Sport is at its best when it unites for a common goal, when it can bring together people to support a cause and directly impact a community. We’ve seen so much of the sporting community rally to support those affected by the Australian bushfire disaster. It’s a powerful reminder of how much we as a nation look to our sporting heroes in times of crisis to lead the way and to use their platform.
Australia’s netballers are one example of the sports community coming together and on March 1st, the nation’s best will be putting on a show to show their support.
Courtney Bruce, Australian Diamond 172 and one of the nation’s best defenders is excited about the prospect of joining her fellow Diamonds and taking on some of the best netballers that the Super Netball have to offer.
“I think it’s just going to be an amazing event to be honest. Obviously, we all want to be able to help out and help the bushfire appeal in any way we can, and being able to get the best in the league going up against each other, I think it’s going to be quite a spectacle and we get to do it for an amazing cause.”
The West Coast Fever defender is keen to do what she can to help, considering how far away she’s felt from those areas doing it the toughest from where she is in Western Australia.
“I guess particularly over here in the west, you know, it feels like it’s been a bit harder for us to contribute and help out, so on a personal level, to be involved with this, it means a lot if I can do a small thing to help raise some money.”
The Australian Diamonds will take on a team of Super Netball All Stars at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Sunday March 1. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to see Australia’s netball finest all on the same court. For Bruce, it also provides a special opportunity to potentially come up against her West Coast Fever teammate and sensational shooter, Jhaniele Fowler.
“I’ve played on her a fair bit over here so I guess it will be a nice little battle! We always say with a shooter like Jay, is you’ve got to do all the work out the front and make my life easier at the back. So it’s all about the GD’s and the WD’s shutting their players down so it’s easy for me! But I think there’s definitely going to be some fun banter and some laughs out there between Jan and I, we know each other’s games pretty well these days.”
While the charity match offers the chance for these athletes to put on an entertaining show and have some fun, for this Diamond, there is also a lot of pride on the line.
“I think there will be that fun element to it but I think also as Diamonds, we will be wanting to go out there and prove that we’re better than the All Star team, so I think they’ll definitely be that fun/banter element to the game, but I think at times we’re going to be pretty serious. We want to win and do a good job. I think it’s going to be a good balance between the two.”
Last week’s shock announcement of the parting of ways with Australian Diamonds coach, Lisa Alexander, also offers another layer to this match. Alexander will still coach the Diamonds in the charity match, making it her last appearance as head coach of the national team. Bruce was one of many shocked by the news
“Obviously, it was a bit of a shock. I’ve been lucky enough to be coached by Lisa in the last couple of years. So, yeah, shocked to see her go, especially after the legacy that she’s left in Australian netball.”
Looking forward to the charity game, Bruce is reflective and grateful she’s got another chance to celebrate her revered coach.
“I think that’s the main thing for us as Diamond players is just to celebrate the legacy that she has left behind. I think it’s going to be a good send off for her and hopefully it’s a bit more chilled and a bit more fun out there too, so she gets to enjoy the moment for herself. It’s just going to be quite special.
“Personally for me, she gave me my opportunity with my debut by backing in a really young, inexperienced defender and she’s kind of created me into the defender I am today so yeah, it’s going to be sad to see her go but I’m excited to celebrate everything that she has done.”
Thinking about Alexander’s legacy, Bruce has nothing by praise for the woman who has had an immense impact on her netball career, and her life.
“She’s just taught me a lot about self-belief and self-confidence. She’s quite a confident person herself. She’s definitely instilled that in me, how to back yourself in.
“But yeah, I just look at memories such as my debut in Brisbane a couple of years ago, the Commonwealth games and the World Cup. And just yeah, I guess the things away from the court, she does make us laugh! So it’s all those little moments away from the court too that have just been amazing and special to me.”
The Sunday March 1 bushfire relief charity match at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney now offers fans more than just the chance to support a worthy cause and see the best netballers in the country. It now allows an opportunity for fans to come together to farewell and celebrate the most capped Diamonds head coach of all time.
“We’re doing it for such a great cause and you’re getting to see the best netballers in the world on the same court, which never ever, ever happens and could potentially never happen again.”
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS TEAM
Coach: Lisa Alexander
- Caitlin Bassett (captain) (GIANTS Netball)
- Liz Watson (vice-captain) (Melbourne Vixens)
- Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball)
- Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)
- Courtney Bruce (West Coast Fever)
- Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)
- Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts)
- Tegan Philip (Melbourne Vixens)
- Jamie-Lee Price (GIANTS Netball)
- Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
- Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens)
- Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)
- Maddy Turner (NSW Swifts)
- Jo Weston (Melbourne Vixens)
*Thwaites selected to play with the Diamonds one last time
*Steph Wood was unavailable for selection due to injury
SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL ALL-STARS TEAM
Coaches: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts) and Julie Fitzgerald (GIANTS Netball)
- Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)
- Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball)
- Nat Haythornthwaite (NSW Swifts)
- Helen Housby (NSW Swifts)
- Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
- Emily Mannix (Melbourne Vixens)
- Kristiana Manu’a (GIANTS Netball)
- Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies)
- Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)
- Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
- Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
- Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds)
- Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
- Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts)
*SSN All Stars captain to be named in coming weeks