It is 4:00am, 5 July 2017. A birthday for some, an ordinary day for many. For myself and Best Wilson Buckley Family Law Associate Alecia Connor? A different type of court for the day and the first day of the annual five day Queensland State Age Netball Championships. The temperature is yet to reach double figures, it’s at least two and a half hours until sunrise, but we find ourselves jumping out of bed to greet a bunch of eager 12 year old girls ready to show the state their netball skills. This is everything they, and arguably we, have worked for. Hours of training and practising to refine every little skill. Months of planning and strategising to ensure the girls are entirely prepared for this mammoth five-day event. It’s finally game day, and those 12-year-olds are more ready than ever to walk out onto that court.

It is 10:20am, 5 July 2017. The first game of the tournament for our Brisbane Netball Association (BNA) Under 12A team. There is a sense of anticipation in the air, completely masked by the excitement radiating from every girl. The girls warm up as a cohesive unit, supporting each other with every move. We hear words of comfort following a dropped ball, “don’t worry about it – you’ll get the next one”, and words of encouragement as the girls take to the court, “we can do this, girls!”. A nerve-racking 15 minutes into the first game and we’re up by 8. The final hooter rings and we’ve taken out the game by a whopping 20 points. A cracking start to a five-day carnival, and a fantastic showcase of just how far this team has come. Whether the girls would maintain this level of commitment and effort was truly an unknown… After all, they are only 12!

It is 4:30pm, 7 July 2017. The end of a long, tough day. Unfortunately, the girls faced three straight losses on day three, against teams of an extremely high calibre. The rain fell from 6am until 4pm and temperatures reached an all-time low. This significantly increased the level of difficulty that came with every move on the court. Passes had to be shorter and sharper, movements had to be careful and strategic and the team had to really pull together to help each other through a difficult day. Our girls were not phased in the slightest. The team huddled under the association tent between games, planning new team chants and choreographing team dances to be showcased when the sun was shining again. The girls were becoming stronger as a team – a true testament to the suggestion that adversity simply brings people together.

It is 2:30pm, 9 July 2017. The closing ceremony. Five days, 15 games, over 50 hours spent at the courts, and these 12-year-old girls were not showing any signs of wavering. A valiant effort sees the girls finish an incredible fifth in the state, out of 63 teams!  The teamwork amongst these girls is something to be truly admired. The level of support, resilience and inclusivity the girls demonstrated across a huge five-day carnival was astounding. Not once did we see these girls give up. Not once did we see them pass blame between themselves. The girls’ achievements throughout the tournament absolutely highlights that being a part of a team can take you to greater heights than you ever believed possible. Individually, these girls are good netball players. As a team, these girls are in the top five under 12 netball teams in Queensland… You tell me which is more impressive.