At the beginning of the 2014 netball season, 18 year old Pine Rivers product Mahalia Cassidy wasn’t even selected in the Queensland team, now she’s pushing her case as a future Diamond.
The mid court speedster was named alongside new Mission Queensland Firebirds recruits Gretel Tippett and Beryl Friday as one of three Queenslanders in the 12-member Australian 21/U team to head to New Zealand for a week-long tour later this month.
“I’m very, very shocked and overwhelmed really,” gushed the teenager who claimed she wasn’t keen on attending the trials in the first place.
“I was upset the night before going as I was so nervous and easily intimidated as many of the girls are so good and play in the ANZ Championship,” Cassidy said.
“So when Lisa Alexander (Diamond’s coach) called my name out, I was shocked, but I am so excited.”
Mahalia Cassidy has had a year of call-ups, proving persistence and patience pays off.
She missed selection for the Queensland 21/U team earlier this year but was pulled in to replace an injured Bronte Orrell and helped the maroons to a fourth placing at the nationals.
Overlooked for a spot in the Australian squad, Cassidy was again called up when injury created a vacancy.
Her inclusion in the national team was purely based on form and talent and will see her make her international debut against the best netballers in the world.
Cassidy is part of a team that was announced at the conclusion of an extensive three-day training camp at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra and contains 10 ANZ Championship-listed athletes.
Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst said the quality of talent in action at the selection camp made choosing the final team difficult for the selection panel, which also included Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander and Nicole Richardson.
“We needed to have a match play session to confirm the last couple of spots,” Obst said.
“The team is very excited to have the opportunity to play against the world’s No.1 and No.2 ranked sides and push their cases forward as future Diamonds.”
Mahalia Cassidy says she was just excited to be named in the squad, but like she has all year will make the most of the opportunity.
“It was just awesome to train alongside some of the players in the squad, let alone make the team,” she said.
“I think maybe my speed helped me attract attention and now I’ll just take the next step up and play my best.”
The team will fly out to New Zealand next Friday. They will play against the Diamonds on Tuesday 30 September and take on the Silver Ferns on Wednesday 1 October with the possibility of a third match being scheduled.
They will also attend the first Test of the Constellation Cup series between the two countries on Thursday 2 October.
The Australian 21/U touring party is:
Courtney Bruce (WA/West Coast Fever),
Mahalia Cassidy (QLD)
Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Sarah Klau (SA)
Cody Lange* (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Kate Moloney (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Madeleine Proud* (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Chloe Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Liz Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
*subject to fitness