A group of Gippsland women have overcome heat, injury and fierce competition to emerge 55 and over B grade netball champions at the Pan Pacific Masters Games at the Gold Coast last month.
Their team, Splice, defeated Gold Coast-based Corrimal Village 24-22 in the grand final to be crowned champions.
Splice was made up of players from Churchill, Yinnar, Korumburra, Wonthaggi and Woodside.
Jenny Mills, the team’s goal defence, said the tournament featured some stiff competition.
“The masters games are very, very competitive and you see a lot of people every year and you see old faces and the old friends that you’ve met,” Mills said.
“(There are) some ex-state players who are naturally very tall and cagey older women who can really feed the ball well.
“It’s really tough, especially on the defenders to stop that drive down the court.
“I’m amazed by the athleticism of some of the women.”
Playing in hot conditions, the team was in early trouble when it lost its goalkeeper 15 minutes into the first game.
The injury led to a scramble for a replacement among competitors who had travelled to the event to take part in other sports.
“We were desperately looking for a goalkeeper and we found one at the basketball and we found one that came from Woodside-way,” she said.
Mills said the players from the Gold Coast were so good they would “compete very well in the football leagues with some of the A grade teams”.
Splice originated from a previous netball team called ‘The Old Spice Girls’ which has been competing in masters events for 20 years.
But with just a few of the originals still playing, Mills said the team decided to change the name.
“We’ve had quite a few girls and as they get older they drop off a bit,” she said.
“But there’s a few of us who kept going – there were only three originals who played up at the Gold Coast.”
But the Old Spice Girls aren’t done yet – with a reunion planned as the team gears up for next year’s edition of the tournament which will be held in Devonport, Tasmania.