By Tricia Mifsud
WHITTLESEA netballer Tara Watson has been selected in the 2022 Melbourne Vixens Academy squad.
The 20-athlete academy aims to develop and extend the abilities of athletes within netball’s high-performance pathways and provide exposure to the Melbourne Vixens program.
Watson is one of two athletes selected from her netball team, North East Blaze, while the remainder of the squad mainly comes from the other side of Melbourne, including seven players from Geelong Cougars.
She said she was excited about the opportunity to train in a professional environment, alongside the state’s best netballers and and in an elite environment.
“I’m so excited to get to training, it’s such a crazy feeling walking into such a professional and hard working environment,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to working with such knowledgeable coaches and developing connections with new people, and training alongside other amazing athletes, who have experience and help to push me to do my best.
“I love watching the others train and play, and it helps push me to want to be just like them. “
Watson said it was an ‘absolute honour’ to be selected for the academy and share the same facilities as some of her favourite netballers.
She said Vixens players to have attended the academy’s training sessions included co-captains Liz Watson and Kate Moloney and head coach Simone McKinnis.
“It’s an absolute honour, I feel so privileged to have been selected. I’ve always supported the Vixens so it’s just an unreal feeling to be training within their environment and I will be forever grateful to have this opportunity especially at a young age,” she said.
“I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I got the news; overall I am just over the moon to have been selected and it means a lot to me.”
The 17-year-old Whittlesea Secondary College student hoped the experience with the academy would develop her into a more professional athlete.
“I am hoping to become more experienced and exposed to a professional environment, which will help me develop as a player and a person and will also help me gain more confidence with my game,” she said.
“I just can’t wait to learn and develop new skills, and work as hard as I can throughout the academy to become a better player on and off the court. I am just so thrilled to have this opportunity and can’t wait to give it everything, and get learning from the best.”
Coach Susan Meaney said the academy would aim to prepare athletes for Victorian Fury team selection with a long-term view of developing future Melbourne Vixens.
“You’ve got a player like the young Tara Watson and you can just see her willingness and eagerness. They’re really pushing hard to be able to maintain that standard, which is really exciting to see that there’s the depth at a young age,” she said.