Our netball team’s biggest supporters

lauraandmumAustralia’s netballers know they have the support of millions of fans when they take to the court in tonight’s opening pool match of their Commonwealth Games campaign.

But it’s the support our athletes receive from those closest to them – their families – that is providing the team with the motivation they need to end Australia’s 12-year gold medal drought in Glasgow.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, husbands and partners will make up a tight, vocal contingent of supporters cheering on the Australian netball side over the next 10 days – whether that’s courtside in Glasgow or from thousands of kilometres away.

Some have already made their way across to Glasgow for tonight’s opening match against Wales while others are busily packing and preparing to make the long journey across ready for the later stages of the campaign and the medal play-offs.

Captain Laura Geitz’s husband Mark Gilbride and her mother Juanita both admit it will be an emotional experience watching her lead Australia for the first time at one of netball’s two major competitions.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what she’s already done in her netball career,” Mark says.

“If you go back 12 months ago and what Laura and her family have been through and what she’s achieved since, it’s all going to culminate in Glasgow. She doesn’t want to walk away with silver.

“I know that Laura loves having us there. It’s an honor to lead the team and, irrespective of what happens, she has done extremely well to get to this stage.”

Mark and Chris Browne, the parents of Games debutant Madi Robinson, are among the early arrivals in Glasgow and said it will be a special moment watching her represent her country at a major event.

We would be proud of Madison no matter what she achieved,” Chris said. “But to be able to travel half way around the world and be a part of this amazing experience is unbelievable.

“When we are sitting in the stands and she comes out with the Australian team to play will be a parent’s dream come true for their child to reach their potential and experience the ultimate in their sport.”

caldwells.jpgGeoff and Kendra Caldwell, parents of Tegan, have also made the long journey from Victoria’s Great Ocean Road region to watch their daughter – potentially – make her international debut.

“The journey has been long, with a lot of road trips from Anglesea, and Tegan’s dedication to hard work has paid off,” Kendra said.

“We are very proud of how she applied herself to get where she is today. Her sister Breeanna and brother Ashley weren’t able to make the trip but will be barracking at home with all the family.

“The expectations are very high that there will be gold at the end but we hope the girls play their best.”

Trent Copeland, husband of Kimberlee Green, will travel to Glasgow with her mother Denyse – a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist – and said he’s hoping to watch her and team go one better than four years ago in Delhi.

“Kim is such a professional with her preparation, as are all the girls, so I’m sure they’re ready to go,” Trent said.

“It’s very special for Kim to be able to compete in a Commonwealth Games in the same country her mum competed and won gold medals in several years ago. I’m very proud of both of them.”

laytonsKarin Layton, the mum of defender Sharni, is among those arriving in Glasgow next week and is excited to be in the crowd to potentially watch her daughter win a gold medal.

Having watched Sharni be part of a world championship-winning squad in 2011, Karin said the family is proud of what she’s achieved in her career.

“It’s every young girl’s dream to make an Australian team and for her to be part of a Commonwealth Games team is just amazing,” Karin said.

“She’s worked extremely hard for it and we’re extremely proud of her.”

Karin is also looking forward to catching up with the parents and families of other team members that she’s known for almost a decade.

“There’s quite a few of the parents that have gone through the (underage) nationals together so we know each other extremely well,” Karin said. “So I’m looking forward to catching up with the other parents over there.”

Follow the Australian Netball Team during its Commonwealth Games campaign online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aussiediamonds or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aussiediamonds