lvn050220netball: Netball Horowhenua administration officer Meka Hemi-Bateman.

There are some new faces upstairs at Netball Horowhenua this season, and don't be fooled by the Australian accent.

The local netball association has appointed an administration manager, Meka Hemi-Bateman, who has spent most of her life living and playing netball in Australia.

But 28-year-old Hemi-Bateman is Horowhenua born and bred. She and her family left Levin when she was three. Early last year she and her husband returned to Levin to be with family.

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Her love of all things netball had her approach the local association to see if she could help out and get involved with umpiring, but Hemi-Bateman has ended up rolling her sleeves up much further and had taken on a role as administration officer.

Netball has always been a popular sport in Horowhenua with almost 1000 players enrolled at all age levels, and takes in players and clubs from Foxton, Shannon, Levin and Rahui regions.

Hemi-Bateman said the committee was keen to be part of a movement to see that participation grow even more, especially with Netball Horowhenua to celebrate its 100th anniversary next season.

"There is so much history here," she said.

One thing Hemi-Bateman and the committee were keen to foster and encourage was the involvement of different clubs in the association so that everyone involved was connected as Netball Horowhenua.

She said like most sports netball had always thrived on the involvement of volunteers - some who had been volunteering for decades - and the present environment was no different.

There is a working bee planned at the netball courts at Donnelly Park before the new season, on Saturday, February 29. There is an open invitation for anyone to be involved.

Netball Horowhenua had welcomed some new faces onto the committee and elected a new president, Billy Paki, at the annual meeting in November last year, and hoped to continue the good done by the previous group.

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The vice-president elect is Natalie Martin, with a committee of Candace Vazey and Rebekah Hori Te Pa and treasurer Raymond Kaiki.

There is room for more on the committee and any suitable candidates just had to put their hand up, she said.

The committee had scheduled their meetings for the last Friday of every month this season.

Meanwhile, there was an early start to the season with the annual Umpires Tournament at Donnelly Park on Sunday with a host of teams expected to contest both the women's and men's grade.

The season itself was just around the corner, with grading day on Saturday, March 7.

Food stalls are encouraged to be part of the event. For more information and to register your team or stall head to www.sporty.co.nz/netballhorowhenua