The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel are excited about the chance to play in front of home fans during the next two rounds of the ANZ Premiership.
After seven weeks on the road due to the centralised COVID-19 season restart, the Steel are set to host back-to-back matches in Invercargill this Friday and Saturday before heading to Dunedin for their final match of round robin on Sunday 16 August.
Friday sees the Steel take on Northern Mystics at 7pm before battling top-of-the table Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse on Saturday at 5pm, with both matches at ILT Stadium Southland.
Co-captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit said it was exciting to bring live netball back to the faithful Steel fans.
“We knew going into the season that it was going to be tough playing away games for the first seven weeks, so we’ve been ticking off every round and are excited to get home, it’s finally here and we can’t wait,” she said.
“It’s amazing playing in front of our Steel fans, it feels so comfortable and gives us a huge boost. We know that the fans will lift us and help us get over the line. When you are feeling down or the other team has scored a couple of goals, our fans just lift us and help push us through.”
“The best thing about ILT Stadium Southland is that the crowd and our fans feel right above us, and to have every single seat filled would just be amazing. That feeling of everyone behind us and cheering us on will be huge for the team.”
Netball South CEO Lana Winders said there was a deep sense of pride in the way the Steel have conducted themselves throughout a tough season.
“I’m really proud of the team and the way they have continued to front up, despite the challenges they faced this season. It hasn’t quite gone to plan but it’s a credit to Reinga and the players that they have competed as strongly as they have. There’s a real sense of southern tenacity and belief coming through, they will never give up,” Winders said.
“This is more than a netball game, this is the first major event for Southland post COVID 19 and I think when those girls first walk into that stadium, it will be emotional for them and our fans.”
Preparation is in full swing as Southern Steel gear up for a bumper crowd, Winders said ticket sales are strong for both Friday and Saturday games, with additional seating being brought out to meet the demand.
Seating in the SIT Stand has been added, and is being hosted by players Jennifer O’Connell, Georgia Heffernan, and training partner Della-May Vining. Every seat sold on both nights in the stand will earn $1 for the Southland Charity Hospital. On Saturday they will also be collecting donations for this very special cause.
“We are on target for record breaking sales for both Friday and Saturday games. Saturday’s game against the Pulse has already eclipsed our best Super Sunday since the ANZ Premiership started.”
Tickets for the Ascot Park Southern Steel’s three remaining home matches are on sale now through Ticketek.
The Deep South is also set to host the ANZ Premiership Finals Series on Sunday 23 August with all six teams in action at ILT Stadium Southland.