The life work of Marie Little OAM was celebrated on Sunday when the best netballers with an intellectual disability from Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia came together to play a tournament named in her honour.
The founder of AUSRAPID passed away on Sunday night hours after Victoria’s All Abilities side had defended the Marie Little OAM Shield on its home court by winning a dramatic Final against New South Wales.
AUSRAPID Chief Executive Officer Robyn Smith paid tribute to Little’s passion in dedicating her life to improve the lives of people with a disability through netball.
“Marie was a very passionate netballer as well and she believed her sport could help the lives of people,” Smith said.
“She was truly delighted and honoured when this event was officially named in her honour last year, the Marie Little OAM Shield.”
In a fitting finish to the 2014 tournament, Victoria ensured the Shield remained in Victoria for another 12 months after scoring a one-goal win over New South Wales at the Waverley Netball Centre on Sunday afternoon.
With a healthy crowd cheering on both teams – including players from the respective state’s Australian Netball League teams showing their support – Sharee Marks slotted the winning goal for Victoria with just over a minute left.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Parker said after the match.
“It wasn’t exactly the game I thought we were going to play – I didn’t think it was going to be that close but I’m so glad that we’ve come away with a win.”
Parker thanked the players for their commitment and also the families and friends who came along and watched the action over the day.
“They’ve put in a lot of time (to make the team),” Parker said. “They come from Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Gippsland – we travel far and wide to play netball.
“The Marie Little OAM Shield is an excellent way for the states to get together and play the game that we all love.”
The Marie Little OAM Shield provides an opportunity for netballers with an intellectual disability to compete at a national tournament and it’s the second year that the event has been contested between New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
“The improvement in the standard is outstanding,” she said. “Last year in Sydney there was lots of mistakes and errors but you could see the improvement in the teams this year – and you could even see the improvement as the day went on.
“You could certainly bottle their enthusiasm and sportsmanship.”
Netball Australia’s Community Engagement Manager Julia Symons said the day was a success and is hopeful that more states will take part in the 2015 tournament.
“Many netball Associations across Australia run competitions for players with an intellectual disability and they play a vital role in the fabric of their local netball communities,” Symons said.
“We look forward to welcoming other state and territory teams to the Marie Little OAM Shield in 2015, to make the event truly representative and inclusive of all participants in these competitions nationally.”