The Australian Diamonds rising star is the inaugural Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month, a new award to celebrate the important role the Commonwealth Games has in an athlete’s sporting journey.
Diamonds defender Sunday Aryang is the inaugural winner of the emerging athlete of the month award.
Over the course of 2022, a young athlete will be honoured each month, receiving a $500 gift voucher to go towards their training expenses and go into the running to earn the title of Emerging Athlete of the Year, winning a $5000 scholarship grant from Commonwealth Games Australia.
Aryang recently made Australian netball history, becoming the first African-born player to represent the Diamonds after entering the game against South Africa in the recent Quad Series in the second quarter, coming on at goal defence to join Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist Courtney Bruce in the circle.
Aryang continued her impressive domestic league form at the international level, finishing with three gains, two rebounds and an intercept in just over two quarters of action.
“At the start I was quite nervous, when I was standing there waiting to go on, but once I got out there and got around the girls I was definitely more comfortable and it was fun,” Aryang said to Netball Australia.
“I’m super proud to be the first (African-born player) to represent the Australians. It’s always been a goal of mine and it’s just great to be able to achieve something so big not only for myself but for the African community.”
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Bruce said following the match that she was thrilled for her 21-year-old teammate.
“I’m so proud of her. I think I was celebrating more when I got to see her run on the court,” Bruce said.
“Sunday and I have a really good relationship and a good partnership out there.
“It’s such an exciting time to get to debut and it’s really special to have another West Aussie get her opportunity.
“I am so proud of her and watch out because this is just the beginning of a phenomenal career for her.”
The Diamonds went on to defend their Quad Series title and made a statement ahead of the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games, a Games where the Diamonds will be going for gold.
From finding out about her selection into the Australian Diamonds touring squad, to flying overseas and then debuting on the international circuit, Aryang has had an exciting few months to say the least.
“It took a while for the news to sink in after I had been told about my selection into the team. But once it had, I was then so excited for the opportunity and really eager to get into it all.”
“The tour to England was different to how the girls had described previous tours before COVID-19 had hit, but it was a pretty cool experience being in a new country for the first time. The girls were also so lovely with helping me fit into the environment.”
“I don’t usually get nervous, but before my first game I was so nervous. I’d fallen asleep before Stacey’s [Marinkovich, Diamonds head coach] announcement of the team for the next match, so woke up the next morning to the news. I was pretty nervous that whole day, but once I got out there the nerves just went away.”
Commonwealth Games Australia has a focus on supporting emerging talent and a history that spans 90 years that includes some of sport’s greatest moments.
The Commonwealth Games serves as a platform for developing future stars of Australian sport and The Emerging Athlete of the Year is a new award is part of a refreshed Awards and Honours program being developed by the recently formed CGA Heritage and Awards Committee to help continue to add new chapters to the storied history of the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The CGA Emerging Athlete of the Year Award celebrates the next generation of Australian sport stars who are on track to make their multi-sport debut at the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and those may make an impact for Australia at major sport events later in the year and beyond.
The emerging athlete will be from a sport on the Games program for the next edition of the Games and will be a young athlete who is in the frame for Games selection, but has not yet been a member of a previous Olympic or Commonwealth Games team.
Member Sports are welcome to contribute suggestions, but a formal nomination process is not required.
Three finalists (selected by the Awards Sub-committee) from the monthly winners be invited to the Presidents Dinner in 2023 and receive a $1000 CGA scholarship towards their sporting career.
The annual winner, selected by the Awards Sub Committee will receive a $5000 CGA scholarship toward their sporting career.