The Adelaide Thunderbirds have finished their regional tour with a bang, ending their three day trip on the Eyre Peninsula in Port Augusta over the weekend.
Over 100 budding netball stars took to the courts at Central Oval, eager to learn from the best before they return to Adelaide to begin their season against the West Coast Fever in round one.
Captain of the Thunderbirds Leana de Bruin, New Zealand import Cathrine Tuivaiti and country girls Sasha Glasgow and Hannah Petty had the full attention of Port Augusta’s netball future.
“It’s great to be able to get them out and give back to the community and for the young girls to see what it’s like being a Thunderbird,” General Manager of Commercial at Netball SA Brett Mathers said.
“We were sold out within two days, so for us it was a fantastic result and it shows the importance of us doing these sorts of activities.”
Impressed by the Central Oval complex and the overwhelming turnout, Mathers hasn’t ruled out a return of the tour in the future.
“It’s definitely part of the plan, schedule permitting for the athletes,” he said.
“We can do a lot more in regional areas and that has got to be focus for us to continue to develop the talent that comes from places like this.”
Growing up on the Eyre Peninsula in Wudinna, Petty knows how important regional connections are to the strength of netball in South Australia.
A crowd favourite, Petty has cemented her position on court with grit and determination after battling injuries in her earlier years and was last year named captain of Australia’s Netball World Cup Youth team.
“A lot of girls that do make it are actually from the country,” Petty explained.
We can do a lot more in regional areas and that has got to be focus for us to continue to develop the talent that comes from places like this.Brett Mathers
“Sasha (Glasgow) is from the York Peninsula and I’m from Wudinna, so it’s really exciting to give back to these communities that do give a lot to netball as a sport.
“It’s really great to be able to get back and show that appreciation and show that you can make it and if you do have that dream you can follow it.”
After a three hour netball clinic run by the players, 9-year-old Sienna Boxall was just one of many who were all smiles after walking away with some new skills before the start of the netball season.
“It was really fun getting to meet all of the Thunderbirds,” she said, unable to pick a favourite player.
“I learnt how to dodge and I learnt to defend and intercept people.”
The players took time to sign autographs for an excited crowd after giving away Gilbert netballs to a few lucky raffle winners.