Alice Springs Highlights with Nat Sligar

Having just recently started at NETFIT, my first few weeks have been eventful to say the least. Starting work, settling into the weekly routine, and getting myself set-up for the season in Sydney, before a fortuitous phone call and then a move up to the Sunshine Coast.

To say that I am just coming back down to earth after a couple of hectic weeks and a LOT of travel would be an understatement. To be honest though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am loving every minute of living out my netball dream and when I say dream, I haven’t even mentioned that I’ve just been on Tour with Sharni Layton…

Last week, after a quick flight from the Sunny Coast to Sydney, connecting to Alice Springs, I found myself in 40 degree heat and a full-on netball programme. NETFIT was returning to the NT for the third year in a row, with their second consecutive visit to Alice. Despite the logistical hurdles required to make it to Central Australia for the NETFIT x ASNA netball festival, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We city-slickers can sometimes underestimate the power of a visit to a remote, or regional area who often don’t get the opportunities that those in the metro hubs do.

Day 1 was hot! So, I was delighted NETFIT Splash was one of the opening programs on the card. To see the smiles and pure joy the boys and girls shared was great. Sharni and I certainly felt the burn from the tough session and warm climate, but we were able to cool off through the Splash initiative, although this meant having water balloons thrown at us.

Given the timing within the netball season, I had training sessions of my own to complete whilst on Tour. I was delighted that after our NT TID sessions Grace, Nellie and Sarah stuck around to keep me company and do some extras. Even though it was only a short space of time we were able to connect and continue working with these girls throughout the week. They were so responsive to feedback, and I am confident the skills both on and off the court will guide them well through the season, into nationals and beyond!

A massive highlight was working with the beautiful kids from Yipirinya School. Their faces as they walked into the big stadium was so moving. Something we take for granted every day at training can bring so much excitement. The natural talent and skill of the students is phenomenal, and they were able to apply them to netball quite quickly… a future SSN star or two amongst the kids!

Sharni had told me that the session with the Thorny Devils would be a highlight, and it certainly proved to be. This amazing group love netball, teamwork and community connection more than anyone I have worked with, and it was amazing to see their joy at being active and within a team environment expressed on court. I am passionate about creating inclusivity and bringing about happiness, sport is such a great platform to do this.

To be able to make events like this happen, it clearly takes great effort, energy and assistance from so many organisations and people. The Athlete’s Foot’s constant commitment to community netball and inclusivity helps NETFIT do what they do, while GIANTS Netball got right behind the events, with the players donating shoes and equipment, while an amazing organisation called The Sports Bra Project sent up a heap of brand new, high quality sports bras. Helping ensure that safe sporting resources for young women are available throughout the year.

Alice Springs is such a powerful place and exploring the vast land really makes you feel tiny in comparison. I was constantly reminded just how amazing our country is, and I certainly can not wait to get back to the NT.

To Jay, Jen, Deb and the entire Alice Springs community thank you so much for having us, making us feel welcome and delivering an amazing weekend. I hope that you all got something out of our time there, however (I’m about to steal Mama Mel’s insta quote here), we left with a lot more than we gave.

The stories and experiences from the past week will stay with me forever.

Nat Sligar x