That is admittedly a bold and possibly foolhardy thing to say about any Wellington based sporting franchise, but this Central Pulse season does have a fair bit of optimism about it.
Since the inception of the ANZ Championship things have been tough going. At times they were the laughing stock of the competition, and any win could be considered the highlight of the season.
Gradually this has turned around. Since the appointment of Robyn Broughton and Katrina Grant as coach and captain in 2012 there has been clear improvement on the court, and an increasingly optimistic vibe off it.
Adding to this is the announcement of a modified tournament structure for 2015. The new format, which is similar to that currently used in Super Rugby sees the Australian and New Zealand teams split into two conferences. And a guaranteed three teams from these conferences will progress through to a restructured finals series. The reality is that finishing in the top three New Zealand sides is demonstrably easier than finishing in the top four in a combined table.
Some people have criticised this format; how it means that it does not guarantee the six best teams make the play-offs, and that conference systems should be confined to USA competitions, but if any franchise benefits from this it is the Central Pulse.
This is our year. The year when the former cellar dwellers make it onto the big stage.
The history of the franchise is partly why Wellingtonians are embracing the steady improvement. We are used to accepting disappointment with self-deprecating humour and we cherish the good times.
That is why The Pulse is connecting with its fan base. This is not the over-commercialised face of modern sport, we see the players out and about, they have other jobs, and we can identify with them.
Children under 16 make up 22% of season ticket holders, which is a particularly refreshing statistic in an era when professional sport is viewed as increasingly disconnected from those playing at grass roots level.
A quick look through the playing roster highlights the diversity within the squad. Ama Agbeze, the former England international is a qualified lawyer. Elias Shadrock works at the ASB Sports Centre. Whitney Souness is at university, and is seen as a star of the future. Hannah Poff returns to netball after a stint playing 7s rugby. These are real people with diverse back stories. People can relate to that.
In addition to that, there are the big names in netball. Katrina Grant is the captain of the Silver Ferns, and Jolene Henry is the deputy captain. These two are both entering their fourth season for the franchise, and form the back-bone of the side.
The international experience does not end there thoughTe Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit is another from the Class of 2012, and Liana Leota, who played for the Pulse five weeks after giving birth last season, is now a regular in the mid-court.
The new signings strengthen the squad further. Former Queenslander Ameliaranne Wells completes her nationality switch, and Jodi Brown, the 42 test veteran, joins the squad adding even more experience
Then there is the farewell season for Irene Van Dyk. We have forgiven her for those years playing in Hamilton, and this is the last chance to see arguably the world’s best netballer in action.
That is a lot of things coming together at the same time. As the tagline for the 2015 season says: All Charged Up.
Article first published in Fishhead’s February 2015 magazine. Get your March copy now, where the spotlight turns on Wellington Rugby.