Tara Watson named in Netball Australia’s 17-and-under national squad

Elite Whittlesea netballer Tara Watson has been named in Netball Australia’s 17-and-under national squad for the second consecutive year.

Watson is one of seven Victorians represented in the Australia side and one of three Victorians across the 17-and-under and 19 and under sides to be named for a second time.

The squads will take part in training camps delivered by Netball Australia as an opportunity to develop skills and gain elite match-day exposure.

“When I found out I had been named again, I was over the moon. It really excited me, and I felt extremely grateful to have been recognised,” Watson said.

“It was still a surprise, and I just couldn’t be happier to be a part of it again. It means a lot to me, and I am just so thrilled.”

Watson’s experience last year was affected by COVID-19 restrictions. She was unable to train with the selected squad members from interstate, and state hubs were created, which saw camps completed via Zoom sessions.

She is looking forward to being able to work with all the selected members and experience the program in person.

“Last year the program was definitely impaired by COVID. We were meant to be heading away to Canberra to the Australian Institute of Sport [AIS] with all the other states, but due to COVID, we ended up all completing the camp in hubs in our home states,” she said.

“We had extra people come in and help us to make it as much like it would have been at the AIS as possible, and we had to do a lot of things over Zoom, which was hard with technical issues and not physically being able to communicate with the others.

“This time round I’m hoping to meet the girls from the other states and getting to know them. I am also excited to just take it all in and learn as much as I can on and off the court and take every opportunity to develop in a high-performance environment. I just can’t wait to learn new skills, meet new people and develop confidence within my game as well.”

Watson said she could not believe how lucky she was to be selected in the side again, and was grateful for her opportunities during the past year to continue improving her netball in elite environments.

One day, she hopes to make a side in the Suncorp Super Netball League, SSN, but for now will work on improving her skills to be at her best for when the time comes to be considered for selection.

“I honestly can’t believe how lucky I am to be where am I today with my netball. Three or four years ago I wouldn’t have even pictured myself to be in this position, but I am so grateful, and it really excites me,” she said.

“I love netball, so I think my main goals were just to have fun and enjoy myself whilst making progress along the way.

“Being re-selected in the state team and Australian program was one of my biggest goals before being re-named in the squad this year. It’s still all sinking in, but I am extremely keen to take my netball as far as I possibly can.

“A long-term goal for me would be to be selected in an SSN team, that would be a dream come true, but I think my main goals at the moment are just chipping away at the stepping stones and staying dedicated and working hard to try and get to the highest level I possibly can in the future.”

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