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Sophie Hinkley to lead Bombers’ netballers

COBDEN open netball coach Sophie Hinkley is hoping 2021 is more fruitful on the coaching front.

The dynamic mid-courter has been re-appointed as coach of the Bombers after COVID-19 wiped out her first season at the helm. 

She was set to return to Cobden from a season with Newtown and Chilwell in the Geelong Football Netball League as coach following Mel Starr’s resignation earlier this year.

However, she failed to coach a game as the Hampden league’s senior season never went ahead.

Hinkley said her appointment for 2021 was under a different set of circumstances to her initial appointment and with new challenges to overcome.

“Last year I was coming in in January when we had momentum straight off a great season and everyone was really keen to get stuck into it and have a crack at winning a premiership,” she said.

“All of that hard work is gone and now the difference is I’ll be trying to get the girls to re-commit and rebuild for the season and helping everyone to get their heads back around the season too.

“It’s really hard to know because this year has been so different, so I’ll try to gauge everyone’s feelings and see how I can help everyone to get up and about for next year.”

The Bombers were set to enter the cancelled season seeking redemption once again after they suffered a second successive grand final defeat against Koroit in 2019.

Hinkley said Cobden appeared set to contend once again but may have been impacted if the season panned out as normal.

The Bombers defensive end would have been impacted heavily, with Nadine McNamara sustaining an Achilles injury which would have ruled her out for the season and Jess Wheadon likely to have missed games due to pregnancy.

The coach herself may have also been missing for longer than planned as she recovered from pregnancy.

Hinkley conceded the cancellation of the season may have worked in the Bombers’ favour given the turn of events.

However, she said it was disappointing to lose the momentum the Bombers had built off the back of their 2019 campaign.

Nonetheless, Hinkley is excited about being able to start from scratch, with the mid-courter keen to impart her skills and knowledge where she can.

“With this week being grand final week and with finals weather about it has really got me inspired and excited (about playing) and has got me back thinking about what we can do to and how we can win a premiership,” she said.

“Or if we have to start from scratch and look at rebuilding or look at playing some of our juniors, having a clean slate is really exciting for me.”

Hinkley said she was unsure what the remaining few months of this year would look like for her side but admitted she expected the Bombers to make a normal start to pre-season in 2021.

She added she was also hopeful of getting the group together later this year, when restrictions allow, for a couple of social outings.

“It will probably be more an informal catch-up and will be about seeing each other and touching base,” Hinkley said.

“Then we’ll look at ramping it up and getting into it full swing in late January, early February like normal.”

Bombers president Darren Mounsey said the club was pleased to reappoint Hinkley for 2021.

He said it was a “no-brainer” for the club to lock in the mid-courter once again after her debut season as coach was wiped out by COVID-19.

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