Queensland will contest the Marie Little Shield for the first time this weekend – a national netball tournament for athletes with an intellectual disability.
The two-day tournament at Olympic Park in Sydney on 20-21 August 2016 will feature five teams from around Australia, with the Queensland squad having trained for 12 weeks to prepare.
Queensland coach Merrin McCullough said the competition provided myriad physical and mental benefits for all involved.
“Marie Little Shield gives this special group of athletes something to aim for,” McCullough said.
“We’ve been training really hard and the girls commitment has been faultless. We have athletes who have been travelling down to Brisbane to train all the way from Bribie Island and the Sunshine Coast.
“The competition will be a great chance to make friends and have fun, but will also be great for the players’ independence. It’s a weekend where parents and support workers aren’t going with them, which is huge for many of these girls.”
McCullough said Queensland under 19s star Claire Frost had been key in helping her team prepare and would give the side an edge come Saturday’s first centre pass.
“Claire’s attended almost every training session and volunteered her time to help the players,” she said.
“To have someone of that age on the elite pathway who took an interest in working with intellectually disabled athletes was just a wonderful thing and the team benefitted immensely.
“Long term, we hope Marie Little Shield will help build a pathway for people with disabilities to regularly enjoy and compete in netball at an advanced level.”
Firebirds and Diamonds star Clare McMeniman will present the squad with their dresses on Friday 19 August 2016. Stay tuned to Netball Queensland’s Facebook page (@NetballQ) for photos from the presentation.
Queensland Marie Little Shield squad: Carla Nitz (C), Danielle Burns, Jasmin Catterall, Jennifer Collins, Kathryn Wilson (VC), Leticia Pope, Lisa Lenton, Nicole Skerman (VC), Wilhemena Thaw. Coach – Merrin McCullough. Manager – Phoebe Lennox.
Marie Little OAM was the founder of Sport Inclusion Australia (formerly known as AUSRAPID) in 1986 and dedicated her working life to improve the lives of people with an intellectual disability using the medium of sport.