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Rodrigo's success shows value of ACT programs

Date

David Polkinghorne

Netball ACT's new development program has been credited for the sudden influx of Canberra players into Australian squads.

Keely Rodrigo became the first netballer from the nation's capital to break into an Aussie squad last year when she was picked for the 17-unders and 21-unders following her efforts at the 2011 nationals.

This year the 17-year-old has been selected in the 19-unders and her breakthrough seems to have opened the floodgates for ACT netballers.

Two more ACT netballers - Georgia Clayden and Leigh Kalsbeek - have been invited to a 17-under development camp after also impressing at the nationals.

Arawang coach and Canberra Darters assistant Kim Symons said the introduction of a two-tier development program was related to the capital's breakthrough at the national selection table.

The program was introduced about four years ago and would be rejigged again to further enhance the progress of Canberra's best young players.

Currently those placed into the top tier - Netball ACT Academy black - received eight months' training along with strength and conditioning, whereas the second level - NACTA pink - just received the additional training without the strength and conditioning.

''The academy programs that have been put in place, these girls have come through, and I think they've really flourished from that … they can only go up and further from here,'' Symons said. '' … The strength and conditioning programs that have been put in place are starting to show [benefits] as you can see with Keely.''

Rodrigo didn't think she was a role model for Canberra's aspiring netballers, more that she helped show what was possible if you worked hard enough.

''I wouldn't say I'm an inspiration but it's definitely cool to see girls trying hard, following the pathway and I guess I'm an example that I've gone through the whole ACT pathway … and if you work hard you can go to that [national] level,'' Rodrigo said.

The goal defence has come through the Netball ACT program and is now an AIS scholarship holder.

Later this year she has an Australian 19-under training camp where she will be trying to impress selectors and make the team.

Rodrigo is also pushing to make the 21-unders, who will go to Scotland for the 2013 World Youth Cup.

''Going to Glasgow would be amazing, pretty cool, not better because [playing in the] 19s would still be amazing but Glasgow would be cooler,'' she said.

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