Stacey West’s netball passion

Stacey West is Netball Australia's new chief executive. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Stacey West has stepped up to take on the biggest role in Netball Australia appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive. She chats with Tara Murray about the role, the future and the enjoyment she gets from stepping onto court as a coach with the Sunbury Lions.

Stacey West might have the toughest job in Australian netball, but come Saturday afternoons her focus is the Sunbury Lions.

West was recently announced the next chief executive of Netball Australia, having filled the role in an acting capacity.

It’s a role that comes with its challenges, with netball making the headlines for the wrong reasons multiple times in the past 12 months.

While she spends her weeks looking at the big picture of netball, she’s also invested in her local netball community.

West got involved with the Sunbury Lions in 2022 to help support the club at which her daughter was playing.

She never looked back.

“I love coaching my daughter, she said. “I love being part of a club. I love being part of a community of football netball league. I love being part of the Netball Victoria community.

“I get a lot out of being really connected every weekend and giving back to something that I love, but also it gives me a lot.

“I turn up at the court and I love it… I’m filled with so much joy and being able to be connected to people that also get joy out of netball, it’s my real happy place.“

West said becoming the chief executive of Netball Australia was never on her radar.

She joined Netball Australia 13 years ago and has been performance executive general manager for the past four years.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” she said. “I think someone asked me if it was ever on your list when you were a little child when you wrote what you wanted to do when I grew up. No, the CEO of one of the most incredible female sports in this country was not was not where I wanted to be.

“This is the result of many years of being connected with the sport and having played multiple roles from player to coach to administrator and still being very deeply connected to the sport on a range of levels has enabled me to be really well positioned for this opportunity as a CEO.

“I’m genuinely thrilled”

West said her initial response to taking on the interim chief executive role was to do it as that was what the sport needed.

Slowly, as she started to feel the breadth of the role, West started to enjoy it.

West’s keenness for the job was noticed by those close to her.

“I also saw the sport take some steps into change across that period so it gave me some confidence that the sport was ready and I was in a good position to lead how we do the next version of ourselves,” she said.

“I remember sitting at home with my husband one night and he looked at me and he said to me, ‘you’re going to go for this role aren’t you?’ Even he noticed a change.”

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for netball in Australia the past 12 months.

Suncorp Super Netball contract standoffs and negative public reaction from players and fans, to Collingwood pulling out of SSN have caused mistrust to grow.

Just a day after her official appointment, a score drama meant a match that had been called a win, was actually a draw and extra time was needed.

West said the incident again demonstrates that people want the sport to be better.

“The sport is in a process of delivery, but it also has to keep discovering what it needs to do better and that’s what is so exciting,” she said.

“We keep evolving and we make a commitment to keep doing that.

“We don’t want any fault or any error, we don’t want anyone to be impacted.

“So we do work very hard to ensure that all of you know that all of our processes and people are well supported but sometimes, you know things occur and it allows us to make some change, which is good.”

West knows that many people don’t trust Netball Australia after what occurred. She said they have a really clear and aligned vision on where they want the sport to go.

“We want to grow participation,” she said. “We want to enhance the experience of all of our grassroots players and coaches and umpires.

“We want to be more inclusive. We’ve just got to ensure that people can play the game, can access the game and can love the game.

“From grassroots right through to high performance.”

From an SSN point of view, West said they want to see some real growth in the competition.

She said all the data is showing more people are watching netball than ever. West said focusing on the eight current clubs and making sure they’re sustainable is a priority.

“We want to continue to explore both what is happening now, but what might be a good idea moving forward is what we do next,” she said.

“We have eight existing teams. We want them to be achieving to their maximum potential and then we continue to explore what might be moving forward.“

West said she’s grateful to be involved at both ends of the netball landscape.

She said being part of the local netball community helps fill her bucket and allows her to be just a normal netball coach.

She said being involved in the community allows her to see what others are experiencing.

“I’m a volunteer coach that gives up her time for the betterment of the club and the sport,” she said.

“My hopes are that they [others on court] don’t know that I am [CEO] but for those that do, again my hope is that I’m no different.

“When I turn up in my Sunbury Lions hoodie, I’m not the CEO of Netball Australia at the moment.”