Diamonds crowned queens of Australian sport

The Australian Netball Diamonds have sparkled at the 2015 AIS Sport Performance Awards in Sydney, named joint Team of the Year and Destination NSW Team of the Year.

The Diamonds shared the prestigious Team of the Year honours with the Australian Women’s Team Pursuit (cycling) in addition to winning Destination NSW Team of the Year as voted on by the public.

The awards reflect the esteem Australia’s all conquering netball team is held in by both the sporting sector and Australian public.

Acting Diamonds vice-captain Sharni Layton proclaimed 2016 to be “the year of the chicks” with the growing success and recognition of women’s sport around the country.

All pictures courtesy of Narelle Spangher

“We’re thrilled to be able to share this honour (Team of the Year) with the Women’s Team Pursuit,” Layton said.

“Along with the Southern Stars, Matildas, Michelle Payne, Big Bash League and AFL, 2016 is going to be the year of the chicks.”

Having led the Diamonds to a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal and Netball World Cup glory in the past two years, Coach Lisa Alexander was quick to affirm that she’s always striving for improvement individually and collectively.

“We want to be compared equally with everybody else at the end of the day. We want to be known for being the best at what we do,” Alexander declared.

“My message before the girls go out on court is to never forget who you are representing.

“We get that little bit of extra ounce of effort, of perseverance, of guts and determination and it gets us over the line.”

Outgoing Netball Australia President Noeleen Dix was also honoured at the Awards, recognised with a Service to Sport Award, alongside Perry Crosswhite AM and Rob Fildes.

She reflected on the Diamonds success, “I’m really proud that not only our sporting peers have selected our team as the best for 2015, but also from a public perspective.

“We’ve certainly come a long way and I’m proud that this is where we have gotten to.”

Dix, who has served as President of Netball Australia for a decade, will step down in March at the Annual General Meeting.

“It’s all about the team. Netball has made some very brave decisions over the past ten years and it is through all of these changes and following the mantra of being the best we can be, that we have gotten to this point,” Dix said.

Click here and listen to Lisa Alexander and Sharni Layton chat to ABC Grandstand post-awards.