When it comes to high performing sporting teams, there are not many in Australia who rival the NSW Swifts. In 2021, the club secured its second Suncorp Super Netball premiership in three years, having spent the majority of the 2020 and 2021 seasons away from home due to Covid restrictions.

The resilience and determination shown by the club – from the team on the court to those behind the scenes – was a quality UNSW observed in forming a partnership with the Swifts in August 2021. 

In a coming together of one of the State’s most iconic sports teams and one of its most respected education institutions, the partnership focuses on how UNSW can aid the development of pathway athletes in the Swifts program and aims to provide scholarships to athletes in the QBE Swifts Academy.

On Saturday 5 March, UNSW representatives were in attendance as the Swifts launched their 2022 season and announced their bold ambition to secure a back-to-back premiership. The disappointment of the club at not being able to play last year’s grand final in front of a home crowd was palpable and the determination to perform for their fans in 2022 will act as extra motivation for the season.

The season launch included the presentation of the home dresses to the 10 contracted players, the unveiling of the club’s Indigenous dress for 2022, the reveal of the 2021 premiership banner and two netball games. The QBE Swifts Academy played the NSW Men’s Open A team (which featured UNSW Engineering / Science student Nathan Germech), while the NSW Swifts took on the NSW Men’s Open team. These highly entertaining battles were received with great delight by fans who have been starved of live netball since the lockdowns of mid-2021.

Mark Wright, Head of Sport & Local Community, is excited about the opportunities the partnership will present for up-and-coming elite athletes as it heads into its second season.

“This partnership aligns closely with UNSW’s Women in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy – in 2020 UNSW became the first university in Australia to launch a female-focused sporting strategy,” he said.

“There are significant benefits to combining an elite sporting career with tertiary study and we are proud to offer an Elite Athlete Program that provides flexibility and certainty for these athletes.”

Yael Reed, Executive General Manager of Commercial & Marketing at Netball NSW, said the partnership between the Swifts and UNSW was one of shared values.

“I think it is very special to have these two iconic brands … working hand-in-hand to develop future stars of our game,” she said.

“UNSW is widely regarded as one of the finest universities in the world and it has flown the flag for the State both nationally and internationally for decades.

“Netball is the clear No.1 sport for women and young girls across NSW and the Swifts are hugely influential role models for many of them. To have the support of a trusted and highly regarded institution like UNSW is a real boost, not just for the club but for the game as a whole.”

NSW Swifts training partner and UNSW Bachelor of Science student Sophie Fawns featured in the second match of the day – taking the court with the Swifts’ senior squad. 18-year-old Fawns is a goal attack and goal shooter in the style of former Swifts, Giants and Australian star Susan Pettitt and has slotted in extremely well whenever she has taken the court. On Saturday she partnered with the newly contracted Kelly Singleton to form a dynamic and exciting goal circle.

The NSW Swifts will begin their season with a grand final rematch against their crosstown rivals Giants Netball at 7pm on Saturday 26 March at Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney Olympic Park.

The Swifts being presented with their home dresses

Saturday's season launch included the presentation of the 2022 home dresses. Photo: UNSW Sport