Celebrating 50 years of service to netball

Every successful movement needs the backing of willing and passionate people behind the scenes – doing the work that counts to drive things forward.

Netball is no different and, during National Volunteer Week, we want to celebrate all the hard-working people, all over Australia, who have dedicated countless hours across multiple years to get netball to where it is today.

One of those people is 74-year-old, Wendy Gambling from the Riverland in South Australia, who has done it all from commentary, coaching juniors to washing kits – spanning over 50 years in the game.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds fan said the roles she has taken on has led to lifelong memories and friendships.

“I started playing netball as a youngster, around 13 or 14-years-old and because we were living out of town we had to travel something like 19km to training and games.

“After that I was interested in coaching juniors, umpiring and staying involved in the sport – including promoting it through commentary and radio – it’s been a marvellous part of life and I think it keeps you active and prevents you from growing old.”

Wendy has received a variety of awards over the years, including a Contribution to Sport – South Australia Regional Hero at the Australia Day honours in 2007.

The Netball South Australia lifetime member said she isn’t concerned about the awards, it’s about her passion for the sport.

“The development of juniors is what I’ve always got the most enjoyment from, when you see them go through the academy and achieve state selection – I get a bit of pleasure out of that because it seems to cap off following them.”

Wendy has been a delegate at Netball Australia since 1985 and spent 26 years at the Murray Netball Academy as a junior through to team manager. She was also heavily involved in sourcing sponsorship to televise grand final matches in the 1980s.

She talked through some of her netball highlights, “my most precious moment was winning three gold medals when Managing the Masters Netball Club – particularly being successful at the World Masters Games in 1994.

“Most of the netball players went through the ranks at Country Championships and wanted to come back and have a go at the masters and they won the gold medal against New Zealand in the grand final. There were around 10,000 athletes involved in the overall event, it was just the pinnacle.”

The constant drive of people across Australia like Wendy, is the reason why we now have 1.2 million playing netball across Australia each week – thank you!

She finishes, “everyone thinks that I’m retiring. I am not retiring, I enjoy it too much, so no I won’t be walking away. I’ll still be doing a few of the things that I’ve been doing.”