Esperance Sea Gals fly at Australian Masters Games

The 50s Sea Gals: Back row, left to right: Kath Trotman, Wendy Harkness, Janette Fletcher, Fiona Spencer, Mechelle McArthur, Helen McCarthy and Wendy Hansen. Front row, left to right: Karen Gravestocks, Julie Kirkup, Fiona McDonald (Umpire), Suzette Partington and Wendy Skinner.
The 50s Sea Gals: Back row, left to right: Kath Trotman, Wendy Harkness, Janette Fletcher, Fiona Spencer, Mechelle McArthur, Helen McCarthy and Wendy Hansen. Front row, left to right: Karen Gravestocks, Julie Kirkup, Fiona McDonald (Umpire), Suzette Partington and Wendy Skinner.

Feeling invigorated, although a little weary, two teams who proudly represented Esperance in netball have returned after competing in the Australian Masters Games in Adelaide. The Games are held every two years in a different city. This year nearly 8000 athletes competed in 45 different sports.

Calling themselves the Esperance Sea Gals, this was the first time that Esperance netballers had attended the Master's. In fact, as was determined over the week, it was quite an achievement to have two teams from a small town compete and no other country town from WA were represented in this sport. With only one player, Jackie Moir, currently playing netball and most not having played for over two decades the idea to attend the games was initiated a year ago, with the motivation being to not only play again a sport they loved and to improve fitness but also to resurrect the camaraderie and friendships created through netball in years past.

The 60s Sea Gals: Back row, left to right: Kath Gellard, Ali Fijak (McCarthy), Sue Maher, Jenny Kay (Walter), Bev Drabik, Ros Neill and Peta Polikwa (McCarthy). Front row, left to right: Jackie Moir, Suzi Dale, Ronnie Young, Jenny Brodie-Hall and Kath Donovan.

The 60s Sea Gals: Back row, left to right: Kath Gellard, Ali Fijak (McCarthy), Sue Maher, Jenny Kay (Walter), Bev Drabik, Ros Neill and Peta Polikwa (McCarthy). Front row, left to right: Jackie Moir, Suzi Dale, Ronnie Young, Jenny Brodie-Hall and Kath Donovan.

Training began in November last year, gently and carefully, but as fitness and skills developed so the intensity lifted and the Tuesday night training session was eagerly anticipated - helped also by a rotation of current teams playing in the ENA who provided essential match practice. Over the year one player from each team withdrew, Kath Trotman due to injury and just days from departure, Jenny Whitman due to unforeseen family circumstances.

In Adelaide the 50s team played eight games and two finals, culminating in winning a bronze medal. They rotated their nine players effectively and their speed and accuracy on court was outstanding. The over 60s team played seven games and their versatility and endurance was rewarded in attaining a silver medal in their age group. It was a credit to all players that, despite a few minor injuries, they were able to play out the week on the hard, outdoor courts.

Special mention must be made of ENA President, Fiona McDonald, who umpired for both teams and officiated in an impressive 15 games. The teams were also grateful to Kath Trotman, Wendy Hansen, Kath Gellard and Peta Polikwa who were supporters and scorers. Having five McCarthy sisters together at the games was very special. With the next Australian Masters in 2021 being held in Perth the Sea Gals encourage current and past sportsmen across all sports to nominate either as an individual or in a team.

The benefits are immeasurable!