A group of the top up-and-coming netballers across NSW have been promoted from the QBE Swifts Academy to NSW Swifts Training Partners for the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season.
Of the six girls elevated, two are Sutherland Shire netballers, 23-year-old attacker Laura Towell and 22-year-old centre/wing Lili Gorman-Brown.
It is the first time all of the club's Training Partners have been selected from the Academy since it was founded in 2019.
Backed by Netball NSW and the Swifts' principal partner, QBE Insurance, the Academy underpins the senior side and looks to strengthen the foundations of the club by providing further pathway opportunities to aspiring players from across the state.
All of the athletes selected have represented NSW at underage level, while some have even tested themselves against the best by taking the court for the NSW Swifts in pre-season games across 2020 and 2021.
The other four training partners include centre/wings Chelsea Mann and Audrey Little from Manly Warringah, Wagga Wagga attacker Sophie Fawns and defender Dakota Thomas from Newcastle.
NSW Swifts Head Coach Briony Akle said she was delighted to welcome the six girls into the Super Netball environment.
"It is really special to see how these players have progressed from NSW state teams into the academy and now they will be a vital part of our aim to win back-to-back titles for the first time in almost 15 years," she said.
"It was a rigorous selection process and there were some tight calls, but it is good to have those tough decisions to make as it means the program is working.
"Training Partners are vital to how we operate, and recent history shows what can happen if you get a chance.
Ms Akle said that the Swifts' Tayla Fraser was a training partner and an academy athlete not that long ago and that she is now a two-time Premiership winner and a key member of the club's senior squad.
"It's not just her," she said "A few years back we had Sophie Craig (nee Halpin) who was a training partner and worked hard, got a chance and also won a Premiership.
"I know these players have the right aptitude and attitude to be in our environment and their efforts to this point are a testament to them, and those who have assisted them along their respective journeys to this point.
"I can't wait to see the likes of Chelsea, Lili and Audrey learn from Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud, and Sophie and Laura won't get a better netball education than training alongside Sam Wallace and Helen Housby daily. And who better to teach Dakota than the Diamonds pairing of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner."
NSW Swifts Executive General Manager Nikki Horton paid tribute to the Academy staff whose work was vital in getting the athletes prepared for the Premiership-winning setup.
"A lot of work has gone in from the pathways staff at Netball NSW who worked with our dedicated Academy team to provide us with a brilliant list of athletes to select from," she said.
"Academy Head Coach Lenore Blades, alongside Jen Wright and Abbey McCulloch - who is a former Swifts captain - have run a brilliant program.
"It is really special to see our local talent come through and, as Briony says, you never know when they may be called upon in 2022.
"The Swifts are far more than just the 10 selected in the senior squad. The club is a collective, cohesive unit on and off the court, and you can't succeed without having those strong foundations."
The Swifts will begin their Super Netball title defence in March 2022.
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