AIS Canberra Darters
|Region||AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY|
|Home venue||AIS Arena
|Head coach||Melinda Rose Clarke|
|League||Commonwealth Bank Trophy (2003-2007)
Australian Netball League (2008-present)
The Canberra Darters are an Australian netball team, playing in the Australian Netball League and played in the now defunct national Commonwealth Bank Trophy. In the Commonwealth Bank Trophy era, they mostly represented the Australian Institute of Sport, giving young players experience at an elite level, but also included some young players from Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. They are based out of the AIS Arena in Bruce, Canberra. The Darters were coached in the last Commonwealth Bank Trophy season by Brenda Scherian (assisted by Maria Lynch) and captained by Clare McMeniman, both of whom were new to their roles in 2006. The team's colours were pink, silver and black.
Until the creation of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy in advance of the 1997 season, the Australian Institute of Sport had been represented by its own team in the ailing, state-level club-based national Mobil League. However, when this was replaced with the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, it soon became clear that there would not be an AIS team in the new league, which led to fears for the future of development programs at the institute. As a result, AIS players had no outlet in the competition between 1997 and 2002, when Netball Australia backed down and agreed to create an AIS team. Instead of expanding the size of the league, the national body eliminated the less successful of the two South Australian teams, the Adelaide Ravens, so as to allow the competition to remain capped at eight teams.
The Darters largely struggled in their first three seasons, due largely to the high turnover of players from year to year and their status as a youth team. Despite this, they managed to record several victories against more experienced clubs, and repeatedly finished above Queensland's only team, the Queensland Firebirds. The Darters remained an important development ground for Australian netball, with many players subsequently moving on to careers with other Commonwealth Bank Trophy teams.
In 2008, when the ANZ Championship season began, Netball Australia created a league called the Australian Netball League for up and coming players not yet ready for ANZ level. The first season would feature ten teams including one from each State, Territory and also including and AIS side (separate to ACT) and extra New South Wales side. The ACT team was decided to be recalled as the Canberra Darters, continuing from the Commonwealth Bank Trophy days.
Commonwealth Bank Trophy
- 2003: 6th
- 2004: 5th
- 2005: 7th
- 2006: 8th
- 2007: 8th
Australian Netball League
- 2013: 11th
- 2014: 9th
- 2015: 7th