As honourable members would be well aware, on Sunday 11 July the mighty Adelaide Thunderbirds thumped the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the ANZ Championship Grand Final at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. A huge and vocal crowd watched the Thunderbirds take out the ANZ Championship. The atmosphere was electric, with a full house of 9,300 people cheering the girls on.
In what was widely acknowledged as a dominant performance, the Thunderbirds proved too good for the Kiwis on the big stage, winning 52-42. Putting the disappointment of losing last year’s Grand Final behind them, as well as a loss to the Magic girls just three weeks prior, the Thunderbirds were deserved winners.
It was an honour to be there in my capacity as shadow minister for sport. Like the other people in the crowd and those watching at home, I was proud of the Thunderbirds’ performance.
The Thunderbirds fully deserved the premiership, as they have enjoyed a remarkable season. So, well done to the entire 2010 squad: Emily Beaton, Georgia Beaton, Erin Bell, Kate Beveridge, Carla Borrego, Mo’onia Gerard, Jasmine Keene, Sharni Layton, Geva Mentor, Jo Sutton, Natalie von Bertouch, Sheree Wingard, Edwina Gosse, Melissa Rowland, Beth Shimmin and Kate Shimmin.
The Thunderbirds’ domination of this season is reflected in the recent announcement of the 2010-11 Diamonds squad. Six Thunderbirds players were named in the squad, and they give themselves a chance to be in the team at the upcoming Commonwealth Games. We expect big things from this team, and I am sure they can grab the gold medal in Delhi. The Adelaide Thunderbirds named in the squad are Emily Beaton, Erin Bell, Kate Beveridge, Mo’onia Gerrard, Sharni Layton and Natalie von Bertouch.
The state Liberals are strong supporters of the Thunderbirds, who are terrific role models for the great sport of netball. Members would be well aware that the state Liberals were committed to giving netball some significant and vital financial assistance should we have won government in March. I commend the team at Netball SA for the future plans it has for the sport here in South Australia.
I congratulate the Chief Executive, Stephanie Greene, and her board—Chairman, Graeme Gilbert, Val Wright, Lisa Gilbertson, David Dahm and Mark Harris. They do a tremendous job, as do all the committees and the entire staff at Netball SA.
Netball has well over 90,000 participants in South Australia, and it is an important sport to so many communities, particularly in regional areas. Only last week, I was at Port Augusta discussing the planned central oval redevelopment. The discussion quickly turned to netball, how the sport continues to prosper and the need for facilities to accommodate the rising number of participants.
I have noted the Premier’s recent comments in the other place about the importance of netball in the community. Given that the Premier feels this way, I encourage and challenge him to talk to Stephanie Greene and the board of Netball SA about matching the level of support the opposition promised at the last election. I am certain Stephanie would be more than happy to take a call from the Premier.
Although I doubt that particular phone call will come, I congratulate the Premier and the Lord Mayor for the reception held last week to honour the team. It is important that these types of achievements are celebrated, and I strongly support that particular gesture.
Lastly, the Thunderbirds celebrated its inaugural gala dinner at the Adelaide Zoo Sanctuary Room last week. It was a memorable night, with the squad and great team of committed coaching staff, led by Jane Woodlands-Thompson, being congratulated for a season to remember.
Co‑Captain Natalie von Bertouch’s form on the court was duly recognised, with her taking out the majority of awards on offer, sharing one with sharpshooter Carla Borrego, who was sensational in the grand final.
I wish the Thunderbirds and coaching staff an enjoyable break, if they are lucky enough to get one, and I have no doubt they can go back to back and win the championship again next season.