Awards recognise community inclusion champions

APPROVED 5The five inaugural winners of the Australia Post One Netball Community Awards represent a diverse cross-section of communities in regional and suburban areas.

We caught up with the winners and asked how they felt about receiving accolades for their commitment to going `above and beyond’ to make the sport of netball accessible to everyone.

LEANNE EADES (WA)

celebrating 25 yearsThis year the All Stars Netball Club in Katanning, located about 270km south-east of Perth, WA, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and Eades has been involved from the start. The club supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, their families and the community to get involved with netball.

Such has been Eades’ contribution to the club as a player, coach and now president, the All-Stars’ Division One best and fairest award is named after her – the Leanne Eades Trophy – and this year she was also honored to receive life membership of the Katanning Netball Association for her contribution.

“As an Aboriginal women of Noongar country I feel very honoured to be recognised nationally for the dedication I put towards our young Noongar girls,” Eades said. “I am proud to represent my family, my culture and my community. This award could not have been possible without the fantastic support of Netball WA, Wirrpanda Foundation, All Stars Netball Club and Lita Collard.”

Eades loves seeing families get involved with the sport she is so passionate about.

“It’s the opportunity to inspire and see the development of players as well as provide pathways for those who have potential,” Eades said.

“Fostering a positive environment and cultural awareness is the most satisfying part of my involvement.

“Having respect for one another gives players a true sense of belonging, regardless of their background.”

ECHUCA & DISTRICT NETBALL ASSOCIATION (VIC)

RockettesThe EDNA has supported the creation of the Rockettes netball team, where players with an intellectual disability compete in their junior competition, supported by players, coaches, umpires and families within the Association.

“The motivation which provides the opportunity for girls with disabilities to get involved in netball is friendship and acceptance,” Association secretary Carmel Beck said.

“The association enjoys watching them continually improve and enjoy the game. Our satisfaction is the friendly rivalry, the encouragement from umpires and coaches, and the understanding from the opposition players.

“The Rockettes are our greatest success story. They have represented EDNA during a Vixens game, at all inclusion games and recently in the All Abilities Association games held in Mooroopna as well as at the State Titles in Melbourne.”

MANLY WARRINGAH NETBALL ASSOCIATION (NSW)

AllAbilities_MWNA2In 2009 the Association started an All Ability program with a small group comprising mainly high school aged girls with a physical disability.

Since then the program has grown to include girls with a physical or intellectual disability and now includes a junior program for girls as young as eight.

Registered players from within the local netball Association volunteer each week to play against the girls in the junior program, creating friendships amongst players and their families in a supportive inclusive environment.

“The association was approached by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to run some form of netball activity and decided that the best experience for all our girls would be to run an all abilities netball group on Saturday during our winter comp when our other players are playing their matches,” Association president Jane Hauser said.

“We positioned the game to be at the same time as the peers of the kids in the all ability group and encouraged our club players to be netball buddies with the girls on court.

“The program has been led by Kim Buckingham, who has a long history playing netball, has daughters playing and is passionate that all ability kids have the opportunity to enjoy playing netball too.”

In 2010 the association opened 10 new hard courts, which was the result of almost two decades of negotiations, and in 2013 completed a major refurbishment of its clubrooms.

GUILDFORD LEAGUES KNIGHTS NETBALL CLUB (NSW)

ADVER 2In 2011 the club’s committee identified an opportunity to encourage the local Muslim community to get involved in netball and approached local Muslim community leaders from Auburn and Guildford mosques, as well as teachers from local Islamic schools.

With modifications to uniforms to allow arms and legs to be covered and their head scarves worn – and with mothers of players assisting to break down barriers to engage more players and their families – participation levels have increased and other Clubs and Associations have followed suit.

“It is important to allow girls from everywhere to lead a healthy life, enjoy the outdoors and meet new friends,” club president Kim Higgins said.

“The western suburbs of Sydney is home to people from many backgrounds and we wanted to include everyone.

“Education and knowledge is the key for all cultures to work together to understand each other’s needs and requirements. It is exciting watching the girls grow and develop in their skills.

“Team sports teach children so much more than the skills required in their chosen sport, it teaches many life lessons, working together, trust and commitment just to name a few.”

Higgins said those who started out as juniors are now putting back into the club by introducing a new crop of youngsters to the sport.

“We have so many girls who have started with us as junior players and have now moved to the senior ranks and are passing on their skills and knowledge as coaches and umpires,” she said.

“This is probably our greatest success; witnessing the growth and development of so many of our girls.”

PARNDANA NETBALL CLUB (SA)

Pardana2The club is part of the Kangaroo Island Netball Association in South Australia and recognised the need to make changes when faced with the issue of not having enough players to field five teams in all grades of the local competition.

In part, this was due to a reduction in numbers of children at Parndana School. To combat this, the club began running junior mixed competitions, encouraging boys to take up playing netball, and also made junior netball free of charge to assist local families experiencing financial difficulties.

These winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Australia Post One Netball Ambassador and Melbourne Vixen defender Geva Mentor, Head of Sport Development at Netball Australia Anne-Marie Phippard, Sports Consultant Paul Oliver and Lauren Jauncey, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Australia Post.

All winners will receive a visit from one of the One Netball Ambassadors, who will present them with their prize packs which includes Australia Post Load&Go gift cards and a signed netball from the 2014 Australian Commonwealth Games Gold Medal winning team.

Click here to learn more about One Netball.