Queanbeyan’s all-conquering netball duo Olivia Clark and Thalia Uilelea were selected for the Australian Indigenous netball team following their national title winning performance for NSW last week.
The two were pillars on either ends of the court for the NSW Echidnas at the under-16 Australian Indigenous Schoolgirls Netball Championships in Sydney.
During the grueling five day campaign the two played 12 matches and also attended trials for the national Indigenous team, the Australian Budgies.
Each has had a different netball journey but both said they were proud to be representing their Indigenous communities.
Thalia’s mother, Suzy Wilson-Uilelea, works with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has held postings in Fiji and the Torres Strait Islands.
This means Thalia has had little time to connect with her Indigenous origins until now.
Her family is from the Wiradjuri nation, and she says she enjoyed being able to meet new friends and elders during the tournament.
“It’s different playing for the Indigenous team,” she said.
“It’s special to be able to represent my community.”
The time spent overseas has also meant Thalia has only been playing netball for less than a year, which makes the selection in the national team extra special.
Olivia’s family originates from the Kamilaroi nation and she shared her close friend’s pride.
“It makes me feel good to know I’m representing part of my culture,” she said.
Olivia has netball in her blood.
She has been playing for many years and is no stranger to being selected to representative teams.
Her family is also well known for their netball talents with her mother, Megan Clark, also had an impressive career on the court.
President of the Queanbeyan Netball Association Kelly Lolesio said the honour for both girls was significant.
She said the two were hardworking “quiet achievers”.
“We’re extremely proud that the girls are representing their clubs and associations in such a humble and respectful manner,” Mrs Lolesio said.
Thalia and Olivia are both strong basketballers as well, and will be important additions for the Queanbeyan representative teams in the upcoming winter season.
The two will travel with the Budgies to Queensland in July to compete in a tournament on the Gold Coast.
And with future netball trips being considered, Thalia said she can’t wait to get back on the road with new and old friends.
She plays with the Sunrise Netball Club and Olivia’s local club is the Waratahs.