Geappen giving back to next generation

Fiona GeappenWhen her oldest daughter Abbey wanted to start playing netball, Fiona Geappen looked around Hobart for the closest ANZ NetSetGO centre before deciding it would be easier to start one up of her own.

So she organised the program – developed to introduce netball to children aged from 5 – 10 – through her club Cripps Waratah and in three years has watched the number of participants grow from 80 to more than 100, with a waiting list.

“I’ve been floored by how popular it is,” Geappen said.

“I knew of a couple of clubs that ran the program and I thought `why aren’t I running it?’ because I had a heap of friends with young daughters and I thought there’s no reason why Cripps couldn’t run an ANZ NetSetGO program as well.”

The mother of three, seven-year-old twins Abbey and Max and five-year-old Tom, gets a lot of help from the Cripps Waratahs parents and players when she coordinates the eight-week program every September.

“The first year we had 80 girls registered and heaps on a waiting list because I wanted to see how it would go,” Geappen said.

“Last year we had 100 and this year we’ve got 110 participants and a lot more on the waiting list. It’s grown by word of mouth.”

To celebrate National Volunteers Week – which runs until Friday – Netball Australia is honoring the efforts of those around the country who contribute hours of their personal time to ensure Australians can participate in netball.

189Geappen said ANZ NetSetGO is helping to get young girls into the sport at an early age and then she encourages them to find a local netball club to join once they complete their NetSetGO experience.

Geappen was an accomplished netballer herself, representing Tasmania and being picked in the Australian 21/U squad, spending time at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

She spent time with three clubs in the former Australian national league and was part of a Melbourne Phoenix premiership side in 2002 under current Australian coach Lisa Alexander.

Her teammates in that side included Sharelle McMahon, Eloise Southby, Susan Meaney, fellow Tasmanian Natasha Chokljat and current Melbourne Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield.

She returned to Hobart, played and coached in the State League and also in a local competition between 2003 and last year. While she’s enjoyed her involvement at the elite level, watching young kids get involved in the sport through NetSetGO is just as satisfying.

“I just love it. They’re fresh little minds that are champing at the bit to get out and have a go and they all want to learn,” Geappen said.

262“NetSetGO is all about having fun and getting kids involved and enjoying physical activity and they love playing games.

“It’s like coaching when you’re trying to implement something into your game plan. When you teach the kids a skill and you see them do it for the first time and the smiles on their faces, it’s rewarding. It’s important for their self-esteem as well.

“I had a brilliant opportunity and I was lucky to have great coaches and I learnt a lot of stuff from all of them. I wrote down notes from every training session that I went to and it’s nice to be able to pass them onto kids these days.”

Visit www.netsetgo.asn.au to learn more about what this fantastic introductory program involves or find your closet NetSetGO centre.

Next year Sydney will host the Netball World Cup, the first time it’s been played in Australia in more than 20 years. If you are interested in volunteering for a role, visit www.wnc2015.com.au to register your details.