WINDSOR’S Liz Ellis reckons you would be mad to support anyone but the GWS Giants netball team in the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball league if you live in western Sydney.
The newly formed netball league is a replacement for the ANZ Championship, which finished last year and featured five Australian and five New Zealand netball teams.
Now there are eight teams, including the Giants, in an Australian only sport, which Channel 9 has thrown its weight behind.
Former Australian netball captain Ellis will be one of the commentators for the league.
She maintains that as a commentator it is her job to be neutral, but said the Giants would be her team if she did not have the job.
“Western Sydney people should be going for the Giants, as a western Sydney girl myself, I'll have a soft spot for them,” she said.
“I think they will actually do quite well this year. They have some good players and a ripping coach. I think it might take them a little while to get out of the blocks but they will come good.”
Ellis said Collingwood were the early season favourites in her mind.
“On paper Collingwood look the strongest team. They are full of internationals,” she said.
“There are couple of other teams that are capable of doing well. Sunshine coast look good, and I don't think you can discount the Firebirds either.”
Ellis said she thought netball had the potential to rival sports like rugby league, Aussie rules and soccer in the future.
“I think netball will become a first tier sport,” she said.
“The sport looks after its athletes. If you are a female athlete and had to choose your sport, you would choose netball. It is an international sport, you are a professional player. If the sport takes itself seriously, the public will as well.”
Ellis said she was thrilled to see female athletes starting to get the chances they deserved, although bemoaned the use of the term ‘women’s sports’.
“My goal in life is to make sure we stop talking about women's sport and talk about it as sport,” she said.
“I think there has been a realisation that there are great female athletes playing sport.
“Netball has plugged away for many years and people have started to realise that the women have got it too.”
Over the past 12 months, sport with female athletes has seen a massive push to the forefront of the media.
Cricket has poured massive time and effort into developing the Women’s Big Bash League in particular, while the AFL has just launched its own women’s competition.
Ellis said she was happy to see so many female athletes getting a chance to prove themselves.
Ellis will join a commentary team on Channel 9 that will feature, among many others, Catherine Cox and Sharelle McMahon, who were both former team mates of Ellis and who to this day she said were some of her best friends.
She said they had commentated together for years, and were all looking forward to the start of the season.
Channel 9 will feature two live games a week, and two other games will be replayed on GEM.