From Morwell to the international stage

Excited: Georgia Zammit and Sienna Blair eagerly await Maltese National Netball team tryouts. Photographs: Zaida Glibanoivc





MORWELL East’s very own A Grader’s Sienna Blair and her cousin Georgia Zammit will fly over to Malta to try out for the Maltese national netball team next month.

Both young women have close links to the country, With Zammit’s father being Maltese and Blair’s grandparents emigrating to Morwell in the 1960s.

Blair is excited to represent her family heritage: “Mum will always say like ‘keep going with your netball, you might play for Malta, you might play for Malta’…all the time, and then here it is actually happening,” Blair said.

For Zammit she said her family was equally elated and proud.

The pair will fly out Saturday, April 8 to start training with the Malta side on the following Monday.

The pair will have the opportunity to attend a training camp in Rabat, in preparation for the tournament. The team will train three days a week, with an increased training regime scheduled heading closer toward the European championships.

When asked about A Grade netball the pair said: “We may miss three or four games if we’re selected for the international team.”

“We will be living over in Malta, we will be staying in probably, Sliema and catching a bus to and from training.”

When asked if the cousins would have gone out on their own without each other for support Blair stated: “For me at least being freshly an adult and having to go overseas, yeah no. It’s good to have Georgia”.

Zammit loves how sports can be the best equalizer.

“To note its harmony week this week, so multiculturalism I think it’s something that should be celebrated in terms of being able to provide access to an elite supporting community. I’m really excited to meet new people.”

“I think sport is something that brings people together, I personally haven’t experienced any racial slurs or commentary with regards to race in the sport, but hopefully, connecting, talking about netball speaking about netball and engaging in harmony week, I think hopefully we can put an end to that sort of negativity.

“But, I’d love to be able to open doors for others, who may have experienced that personally as well,” Zammit added.

When asked what she would tell her younger self, Blair said, “I would say keep progressing and keep trying hard because you’ll never know where you could end up.”

European championships will begin on May, 10.

France, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Israel, Ireland, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and Wales will all be competing alongside Malta which ranks 33rd in the world.

Traralgon’s Judi Buhagiar is well known in the Latrobe Valley netball community, being the Eastern region manager of Netball Victoria.

Buhagiar has been Malta’s netball mentor for the last three years, forwarding the thought of bringing the young women over to play for Malta.

“When I first started doing it was a light-hearted conversation, you know we can get some players from Australia to go over there”. For Buhagiar, she had to look no further than Morwell, as she “always had Georgia and Sienna in mind,” she said.

“I’m Maltese obviously and I have a crazy passion for my parents and my heritage in fact I have six netball teams that I coach at Traralgon netball association and it’s called the Melita Netball Club, Melita being another name for Malta.”

Buhagiar noted that the trip will be quite costly for the trio.

“Mario Sammut, the president of the Latrobe Valley Maltese community centre, has been an enormous push and massive driver for fundraising.

“He put us onto an organisation called the Maltese Community Council of Victoria and they have a program called the Maltese Cultural Scholarship and they have donated to us $2000 each toward our airfares.”

The Maltese Community Centre Latrobe Valley has also generously contributed a $1000 donation toward the women’s trip.

To raise more money for the netballer’s, there will be a high tea fundraiser at Churchill Football-Netball Club rooms at 2 pm, Sunday, April 2. If you would like to book, call Linda Welsh on 0401 844 629.

Skills: The two young women will train like professionals in Malta.