PORTLAND netballer Donna Fearon-Ciugureanu is a Hampden league recruit with a difference.
The versatile tall arrived at the Tigers via the United Kingdom.
Fearon-Ciugureanu moved to Australia with her young family last August in search of a better work-life balance.
She settled in the south-west after landing a teaching job at Portland’s Bayview College.
Netball — a sport she’s played most of her life — was put on the back-burner.
But she was soon encouraged to join the Hampden league ranks and has established herself in the Tigers’ A grade line-up.
“When I left for Australia I actually sprained my ankle and it was a bad sprain and I was not sure if I would play again,” she said.
“I had time off with injury so it is a good level for me to get back playing.
“I still have to work in the games because age is against me now.”
Fearon-Ciugureanu played at a high level in the UK and is using that experience at wing defence, centre and goal defence at the Tigers.
“I used to play for a team called Academy and I played there for 18 years,” she said. “That was my main club. I played Super League, the equivalent of the ANZ Championships here but it’s not as high profile as here because it’s not professional.”
Fearon-Ciugureanu said she enjoyed the dynamic of netball and football coming together to provide a family atmosphere.
“Netball is a big thing in England but here, even in a country town, it’s huge,” she said. “Everyone is friends off the court but once you’re on the court it’s good (and competitive). It’s a good balance.”
The mother-of-two said her family was learning about Australian Rules.
“We’ve watched games at Portland and it is totally different to rugby,” she said.
Fearon-Ciugureanu, who has taught PE for 16 years, said she had settled in well at Bayview College.
“I am head of PE there at the moment,” she said.
“The kids are lovely and because it is a small school it is very intimate and you get to know the kids well.
“The class sizes are small and you can focus on everyone. I worked at my old school for 13 years and loved it but it was almost too big — 1800 kids ranging from 11 years old to 19 years old.”