A NEW era of netball on the South Coast is upon us with the recent formation of the Shoalhaven-Kiama Metro League team.
This franchise, which will see the Shoalhaven and Kiama Netball Associations team up, to compete in Netball NSW's Dooleys Metro League - while also acting as the feeder club for the South Coast Blaze.
Leading the club's inaugural charge will be head coach Sean Gray (Shoalhaven) and assistant coach Adam Giles (Kiama).
"Shoalhaven and Kiama are trying to establish a pathway for our athletes here on the South Coast," Gray said.
"The inaugural Metro League team for Shoalhaven-Kiama is the beginning of our pathway towards higher netball for our athletes.
"We've always known athletes (such as former Super Netball player Kaitlyn Bryce) from the South Coast can match it with the higher-ranked Sydney teams.
"We have had many players go through to play netball in Premier League and some have even progressed further.
"The South Coast Blaze has been a great step for the region to put our athletes on the radar."
Gray is the perfect coach to lead the club's assault, having coach Shoalhaven sides for the past three seasons.
During that time, he's been the under 14s assistant coach (2018), under 15s assistant coach (2019) of the undefeated division three state champions and under 17s head coach (2020) - as well as coaching Lyrebird's division one women's side.
"I have grown up playing netball on the South Coast and have coached many teams in our local and representative competitions," the Nowra High School alumnus said.
"I believe the South Coast has exceptional athletes and I am so grateful to be a part of this new franchise that will help develop our local athletes and show off our talent against the teams in Sydney.
"I am incredibly passionate about netball, especially the development of the South Coast area.
"As a current state athlete for the men's Netball NSW program, I am hoping to bring a wealth of experience and creativity to the coaching role."
After seeing the Blaze's success in year one, including the under 23s side reaching the grand final, Gray and Giles are both confident their side can make some noise in 2021.
"For our first season, we are looking to build strong connections with our South Coast players and get them exposure to some of the best netball in the state," 27-year-old Gray said.
"I am hoping to put a stamp on the Metro League competition, I want to show that athletes from the South Coast can compete with the states best players in this Sydney competition."
If you'd like to get involved in Gray's open's Metro League team, they are holding trials from 10-12pm on Sunday, November 29 at the Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre - with applications closing at 5pm on Saturday, November 28.
"This is a very exciting opportunity for the South Coast," he said.
"This is a chance for us to make history for our associations and build a pathway for our future generations of netball players.
"I would encourage everybody to get involved and put their name down for trials."
To register, please visit here.