Achieving on & off the sporting field

Netball – Sights set on 2000

This story originally appeared in Deadly Vibe Magazine Issue #5 June, 1997

We have just opened The Vault – all the back stories from old editions – dating back to the 1990s. To know where we are going, it's important to understand where we have been. And that story you can follow in the Deadly Vibe Vault!

In the special women’s issue this month we are taking a look at the most popular female sport in Australia – Netball. Deadly Vibe chatted with former international netballer Sharon Finnan and new scholarship holder in netball and athletics Shauna Turnbull.

Women’s netball in Australia is BIB. There are over 350,000 registered participants and it is estimated that over two million players are active in the game all over the world. The top netball nations are New Zealand, Australia, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica and England.

Sharon Finnan has her sights set on the year 200 and the Olympic Games. Why wouldn’t she? She made the first Australian team for the 1990 Commonwealth Games won the 1991 World Championships in Sydney and received the auspicious Order of Australia Medal (OAM). She is a skilled player and has a strong dedication to her sport.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new and always do things with a purpose,” is Sharon’s advice to Aboriginal people in sport.

Sharon was born in Surry Hills. At the tender age of nine Sharon began playing competitive netball for Oatley RSL. As a young girl she played most sports at school; athletics, swimming, volleyball, basketball but she realised that netball was the sport she enjoyed most.

In netball circles Sharon is described as a “late bloomer” as she was only first noticed by the selectors as a member of the Australian School Girls team at the age of 19 years. Unlike the majority of Sharon’s team mates she did not climb the netball ladder of State teams on her way to the top.

As a young teenager Sharon admits that she was really naïve about the larger netball arena that existed. She was unaware of anything bigger than the club level she was playing in.

The composed 29 year old began her representative career at the age of 20 as a member of the NSW 21 and under side. The following year she was promoted into the NSW Open team.

Sharon’s dream was always to play for Australia. That dream came true when she was on scholarship for the AIS in Canberra in 1988.

“The ticker-tape parade for the Commonwealth Games team was the greatest experience netball career.” Sharon said.

Australia holds the record amount of wins in the Netball World Championships than any of the competitors, with wins in 1963, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1991 which are held every four years. Netball is quite a new sport, It wasn’t until 1970 that the game was official named “Netball”. Prior to this netball was known in Australia as “Women’s Basketball” and the All Australian Women’s Basket Ball Association (AAWBB) promoted a seven-a-side netball game. Recent rule changes have meant that the modern international game is quite different than what it was in the 1970’s and is extremely fast and exciting!

While at the Australian Institute of Sport, Sharon received the experience necessary to compete with distinction both nationally and internationally. While at the AIS Sharon received sports science and sports medicine training, nutritional guidance, personal and career development, educational assistance and high performance coaching.

Sharon has earned her place in the NSW Open team for the past 8 years.

Another memorable moment for the former international was her inclusion in the 1991 Australian team for the World Championship final. Sharon like her team mates received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for being part of the victorious World Championship team.

“Receiving the OAM made up for every team I missed out on the disappointment of missing out on selections, trying to get back in and missing out again. The OAM made up for everything,” Sharon said.

Sharon is undoubtedly a committed player and extremely down to earth woman. Netball has opened many doors for Sharon and her present goal is to enable other Aboriginal netball players access to the world she has experienced.

Sharon feels being a role model for young people is an honour and is looking to do more for younger people when her playing career is over.

Sharon is now training hard to win the National League and be selected for the Commonwealth Games team in 1998 and of course every sports person’s dream – the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

“All kids need role models to give them confidence and the will to have a go themselves,” Sharon said.

“I hope that my success will inspire al Aboriginal kids and in particular, netballers to fulfil their dreams.”

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