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2018 Beko Netball League starts this Sunday

It will be more than just another game of Netball when Northern Comets coach Vicki Morgan guides her charges through their opening Beko Netball League clash.

The Comets launch their 2018 campaign with a local derby against the Northern Marvels at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on Sunday.

It will be a poignant moment for Morgan who is back as head coach for a second season.

“Netball has been a journey for me over the last 12 months – it’s more than just a game,” she said.

Just weeks before the Comets debut into the Beko Netball League last year, Morgan lost her 21-year-old son Kyle in a car accident.

What was always going to be a challenging year for the brand new club became almost an insurmountable task for the coach to face.

“It was incredibly hard,” Morgan said. “I just had to flip a switch and go into performance mode. I could focus on something else…but it was hard.”

The Comets finished the season at the bottom of the ladder but most disappointingly for Morgan was not the performance on court but their inability to build unity off it.

SEE: DRAW, RESULTS AND MORE

“We were a brand new club and it felt a bit of a rush and we were always catching up,” she said. “There were some massive learnings last year which we’ve all taken on board.”

One could have forgiven Morgan for hanging up her coaching clipboard after the final whistles of the season but she remembered how her son, Kyle, felt when she first took on the job.

“He was so proud that I had got the Beko role, so proud,” she said. “I was ready to walk away after last season but I knew how Kyle had felt and I knew I’d tested the waters and I wanted to go back.”

Now she just wants to thank the netballing community for their “overwhelming support” following the death of her son.

Without it, she said, her first year in the Beko League would have been her last.

“I was just so overwhelmed with the support from around the country – from the Deep South to the Waikato to Wellington. It blew me away.

“It just reinforced to me that Netball is more than just a game. It’s about the people and we’ve already shared so much this year as a team – it’s heart-warming.

“I never really got an opportunity to thank those in the game, from Netball New Zealand to coaches, managers, players and supporters. I didn’t feel I had the strength then but I wanted them to know how much their support meant.” Family is key for the Comets this year, she said.

“It’s very much part of our team culture. We asked family members to come in and present team kit to the players, which was really special.”

It will feel like a family affair when they meet netballing neighbours the Marvels in their season opener but Morgan said they would be ready for a tough game when the first whistles blew.

“We’re very much looking forward to this season and there is such a good feel in the team,” she said. “We have a squad of 16 but can only name 10 for game day. We want them to feel a sense of pride that they’ve been given this opportunity to play and that the encouragement from the squad is there to do well.”

In other matches, the defending champion Central side host Heller’s Mainland in Porirua while Waikato-BOP takes on South at Te Aroha in the Waikato.