Friday hopes her journey inspires Indigenous girls

beryl1At some stage next month, Beryl Friday will have an opportunity to sit back and reflect on how far her career has progressed this year.

The 20-year-old shooter has enjoyed a whirlwind few months, commencing with her inclusion in Netball Australia’s inaugural Centre of Excellence intake.

Friday was then offered a contract with her home state Queensland Firebirds in the ANZ Championship next season and is part of the Australian 21/U team about to embark on a week-long tour of New Zealand.

Following that, she will jet off to South Africa on a two-week tour with the Centre of Excellence before finally returning home to enjoy some well-deserved down time.

Friday, who will turn 21 in January, is also keen to have her story inspire young Aboriginal girls right across Australia to follow her into the sport.

beryl3Having grown up in Ingham, in far north Queensland, before moving to Brisbane at the age of 15 to finish secondary school, Friday is proud to represent her culture on the national stage and said her achievements have shown that no dream is out of reach.

“There are not many Indigenous girls playing at this level so I am really happy that I can represent all of us,” Friday said.

“(My advice is) just have a crack and have a go. If I can do it than anyone can do it. If they really want to work hard and get somewhere then theres nothing to stop them.”

Its not just her parents Ian and Diana and four siblings who are rightfully proud of Fridays journey to her selection in the Australian 21/U squad.

“When I told mum on the phone (of my selection) she was speechless and just bawling her eyes out. All my family were so happy for me,” Friday said.

“It was put in the local paper and mum would be walking down the street and everyone would be going up to her and congratulating her. She was proud and its great that I not only have my whole family but the community behind me.”

Friday was stunned when her name was announced by Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst at the end of selection camp, having set that as her goal for 2015.

“(But) Im really excited to be part of the team,” Friday said. “Its the first time Ive ever made a (national) 21 squad so I was just happy to go along to the camp for the experience.

“I was just hoping to make the Queensland 21/U team and get on court at the nationals (in Adelaide in March).”

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke is eager to help develop Fridays talents at the next level and said she earned her place through solid performances in the Australian Netball League for the Queensland Fusion and in the Queensland state league.

“I felt that she really had a lot of authority in her performances and she has a different dynamic to our other shooters in that shes a moving shooter and that did worry the opposition,” Jencke said.

beryl4“I was excited to see that and be able to add it to Firebirds style of play. One thing you want in your team is depth and Beryl has certainly got the ability – like Gretel (Tippett) – to step up.

“Beryl has got the ability to play goal attack and shes a fast learner. Bringing her into program can only fast track her game. (Her selection) is recognition of Netball Queenslands pathway and the work all the club coaches and state coaches and programs have done with these players the last couple of years.”

Like her 11 other teammates in the 21/U team, Friday is excited to be able to test themselves against the top Australian and New Zealand defenders in trial matches next week ahead of the Diamonds-Silver Ferns Test at Invercargill.

“The Centre of Excellence played against them (Diamonds) last week and they gave us a bit of shake up so really happy to go over and see what we can do against them,” Friday said.

“Were not expecting to win but the experience will be great. No other team in the world gets to play the two best teams in the world in trial games so were excited. Were going to put everything into practice what weve been learning the last few weeks and have two good hit outs.”