New South Wales has taken out the gold medal at Netball Australia’s tournament for women with an intellectual disability, the Marie Little OAM Shield, which was held at the State Netball Centre in Perth over the weekend.
Undefeated for the whole tournament, only drawing with South Australia on Sunday, a competitive gold medal match saw NSW win the Shield for the third year in a row by defeating South Australia 11-10.
Captain Melissa Gallagher was ecstatic with her team’s win: “It’s an amazing feeling. I’m proud of the girls today, they did really well.”
On the idea of the Marie Little OAM Shield, Gallagher was thankful to be a part of the event.
“It means the world to me,” she said. “It gives people with disabilities the opportunity to have a go. Everyone is equal on the court. We just try hard and we want to represent our state.”
Coach Jenny O’Keeffe was proud of her team.
“The idea for us was to walk away knowing that we had done absolutely everything that we could and we were happy with how we played and to win it was an absolute bonus,” she said.
“The whole vibe has been incredible and I think with every year, it just gets greater and greater, especially with new teams coming in.”
Queensland’s Nicole Skerman was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament while Western Australia’s Shakira Jamieson received the Naomi Perry Spirit of Netball Award, recognising her sportsmanship across the three days. The award is named in honour of the former Western Australian player who passed away last year.
The three days of competition saw teams from six states and territories participate, with South Australia taking out the silver medal, Victoria the bronze and Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia coming in fourth, fifth and sixth.
The event pays tribute to Marie Little OAM, the founder of Sport Inclusion Australia (formerly known as AUSRAPID) who dedicated her working life to improving the lives of people with an intellectual disability, using the medium of sport.
Robyn Smith, CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia, believed the event honoured the late Marie Little OAM perfectly.
“The Marie Little OAM Shield has just improved out of sight since its origin,” Smith said.
“Each year it’s got bigger and better and now we see six teams contesting and being really competitive.
“The Marie Little OAM Shield encapsulates the spirit of sport and sportsmanship and we learn a lot of lessons.
“I feel that if we could bottle up all this humanity and sportsmanship, we’d all be better off.”
The 2017 Marie Little OAM Shield would not be possible without the support of Netball Australia’s Community Inclusion and Diversity Partner, Australia Post.
Watch the weekend’s highlights in the player below: