THE Thorpdale Football-Netball Club is one that holds a lot of pride, and that mantra won’t be going anywhere in the future.

With the rise of the senior football side in recent years, the netball program hopes to follow suit.

During the 2023 season, Thorpdale didn’t enter an A Grade netball team into the Mid Gippsland competition, yet they returned this year ready to give things another crack.

Despite results not going their way so far in 2024, the Blues hope to gradually improve and get back to their best.

With a rebuild comes change, and often that change can be unexpected.

Thorpdale’s A Grade side has seen change so far this season, with another one striking the club.

Thorpdale FNC’s netball coordinator, Maree Carpinteri spoke to the Express, highlighting what the club is doing, as well as what they hope to do in the future.

At the beginning of the season, Thorpdale appointed Darcy Cooper as A Grade coach, however she has since stepped down, but will remain at the club as a player.

Carpinteri has announced that A Grade players Maggie Blackman and Roxy Hibberson will take the reins for the remainder of the season, adding to their commitments as coaches of lower grades.

Blackman, who arrived from Cora Lynn in the West Gippsland Football-Netball League this season, will also coach B Grade alongside Hibberson. While Hibberson, a lifelong Thorpdale girl, will add a third team to her resume, after starting the season as the C Grade coach.

“They’ve been taking trainings, girls are turning up week in, week out, rail, hail or shine, and training well,” Carpinteri said.

Despite their current position (winless and last on the ladder), Thorpdale hope to enjoy the rest of the season, and take away as much as they can from their new coaching group, before they get stuck into 2025.

“Basically, just getting out there and having a go. Obviously, we’ve got some strong players, so we are just going to do our best – do what we do best,” Carpinteri said.

“They are a great bunch of girls who like playing together, so as long as they keep getting out there, improving, taking on board what the coaches are telling them – that’s all we can ask for at this stage.

“The girls have been improving each week, we’ve had good Saturdays – we’ve had sunshine every week, so that’s been great, they’re a real happy group.

“One of our main shooters (Jess Monger) has got an injury… she’s got about four weeks to go.”

Looking ahead to 2025, Thorpdale have begun searching for their next coach, who will assume the role for next season.

“We’ve now started scouting, keeping our eyes out to fill our coaching positions earlier than we did this year,” Carpinteri said.

“Moving forward we would like to appoint a strong coach – preferably not a playing-coach.”

In terms of dealing with what they’ve got, Carpinteri believes that alongside a new coach, Thorpdale can upskill the girls they have, as well as hold netball clinics to attract juniors.

“We’re talking about junior development… that’s a really big thing that Mid Gippsland (is) trying to focus on because a lot of teams in our league are struggling with juniors,” she said.

Ahead of the current 2024 season, Thorpdale had a number of junior players, but as squads needed to be finalised, some players left, making it difficult to fill those squads.

The club is applying for grants regularly and is currently waiting on Baw Baw Shire Council to resurface their netball courts.

Carpinteri says that the club’s facilities aren’t the worst, and they are still operatable, but the club would like to bring them into the 21st century.

When asked if there was any chance that Thorpdale won’t have an A Grade side next year, Carpinteri said: “Absolutely not”.