Fay Harris is pictured front row, far right.
Fay Harris (nee Clifford) who was one of South Australia’s best netballers in the early 1960s, passed away on Christmas Day last year, aged 75. Her performances for Garville in the A Grade, now referred to as Premier League, and in state teams were rewarded with selection in the 1963 Australian netball team.
South Australia is well renowned for producing star netballers, but what makes Fay’s story even more incredible and one to be shared with the South Australian netball community, is that she was deaf.
At the age of six, Fay fell ill with measles, resulting in hearing loss. By the time she was 16, Fay was almost completely deaf.
Fay’s sister, Pauline Fielden – who too has a decorated involvement in netball in South Australia, being a part of Contax Netball Club for 60 years – said she is incredibly proud of what Fay achieved.
“It is incredible that she played at the level she did,” Pauline said.
“As Fay couldn’t hear a whistle, she relied on watching her teammates and when they stopped, she knew an umpire’s call had been made. Fay was also a very good lip reader – she would lip read what her teammates were saying.”
“Fay played centre, and at the centre pass she would wait for the movement of the wing attack to pass the ball.”
At age 10, Fay began playing netball for Ladypeds. From there, she was an A Grade player for Cheerio and then Garville. In the 60s she played Junior State and Senior State, capping off her achievement with selection in the Australian team in 1963. Fay was coached by Lena Pomeroy in both club and state level for many years.
Pauline said herself and Fay followed in their parents’ footsteps of enjoying sport.
“Our parents were sporting people. I think that if your parents enjoy playing sport this passion is passed on. We were very much supported by our parents, they came to watch all our tennis and netball games. When Fay was in the state teams, my mother and father went wherever she played.”
Fay finished playing netball after getting married in 1964. She is survived by three children and six grandchildren.