When GWS Giants star keeper Sam Poolman arrived at Krystal Dallinger’s school to tell her she would have the chance to design the club’s Indigenous Round dress, the young netballer admits there were “a fair few tears”.
Dallinger – who has become a key shooter for the Hunter United Diamonds in the Dooley’s Metro League this year – met the Super Netball star through Poolman’s ASPIRE program at the Hunter Academy.
After the development program was finished, and Poolman was heading back to the Giants, Dallinger gave her a present: a club hat emblazoned with Indigenous designs, to thank her for everything she had done.
The act blew Sam Poolman off her feet – a tough ask considering her talents as a Super Netball keeper.
“I was blown away by the time and effort that Krystal and her mum must have gone to to create a gift for me,” Poolman said of the gift. “I took the hat back to the Giants and said ‘I have a netballer in my region that is talented and passionate and she’s created this art’.”
Newcastle’s top netballing talent asked her club if they would get her onboard for the first Indigenous Round design and they agreed.
“The Giants backed me in the decision and I went to Hunter Sports High to surprise Krystal and told her she’d be selected to provide her own design for the dresses,” Poolman explained. “There were definitely a few tears then.”
“Now it’s printed on our dresses and she gets to look at that and know she was part of the history. It’s something really special for her.”
Special isn’t the only word Dallinger envisions when thinking of the chance – “surreal”, “exciting” and “incredible” all came to mind as well.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do something this amazing for the Giants netball team, and for NAIDOC,” the 16-year-old Hunter Sports High student said. “To be able to do this for my culture, and represent my love for both is just surreal.”
Dallinger, who moved from Dubbo to the Newcastle area in recent years, had a chance to meet the entire Giants roster on Tuesday morning at a private unveiling of her design and will attend the Indigenous Round match.
“It’s still so surreal that it’s all happening, I never in my wildest dreams thought anything like this would happen,” she said. “Seeing behind the scenes, seeing [the Giants] prepare, and train, gives me the inspiration to work the absolute hardest that I can.”
“I want to be in one of those dresses one day, inspiring younger kids and youth coming up through the systems. It’s definitely the dream.”
As well as history being made with the comp’s first Indigenous Round, the Giants-Swifts derby will play the very first match held at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour.
The Giants are in striking distance of the top spot if they can score a victory over their state rivals, and the squad has received a serious boost ahead of the clash – four injured players have been confirmed available for selection in Sunday’s match.
As well as Poolman, who has been recovering from a facial laceration during the week, English import Serena Guthrie will return to the court after dispelling concerns a knock to her jaw may have been more serious than first assumed.
Shooter Jo Harten (leg) and club captain Kim Green (calf) have also both been able to train this week in preparation for the derby clash.
The Giants will line-up against the Swifts, wearing Dallinger’s Indigenous dress design, on July 8 at the International Convention Centre. The all-NSW clash will also be featured on TelstraTV.