Australia’s golden netball girls have been named the August Emerging Athletes of the Month, following an undefeated run that saw them claim the inaugural gold medal at the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games.
The team, which was “so excited and grateful to be given the opportunity” to be selected, came together to secure the gold medal in an electrifying final match that saw them defeat South Africa 39-29.
“It was an incredible and exhilarating feeling; it was so exciting, and we were all so happy and proud of ourselves and our efforts over the whole week,” Tabitha Packer said.
“It was so much fun getting to share it with a group of girls that had grown so close to each other.
We were grateful for the opportunity and were so proud and fulfilled with all of our hard work.”
The triumph of topping the podium followed their undefeated run during the pool matches, where they successfully took on Scotland, Canada, and hosts Trinidad and Tobago, before defeating England in the semi-final.
For teammate Monika ‘Otai and the wider team as a whole, it was a “very thrilling experience to come together as a team… and an even bigger privilege to represent our country in the green and gold at Trinbago.”
Beyond securing the gold medal, ‘Otai paid tribute to the journey that the team, and indeed all athletes, undertake in their pursuit of sporting success.
“Receiving a gold medal is deeper than just winning, as it represents all the hard work and effort that went into it.
For a lot of us, the reason we continue to play netball is for that little girl who fell in love with the game, so winning the gold medal truly accomplishes all our dreams as those little girls.”
With a key focus on “building the connections” both on and off the court, Packer and ‘Otai were quick to thank their coaches and wider support teams for all their support.
“We’d like to thank Commonwealth Games Australia and Netball Australia for giving us the opportunity and a platform to play the sport that we love, as well as our coaches and physio Elissa, Anita, and Kandice for their commitment and dedication which was an imperative part of this whole journey,” ‘Otai said.
Echoing ‘Otai’s statements, Packer also extended her thanks to the “Commonwealth Games Federation for organising the event and all of the hard work behind the scenes and the people of Trinidad and Tobago and all of the staff” for their efforts in hosting the Games.
“Lastly to our parents, for all of the support you have given us prior to this point. None of this would have been possible for us without the help of everyone, and we will be forever grateful for this lifelong opportunity.”
Australian FAST5 Netball Team – Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games
- Nicola Barge (Sutherland Stingrays and Swifts Academy)
- Georgie Cleaver (Western Roar)
- Jada Delaney (Sunshine Coast Thunder)
- Sasha-May Flegler (Saints Netball)
- Gemma Hutchings (Brisbane North Cougars)
- Mia Lavis (Wodonga Raiders)
- Monika ‘Otai (UTS Randwick Sparks)
- Tabitha Packer (Contax Netball Club)
- Lucy Voyvodic (Matrics Netball Club)
- Clara Wigley (Curtin Hamersley Comets)
Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) has a focus on supporting emerging talent and celebrating the next generation of Australian sport stars.
Over the course of 2023, an athlete will be recognised each month as the Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month and will receive a contribution towards their training expenses.
Three finalists from the monthly winners will be invited to the 2024 Commonwealth Games Australia Presidents Function where one will be named the Commonwealth Games Australia Emerging Athlete of the Year.
The annual winner, selected by the Awards Sub Committee will receive a $5000 CGA scholarship toward their sporting career.