Bridget's the Pride of the court

BRIDGET Smith would have been content spending the Victorian Netball League (VNL) season honing her skills as a development player with Ballarat Pride.

Instead, the Emmanuel College student is counting down the hours until she makes her debut in the VNL 19 and under competition tonight.

Ballarat Pride selectors have called on Bridget, 16, to fill a void in defence for the season opener against Booroondara Genesis at the State Netball Hockey Centre.

The promotion comes after the club’s first-choice defenders pulled out with illness, which opened the door for Bridget to debut in the elite underage competition.

Bridget, a South Warrnambool junior who plays for Warrnambool City in the Western Regional State League, said she was excited about the turn of events.

“I find it an achievement to make the development side of it,” she said.

“I’m only bottom age so I was happy just making the development side but I was even happier making the actual team for the week.

“They had some players out with illness and they were in my position so I got pushed up. I’m excited, I’m really thrilled to be playing in Melbourne.”

Bridget, who will be one of the youngest players in action as part of round one tonight, said she wanted to take her netball as far as possible.

Her ambition means she could be spending 10 hours travelling a week — once to Ballarat for training and once to Melbourne for matches.

She has Roosters training on top of that, as well as after-school work at Warrnambool Stadium. Netball is essentially her life.

“I umpire netball as well. I did VNL umpiring last year so it’s all netball. I’ve umpired all the people I’ll be coming up against,” she said.

“I want to keep playing because I know I can umpire when I’m older, but I might not be able to play when I’m older.”

Smith is one of three Warrnambool netballers involved in the VNL. Her Roosters’ teammate Britt Hyland is part of the Geelong Cougars’ 19 and under side.

North Warrnambool Eagles’ Maddie Drew is also at the Cougars, but as a development player. They play Southern Saints to open their season tonight.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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