Volunteers ensure Millicent netball is healthy

indexIn country towns right across Australia, sporting clubs are the lifeblood of the community.

Volunteers give countless hours of their time to ensure those clubs run smoothly and give people of all ages the opportunity to go out and play sport every week.

The South Australian town of Millicent has a population of just over 5000, but the Millicent Football Netball Club has a healthy netball program.

The club fields four senior teams and five junior sides in the Western Border Netball Association. That includes two 11/U teams and the majority of those players have progressed through their ANZ NetSetGO program, which was introduced around eight years ago by Tracie Duldig.

SONY DSCAfter the first year primary school teacher Donna Denton took over running the program and, along with people like Paula Tunkin and Hayley Dunn and Audine Bryant, a former Australian player, have ensured young kids in the community get their first introduction to netball through the ANZ NetSetGO program.

Denton also runs a school netball program on Monday nights in Millicent.

“Netball has been good to me. I’ve made so many friends and had lots of success along the way but it’s all about friendships,” Denton said.

“I love seeing kids out playing with their friends and having fun learning new skills.”

Denton was born and raised in Millicent and also had a stint playing at State League level in Adelaide before returning home. She’s had a decorated playing and coaching career

Her three daughters Lucy, 11, Abby, 9, and Emily, 6, have all come through the ANZ NetSetGO Program – as has a lot of the girls she now coaches In Millicent’s 13/U side.

“It’s a whole club involvement,” Denton said. “Lots of mums have got girls in NetSetGO so they come and support (the program) and our 15/U and 13/U girls come and take small groups for coaching.

“In country towns, football and netball clubs is all about relationships. We have netballers who coach, umpire and play. There’s mums trying to also watch their sons play football so it can be a long day for our volunteers but they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

P1030560Millicent is where two members of the current Australian Diamonds squad – Natalie Medhurst, pictured left with club members, and Khao Watts – began their netball journeys.

Denton is fortunate to know them both and actually played in Millicent’s A-Grade premiership side with a then 18-year-old Watts in 2006.

This week is National Volunteer Week, which runs through until May 17, and research shows that across Australia, more than six million people volunteer their time each year.

Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer has paid tribute to the thousands of people that give up their time to ensure the sport is played everywhere across the country.

“Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who give their time and energy to our game. The sport is richer for their involvement,” Palmer said.

“National Volunteer Week brings this into focus but we should thank and acknowledge them every day of the year.”