Early hours of Wednesday morning, an empty carpark, locked doors and no light besides one court at the State Netball Centre shining bright as three of WA’s best netballers work on their craft.
Jerome Gillbard, Dylan McPherson and Jason Heard are being put through their paces by West Coast Fever Coach Stacey Marinkovich, ahead of the Trans Tasman Cup set to get underway in Adelaide this month.
“Growing up it’s been a dream of mine to represent Australia in any sport, I never thought it would be netball, but since playing it’s good to know there is a pathway to strive towards,” Heard said.
“It’s not just a fun sport you can play with your mates, if you like it that much and you want to work hard there is somewhere you can aim for at the top end.”
“It’s becoming more publicised now and there’s lots more opportunities.”
Heard will represent Australia in the Men’s 23U squad, a far jump from his humble beginnings in a mixed competition.
Prior to national duties, he was in the Open Men’s West Australian Team for the Australian Men’s and Mixed National Championships, representing WA four times, along with playing in both the Reserves and 23’s Competition.
The 22-year-old has also been a regular feature in the newly established Men’s West Australian Netball League Division this year, representing the Perth Lions team.
His ambassador role for men’s netball extends off the court, working as a Suncorp NetSetGO Participation Coordinator for Netball WA, with the State boasting the highest number of boys in the program nationally.
Suncorp NetSetGO have reached a record high in WA, with more than 17,500 children join a program in 2018.
“It really starts at that grassroots level, Suncorp NetSetGO is accessible to boys and girls in that five to 10 age bracket, so it would be great to see more boys starting from that young age,” he said.
“Hopefully this can be a way to show boys there is a pathway and you can represent your country at an elite level.”
Suncorp NetSetGO is a fun and safe introduction to the sport and is the best way for girls and boys aged 5 to 10 to have fun with their friends, keep active and learn the basic skills of netball in a safe and social environment.
To find one of the 446 centres running Suncorp NetSetGO in WA, click here, or for more information on how to become a centre and run this exciting program, please contact Carolyn Clancy on 9380 3732 or Jason Heard on 9380 3720
Click here to watch Jason, Jerome and Dylan and Australia in action at the Trans Tasman Cup.