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Avatar photoIan Harkin
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    The Age
    August 27, 2002

    The Adelaide Ravens were yesterday axed from the National Netball League competition to make way for an Australian Institute of Sport team. Netball Australia chief executive Pam Smith said the board had come to a decision at the weekend. “It’s a very difficult decision and we certainly have a great deal of sympathy for the people who will no longer be there,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be the best decision for netball, both in South Australia and in Netball Australia generally.”

    Smith said there may be an opportunity to bring the Ravens back into the competition “down the track”, but also said it was unlikely with their current limited financial resources. “From our point of view, it’s a final decision,” Smith said. “(But) if either Mr Murdoch or Mr Packer (contributed), with the Commonwealth Bank . . . we’d have a lot more money in the competition and then I’m sure we’d have the opportunity.”

    Ravens vice-captain Trudy Gardner was upset about yesterday’s announcement and said Netball Australia’s decision was made in haste. “They were after a quick-fix solution and they wanted the AIS in quick,” Gardner said. “I don’t think they thought hard about it. South Australia loses out, the players lose out and fans lose out. I’m sure all of my teammates are devastated. Most of the girls have got their ground roots in South Australia. It’s quite disappointing.”

    The Ravens’ midcourter said she wanted to play on in the league but her options were now limited. “It’s a real reality check,” she said. “I feel I’ve got a little more to offer in netball.” Gardner said the competition would become more lopsided with the omission of the Ravens, as it would give the Thunderbirds a greater talent base. The Thunderbirds have played in every grand final since the league’s inception in 1997 – claiming the trophy twice. “They are going to have a massive group of players to pick from,” Gardner said.

    Smith said the five state-based member organisations of Netball Australia had made submissions for the retention of their teams, and the Ravens were chosen for elimination for a number of reasons. “(Those reasons included) they came from a membership organisation that has the fifth-largest membership base. We looked at things like crowd support, we looked at things like on-court performances,” Smith said. “In the evaluation of all the submissions that came in, it was felt in the best interest of the competition . . . that South Australia will have a team in the competition, (but) . . . taking everything into account, not two teams.”

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