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16 September 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Wimmera athletes Sacha McDonald and Maggie Caris will continue on elite netball pathways after winning spots in national squads.
McDonald, a talented goalie and wing attack, has qualified for the 2020 Netball Centre of Excellence 21-and-under squad, while up-and-coming shooter Maggie Caris has made the 19-and-under squad.
Caris, of Horsham, has also won an invitation to an AFLW draft combine planned for later this year.
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Netball Australia has named its excellence squads ahead of the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup, which has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
McDonald, 20, said she was thrilled to make the squad and be in a position to qualify for the world youth cup team.
“The process is a bit mixed up because of the COVID situation, but there will be training camps scheduled for later this year or early next year,” she said.
“Being named in the squad, with so much talent alongside me, is really exciting and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
The International Netball Federation is yet to confirm a rescheduled date for the youth cup, but is looking at late 2021 or early 2022.
While McDonald would love the opportunity to pull on the green and gold, she has a more immediate goal in mind.
The Edenhope native is part of the Melbourne Vixens’ campaign to secure the 2020 Super Netball League premiership.
McDonald is one of five training partners to join the Vixens squad in a Queensland hub.
Because of the nature of the condensed season, each team can name 12 players for each match, up from 10. This includes 10 full squad members and two additional players, such as training partners, who can vary from match to match.
Go, go, go
McDonald said although she was yet to take to the court in Queensland, she was relishing her opportunity.
“We’re very lucky to be able to come up here and the experience being around everyone has been great,” she said.
“It’s been go, go, go since we got here. It’s a condensed season, but it’s still 14 rounds, so we’ve been playing two games a week. We’ve just finished doing that and we will have one game a week for the next two weeks and then the finals start.
“We are sitting on top of the ladder at the moment, which is obviously the ideal position to be in.
“I’m grateful we can play out a season considering the conditions.
“I think it’s also put some smiles on the faces of people back home, who have been able to watch the Vixens in action.”
McDonald said she looked forward to catching up with her family and friends and hoped restrictions would allow her to return home for a visit by Christmas.
“I wish Edenhope had an airstrip and I could fly straight home to the farm,” she said. “I went to boarding school from a young age and I’m used to being away from home, but there are still challenges. I find it harder knowing what my family is going through, knowing I have relative freedom up here.”
McDonald said she appreciated support from the Wimmera.
“I’ve had so many lovely messages about how people have really engaged with netball during the pandemic and are enjoying being able to watch some sport,” she said.
“I’m really grateful for all the support I receive from back home.”
McDonald said her movements following the Super Netball League season were up in the air.
“It all depends on what else is occurring and what the restrictions are,” she said.
“This season is our priority and then I guess I will concentrate on the 21s program – hopefully we can go to the camps.
“After this season I think we will all be due for a mental break and will be looking forward to spending some time with family when we are able to.”
Two rounds remain in the 2020 Super Netball League season, ahead of a three-week finals series.
The top four teams will vie for the premiership, with the grand final scheduled for Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on Sunday, October 18 at 1pm.
The entire September 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!