In a landmark moment for netball in Gippsland, the Gippsland League has secured a licence to operate a team in the Victorian Netball League (VNL). The Gippsland Stars will join the competition from 2024 in the newly created 23 & Under division before entering both the Championship and 23 & Under divisions in future seasons.

As Victoria’s premier netball competition, the VNL provides a pathway for talented athletes to develop and showcase their abilities in a competitive pre-elite performance environment. The VNL is a crucial step in the Netball Victoria pathway for athletes, coaches, and officials, and in 2024 will move to a new structure featuring 12 clubs across 2 divisions (previously 10 clubs across 3 divisions).

Gippsland players have a strong existing presence in the competition with over 15 registered 2023 Gippsland League players competing across various teams in the 2023 VNL Championship, Division 1 and 19 & Under competitions. The 2023 VNL Championship final between the City West Falcons and Boroondara Express featured four current/former Gippsland League players competing; including 2022 Gippsland League Team of the Year players Taylah Brown & Zali Anderson, 2018 Moe premiership player Bella Hodgson and 2019 Gippsland League best and fairest Montana Holmes who also claimed the match MVP honours.

The Gippsland Stars will be primarily based out of Traralgon and will encompass opportunities for players from the entire Gippsland region. The initial setup will include a team to compete in the VNL competition and a development team which will support the VNL program. Various other operational logistics will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Gippsland League General Manager Daniel Heathcote led the Stars’ bid to base a team in Gippsland “It is an exciting opportunity which has been a long-term goal for a few of us involved in the Gippsland League. To be in a position to develop a Gippsland team competing in the VNL competition is a major boost for the League and the region and we thank Netball Victoria for their vote of confidence in the Gippsland Stars program” said Heathcote.

The Gippsland Stars will operate out of Traralgon and compete in the VNL competition

 “We think this team will provide a greater opportunity for Gippsland players, umpires, coaches and staff to develop and aspire to follow the Netball Victoria pathways that may not have had the opportunity or been able to continue on due to the logistical commitments of travelling to a Melbourne based club”

The 2024 VNL competition will feature a number key of changes, including the addition of three new licensees – two based in regional Victoria – and structural changes to support the development of athletes, coaches, officials and administrators within the Victorian performance pathway.

“We’re excited to welcome the Gippsland Stars to the Victorian Netball League in 2024,” said Netball Victoria Performance Competitions Manager Stacey O’Neill. “The Stars’ inclusion will mean more opportunities for talented athletes, coaches and officials from across the Gippsland region. We know Gippsland is a passionate netball heartland and we’re looking forward to working with the club to ensure our competition is even stronger and more exciting in 2024 and beyond.”

As a new program, the Stars will begin the process of implementing the off-court roles including coaching and administration. The Stars will aim to implement these off-court roles to hit the ground running before the October 1st date set by Netball Victoria where all teams can begin player recruitment and trials for the 2024 season. All roles will be advertised on and via our social channels @gippslandstars.