The winners of the Australia Post One Netball Community Awards were announced earlier this week with a total of seven individuals, Clubs and Associations rewarded.
The Awards recognise and reward the individuals, Clubs and Associations that go above and beyond to create and support inclusive netball environments.
Netball Australia caught up with the winners to learn more about their contribution to the netball community and why they feel that creating more inclusive netball environments is important.
Karina Franke (individual award, NSW)
Franke’s involvement includes organising volunteers and uniforms, coordinating netball games, and promoting the program with the ultimate aim to get a disability team into a local netball Club.
“I have been approached by so many of my participants and the parents of participants who have indicated that before our program, they have tried to play mainstream and felt excluded,” Franke said.
“For us, the feeling of inclusion is everything.”
Franke was excited about the upcoming visit from an Australia Post One Netball Ambassador, who will present the Award prize pack and conduct a coaching clinic for the Eagles. “The coaching clinic will be so exciting for our girls, a fantastic end to what has been a very successful season with our program growing from just five participants to 14 in the past year.”
St Mary’s Netball Club (Club award, VIC)
The Club promotes an inclusive environment where discrimination is not tolerated, with the Club accommodating for cultural factors including altered uniforms due to cultural beliefs.
“Inclusive netball is important because everyone should be able to play a sport no matter where you are from. It shows our community we can come together and play the sport we love,” Club President Penny Collins said.
“(This award) will help us further engage the multicultural community but also support the boys and girls that wish to go further with netball.”
Christine Perry (individual award, VIC)
School teacher Christine Perry has introduced netball to the Karen community in Bendigo, who originate from Burma. For many of the Karen girls who play in Christine’s teams, the netball courts of Bendigo are a long way from the refugee camps in Thailand where they were born.
Perry’s contribution extends well beyond coaching and includes assistance with transport, raising money for fees and uniforms and assisting in breaking down the language and cultural barriers in a community that had previously never experienced netball.
“The cultural background of Bendigo has changed dramatically over recent years and it is important to engage all people in a sport where Australia are world leaders,” Perry said.
“This Award will allow the girls to have an opportunity to attend a Vixens game in Melbourne and a coaching clinic with a player of the calibre of Geva Mentor is the dream of every netballer.”
Julijana Caldwell (individual award, NSW)
Julijana Caldwell’s support of the Bundjalarms Netball Club has encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and women to become involved in netball, as well as promoting reconciliation, friendship and equality between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
“We have started our campaign for inclusiveness, ‘if you want to play netball with our Club, then you can’,” Caldwell said.
“This Award will give inspiration, hope and pride to the younger members that what may be seen as a simple netball game is so much more to others, that each and every one of these young girls are creating and are a living example of change through reconciliation, partnership and togetherness through sport.”
Ku-ring-gai Netball Association (Association award, NSW)
For 15 years the Ku-ring-gai Netball Association has run the Allstars, providing players with an intellectual disability with the opportunity participate in a weekly netball program.
The Association focuses on ensuring that the Allstars are included in all Association activities alongside other teams, to promote true inclusion.
The Allstars wear the same uniforms as the rest of the players at the Association and attend the same social events, carnivals and presentation nights. The Allstars are also supported by three dedicated coaches who run skills and matches for the players every weekend.
Rusty Hazel (individual award, WA)
Hazel’s involvement in the Woola Woola Koolangkas has enabled children from low socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to be involved with netball, organising uniforms, transport and meals after netball games.
Hazel’s impact on her netball community reaches far and wide, as explained in her nomination.
“Many of the young people Rusty has coached have since grown into young women and are now mothers themselves. I myself have witnessed grown women approaching Rusty and thanking her for the contribution and positive influence she has had on their lives, and guess who is now coaching their children? That’s right – Rusty …”
Paraburdoo Netball Association (Association award, WA)
With a population of just 1600 people, Paraburdoo Netball Association (PNA) did not have enough junior players to run a netball game each week. Determined to provide their juniors and ANZ NetSetGO players with an opportunity to participate in regular games, PNA now has two teams competing in the Tom Price Netball Association competition, despite the weekly 164km round trip across the Pilbara.
The inclusion of the Paraburdoo players at the Tom Price competition has lead to positive changes in the netball communities of both towns, including increased opportunities for networking and building relationships to increase netball participation across the region.
As their Award nomination outlined,“Up until now, both Associations have been very separate, so the integration of the players into the competition has seen a positive influence in connecting the two towns for the love of the game of netball.”