Bedpost and Southern Steel - A Great Netball Partnership
Although the start of the netball season is still a few months away, Bedpost’s recommitment to its sponsorship deal with the championship-winner Southern Steel already has loyal supporters (and Bedpost Dunedin owners) Alan and Denise Preston excited.
New Steel memberships have just gone on sale for next year, which will include a star-studded pre-season trans-Tasman clash between the Steel, winners of the 2017 ANZ Premiership, and the Noeline Taurua-coached Lightning, the 2017 Suncorp Super League champions.
The first game will be played at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin on Thursday, March 15, followed by a re-match at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Friday, March 16 and will mark the return to the Deep South for Noeline after she coached the Steel to the ANZ minor premiership in 2016.
Bedpost’s relationship with Steel goes back to 2011 and Denise – who is a regular courtside throughout the season with husband Alan – says it has been wonderful to see both the relationship and the team grow over that time.
“One of the really nice things about the sponsorship is that they value us and we value them,” she says. “We get to know all the women and have now watched many of them from the Beko league through to the Steel, and in some cases, right through to the Silver Ferns.”
Last year’s championship win was an emotional rollercoaster after more than half the Steel squad were involved in a crash when their minivan rolled on to its side and four key players ended up in Christchurch hospital. Seeing captain Wendy Frew supporting the final from the sidelines with her leg strapped in bandages brought home to Denise exactly why the sponsorship was important.
“Those women are real role models and winning after that crash was such a great story,” she says. “What’s nice about this sponsorship is that in the first year I don’t think they won that many games, but we’ve been about to watch them grow through three coaches, all of whom have brought something different to the team, and now they’re really a group of women to look up to.”
One of the big hurdles the Steel will have to get over in 2018 is the loss of key Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, for whom Bedpost custom-built a 2.10m bed to fit her 1.98m frame when she first joined five seasons ago. But, as Denise points out that just gives the shooting prowess of Silver Fern Te Paea Selby-Rickit more of a chance in the scoring circle whilst the older Selby-Rickit sister Te Huinga will be joined in the defensive ranks by another Jamaican import Malysha Kelly.
Malysha even went so far as to say her good friend Jhaniele’s description of life in Southland had been key to her coming, telling the Steel website: “Jhaniele was the first person I spoke with about it. She was telling me what the culture was like and her experience and that’s when I began putting my mind around it. I’m looking forward to building relationships with the girls. I feel like I know a few of them already just based on what Jhaniele has told me over the years. I’m excited to come over and have my own experience.”
And part of that experience will be the close ties to the Bedpost brand (and no doubt hearing Alan and Denise in the stands!)
“Quite a few of the players sleep on our beds and everybody except the new players will start next season with their Tempur pillows so we do try to make sure they feel the value of having us on board,” Denise says. “They’re wearing our brand but it’s not just about the money, it’s about a lot more than that.”