Del Saunders’ 60 years of netball

Netball NSW would like to congratulate Newcastle Netball Association President Del Saunders OAM who this year celebrates 60 years in sports administration.

Saunders first took office with the Association as Secretary in 1955, becoming the President in 1978; a position she continues to hold 39 years later.

In a recent interview with the Newcastle Herald, Saunders was asked about all the early starts and her motivation to keep doing it.

“It’s challenging but rewarding when you see players who you’ve had a hand on in some way or another develop to the best of their abilities,” Saunders explained to Georgia Osland of the Newcastle Herald.

“That’s why I do what I do.”

A talented netballer, that won the NSW Country Championships in 1955 as part of the Newcastle team, it was umpiring where Saunders found her calling.

She achieved her B, A and AA umpiring badges in 1956, 1957 and 1974 respectively, earning her the right to umpire at a national level.

Today she has been umpiring for more than 50 years, including a 10-year stint at the National Netball Championships.

When asked by the Newcastle Herald why she pursued umpiring, Saunders says it was somewhat of a “personal challenge”.

“When you’re a player, the better the umpire, the better the game,” she remarked.

“Because I had been on the other side of the line as a player, when I went out with a whistle and badge I was always challenged to provide a good game for the players.”

If she wasn’t busy enough, Saunders has coordinated the Hunter Academy of Sport’s netball umpires squad for the past six years and coaches the Association’s senior players every week.

As President, Saunders has notched up several achievements including the expansion of the Club from 10 to 30 hardcourts and campaigned for a new clubhouse, which was built in 2000 and named in her honour.

Her services to netball in NSW are long and distinguished, with Netball NSW acknowledging Del Saunders’ tireless contribution to the sport with the Anne Clark Service award in 1984.