It is hard to believe that the Netball World Cup has been and gone! It hasn’t just been weeks or months of preparations it has been years. So if you rewind back to that gold medal match last Sunday and the moment that final whistle blew, the excitement, elation and relief is the expression that you will see written across every one of the Aussie Diamonds faces.
Eight games of netball in 10 days was an intense schedule, sore bodies and tired minds are all part and parcel of playing in a World Cup event. However walking out in front of a world record crowd at Allphones Arena of close to 17,000 people somehow managed to make all the soreness miraculously disappear. A sea of green and gold sprinkled with a decent dose of black and silver. It was what the netball world had been waiting for – the moment where the Aussie Diamonds would face off against our trusty old rivals the Silver Ferns to see just who was the best team in the world.
Four years ago we were doing much the same thing in Singapore, a grand final match that went into extra time to decide the winner. I was a fresh-faced Diamond who was happy to take all the excitement in. I spent a majority of the game time on the bench supporting the girls who were out on court, four years down the track I had the privilege of captaining the most inspiring and determined 11 athletes in a home world cup. This was something on my bucket list, perhaps one of the most wanted and exciting boxes that had until this point been left unticked. I mean who wouldn’t want to play in front of thousands of screaming Aussies not to mention all of your family and friends that had also been a part of the journey every step of the way. But with all that excitement of a home world cup also comes a lot of pressure and expectation.
It was exactly seven days before the grand final that we had already had a match-up against the Silver Ferns and to there credit they played all over us! A new game plan on their behalf spoiled us in defence and attack and left us doing some serious analysis on what went wrong. We knew we had to get out to a strong start, we had to make our mark on the game early and after the first fifteen minutes of that gold medal match that was exactly what we did. Heading into quarter time we produced a 10-goal lead, which in the netball world is a pretty handy statistic. Had we won the game already? Not a chance and if for one second that thought crept into our minds we would have handed up that lead just as quickly as we earned it. There was still plenty of netball to play and for any netball enthusiast we know better that an Aussie – Kiwi contest always comes down to the wire.
The Silver Ferns did fight back but the Aussie Diamond troops had enough character and resilience to hold onto that lead for the game. A three goal win over the Silver Ferns meant we became the world champions for three consecutive years. What a moment and what an experience to be a part of. I feel honoured to play alongside some of the most inspirational, strong and determined women. They are the ultimate role models for any of our young women to admire, they are genuine, so talented yet so very humble about the way they go about their business and to hold up that trophy with them was truly a dream come true.