NEWCASTLE’S queen of netball Sam Poolman is set to a major milestone as she records her 50th appearance in the Suncorp Super Netball.
Fittingly, Poolman and the Greater Western Sydney Giants are set to line up on Sunday against the club that gave her the first chance at glory in the league, the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
It’s a record the GWS keeper wasn’t 100 per cent sure she’d get to in the league, but after a career of ups and downs that began back in 2013, she’s certainly looking forward to it.
“It was never really a main goal of mine because when I was coming into the scene it seemed a bit out of reach,” Poolman told The Women’s Chronicle on the eve of her milestone match. “After I did get involved in the teams, obviously the wins and results meant more to me than notching up appearances.”
“You see so many athletes come into professional scenes that will have a one or two year contract and they seem like they’re coming to stay, but they disappear after the end of that time. I just wanted to prove I could play at this level and that I belonged.
“I have been struggling a year at a time to make sure that I have a contract, so when that was the case fifty games never even crossed my mind, and it wasn’t until I came into the stable environment [with Greater Western Sydney] that it even really became an option.
“I’m happy and proud, especially to reach the milestone with an amazing club like Giants.”
GWS are set to face the Thunderbirds as the Adelaide club looks to find their first win of the 2018 season, but Poolman knows the Giants can’t be complacent at AIS Arena.
“They are at the bottom of the ladder so that makes it a big game for us,” she said. “It’s that token dangerous game where anything can happen, so we have to be careful heading into the match.”
“In terms of my milestone, I’ve always been a team player first and foremost, so that’s the mentality that I take into all our games. If we get the win then that’s what matters to me.
“All that being said, netball is a bit of a different sport when it comes to milestones, there’s a lot less games so making it this far is really special. I’ve been enjoying it all week.”
As well as the personal achievement that comes with making half a century of appearances in the national competition, Poolman knows that “giving back to where [you] come from” is key.
Newcastle’s star keeper hopes her march to the top can be replicated with women coming through her ASPIRE Development Program.
“After my time with Adelaide I spent a lot of time back in the Hunter and I noticed there was a lot of girls that didn’t have that way to bridge the gap between regional and state competitions and the top levels,” she said.
“If I can help young girls and women in the Hunter make it through that gap and get to where I have been then it will all be worth it. There’s 17,000 girls playing netball in the region at the moment. We’re seeing more and more athletes making it through now and that is so special for me.”
Poolman’s 50th game will be played on Sunday afternoon, and will be available for streaming on Telstra TV, through their partnership program with Super Netball.