Academy Looking to Score at Regional Academy Games

Written on the 9 April 2024 by SWSAS

Academy Looking to Score at Regional Academy Games

In just a few short days time (April 12-14), one of the largest contingents yet of athletes, coaching and support staff from the South West Sydney Academy of Sport will head to Wagga Wagga, to compete in the annual ClubsNSW Your Local Club Regional Academy Games.


One such athlete looking forward to the Games is Bingara Gorge Netballer Gabriella Arena.

Arena, who is in her second year with the Academy program is looking forward to challenging herself and her team mates to step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to learn something new.

“The Academy has provided a wonderful opportunity to play with talented athletes and develop my individual skills” said Arena, who added that, “The Academy also helps prepare me for tournament style play, such as the Academy Games”.

Arena, and her fellow netball squad members undertook an intensive training camp in early March at Netball Central in Olympic Park. Hosted by Netball NSW, athletes from all eleven NSW Regional Academies were mixed into groups to undertake training in on-court movement and skill development, speed and agility training, and self-confidence education.

“They (Netball NSW) mixed us up into specialists positional groups which allowed us to test our skills against athletes from other Academies, and be coached in our own position” said Arena, who commented that whilst the training was intense, it was also made to be a fun challenge.

“The highlight of the camp was definitely day two, when we got to wear the Academy dress and play games”, said an excited Arena. “It feels amazing to play with this team, and I cannot wait to head off to represent South West at the Academy Games”.

The Academy will contest the Netball competition with two teams, whilst three umpires will also travel with the squad to participate in umpiring the Netball competition, however they will not be alone in Wagga Wagga, with the Academy setting up ‘Camp South West’, right in the heart of town, in an effort to closely simulate the athlete villages of the Olympics.


In addition to the Netball squad, the Academy will compete in the Basketball, Golf, Hockey, Triathlon and Volleyball competitions, held over three-days throughout grounds and stadiums in Wagga Wagga.

“We have over 120 athletes and 45 coaches attending this year’s games, competing in six sports” said Academy Sport Operations Manager Stephen Craig, “We are very fortunate that we have all of our athletes accommodated over two hotels within the region, which enables us to set up an athlete village”.

The village atmosphere itself going a long way to show the support amongst athletes, and add to the camaraderie and culture of the South West Sydney region. “We will be taking a piece of the ‘South West’ with us” said Craig, who added that, “this year we have a dedicated camp ‘chief de mission’, who will be looking after the village and making sure that all the transport logistics, and most importantly meals are well and truly looked after.”

No small feat considering the many nutritional requirements needed by the up and coming athletes over the three-days of intense competition, as well as the differing draws and schedules throughout the games. Yet taking that pressure off the coaching staff is one key area that Craig believes may just give the athletes from South West a slight advantage over the other competing Academies.

“We are ‘South West tough’, and knowing that you have not only your own team mates, but an entire region behind you back at basecamp will only help our athletes to achieve their potential when testing their skills against fellow Academy teams” said Craig.   

But if you ask Gabrielle Arena her thoughts on how to make the most of the Games and have her netball squad come out on top?

“It’s about the one percenters, like making sure you do your recovery, eat properly, sleep well, have self-control and be self-disciplined. Those are key qualities you need to have to be an athlete, and get each other through the weekend.” Said Arena, who is looking forward to developing new friendships amongst fellow Academy athletes at South West Sydney’s ‘Games Village’.


For more information on the Regional Academy Games, and to follow the South West Sydney Academy of Sport’s progress, head to




2/298 Queen St,
NSW 2560

Letters to: PO Box 307 Macarthur
Square NSW 2560