The SA Rubies have returned home from Brisbane with silver in tow, following their successful bid at the 2018 Marie Little OAM Shield.
The three-day tournament, named after AUSRAPID founder Marie Little OAM in recognition of her work to improve the lives of people living with an intellectual disability, saw six states and territories battle for the title.
After losing only one game in the minor rounds, a competitive gold medal match saw the Rubies – South Australia’s state netball team for players with intellectual disabilities – defeated by just two goals in a tight tussle with New South Wales.
Despite the loss SA Rubies Coach, Tricia Crockford, said she could not have asked for more from the team.
“They played superbly. Each and every time they stepped out onto court they gave 100%,” she said.
When quizzed on their training in the lead up to the competition, Crockford described the effort that had gone into the SA Rubies silver medal win.
“The girls definitely improved with each training session. We knew that NSW in particular were going to be quite physical, so one aspect we worked on a lot was being hard at the ball,” she said.
“A common trait of people suffering from intellectual disabilities is that they struggle with being in close proximity to others, so for all of the girls to go out there and be hard at the ball was a great effort.”
Having beaten the previously undefeated New South Wales side on the second day of competition, SA Rubies Captain, Isabella Ivancic-Holland, said the win was her favourite part of the tournament.
“In our first game on Friday we lost to NSW, but we worked hard and won by one goal in the second match,” she said.
“It was disappointing not to win the competition in the end, but the team went crazy when we won that game. It was great.”
Although the Rubies second day win over New South Wales was their most hard-fought win, Crockford said the team’s best games were against sides with less experience.
“The win against NSW was great and gave us a lot of confidence that we could beat them in the future, but with other teams we were able to demonstrate our skills and help them with small things like standing on the line to pass.
“It was really beautiful, and I thought it demonstrated the true meaning of the competition.”
Proudly sponsored by Netball Australia’s Community and Social Inclusion Partner, Australia Post, Crockford said the competition was a great source of enjoyment for the girls, both on and off the court.
“Every chance they get to have some time away with their friends is new and exciting for them,” she said.
“They take the opportunity very seriously, and to go to a competition full of people who have the same abilities as they do is something very special and beautiful”.
For Isabella, the significance of a competition enabling players with an intellectual disability to take the court and represent their home state or territory on the national stage was clear.
“It means so much to be able to play for the Rubies and represent the state of South Australia,” she said.
“It is an honour, and something I will always cherish.”