Saunders hopes community visits inspire young girls

photo3Young girls in some of Australia’s most remote communities were given a treat recently when they were paid a visit by Aboriginal mentor and former netballer Melina Saunders.

Saunders, a former Australian 21/U and Queensland Firebirds player, spent five days travelling to communities across Central Australia where she spoke to young girls about her life’s journey and sporting experiences, as well as delivering netball clinics to school groups.

The Northern Territory Government provided a grant as part of International Women’s Day for the netball roadshow which was supported by Netball Northern Territory and Netball Australia.

Saunders travelled to the Aboriginal community at Hermannsburg, located 131km south-west of Alice Springs, as well as Tennant Creek with Netball Northern Territory Development Manager Karen Randell.

Saunders is a member of Netball Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and is the ACT Program Manager for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.

photo (5)Having been to Alice Springs late last year as part of a sports camp for Aboriginal children from the Central Desert areas of the Northern Territory, Saunders said she was “privileged” to be able to visit these areas of Central Australia to reach the women and girls of these communities.

“A big part of Aboriginal culture is storytelling,” Saunders said. “So by sharing my own experience, I hope that all of the young girls who participated in the clinics are inspired to make positive life choices and become strong women within their community.”

Randell said it was fantastic to watch the interaction between Saunders and the Aboriginal girls who had little contact with netball before their visits.

“Melina started each session by getting acquainted with the students, sharing her own story about her family, living on a mission and her sporting career. Melina expressed the importance of positive lifestyle and choices,” Randell said.

“The students really engaged and responded well with questions and discussions, sharing information about themselves.

Melina with Roadtrip sign“After the discussion, activities were set up and the students were put through some fun and skillful drills before a modified game. There were a lot of smiles and laughter and the students had loads of fun.”

Netball Northern Territory CEO Shelley Haynes hopes the netball roadshow will inspire young girls in life and sporting pursuits.

“What a wonderful experience for our staff member Karen Randell to visit two of our remote communities and pass on her knowledge and skills to the local school children.  This would not have been possible without the fantastic government support we received for this event,” she said.