COULD Korumburra-Bena’s Shae Kyle be the next South Gippslander to play netball for Australia?
The 17 year-old defender has been quietly rising up the ranks of Victorian netball, and vice president of Korumburra-Bena Netball Club, Jo Holmes, says there’s a strong chance she could make the Australian Netball League as soon as next year, and head on to even bigger things.
Shae made it into the tier two program for the under 19 Victorian netball team in December last year, a program that involved weekly training sessions in Melbourne with specialist coaches.
She missed out on selection for Victoria’s under 19 Nationals team, but she says she learned a lot through the program, and became a much stronger netballer.
“I couldn’t wait for every Sunday morning to arrive. I couldn’t wait to better my training and I learned so much just from listening and absorbing,” she says.
And missing out on playing for Victoria didn’t stop Shae playing at Nationals. In a fortuitous turn of events, she was handpicked to play for Tasmania’s under 19 side at the National Championships, after a Tasmanian player bowed out with an injury.
Classed as an ‘import,’ Shae flew twice to Tasmania to train with the team, before heading to Adelaide for the Nationals in April.
She played the whole tournament without missing a game, and although Tasmania failed to reach the finals, Shae says playing in Australia’s “hardest” netball competition was an unforgettable experience.
“I met an awesome group of wonderful people I’ll remember forever. And I didn’t come off [the court]. I played the whole thing and had a crack.”
Since returning from the Nationals, Shae has been playing for Korumburra-Bena in A Grade every Saturday, as well as travelling to Melbourne twice a week to train and play with the Yarra Aerials’ Division 1e team in the Victorian Netball League (VNL).
She was also the youngest player and the only Korumburra-Bena player in West Gippsland’s open team at the recent Interleague competition.
It’s been a lot to juggle for the Year 12 student, but Shae says it’s all worth it, and that playing Division 1 “pushes [her] to where [she] wants to be”.
Jo Holmes has known Shae since she started playing for the Giants at the age of 13, and describes her as “devoted” to her netball and “trying to get as far as she can”.
Shae says she’d like to play for Australia one day, but she’s concentrating on setting and achieving small goals for now, with her parents and her teachers at Leongatha Secondary College helping her keep a balance between sport and study.
“I’ll get through Year 12 first, and then I’d like to do a Bachelor of Nursing and pursue netball as well,” Shae said.
“I just love to keep challenging myself and setting realistic goals to further my netball.
“I’m only 17 so every game, I just want to learn more and more.
“I enjoy the challenge and playing against other women and just having a go and seeing that if you try, yeah, you’ll have some losses but there’s always a reward.”
Shae says her netball career has been greatly helped by the Korumburra community, and she’s “forever grateful” to the local businesses who’ve sponsored her this year, and to the Robin Holmes Foundation and the Korumburra-Bena Football Netball Club for their ongoing support.