LEADERSHIP is a word which sits comfortably with Koroit netballer Kasey Barling.
The five-time Hampden league premiership player has occupied coaching and captaincy roles during a decorated career which reaches 250 open-grade games on Saturday.
Barling is a teacher by trade - she works part-time at Warrnambool College while she raises son Jude - where communication is key.
"It (leadership) is something I am naturally drawn to and I guess being a teacher you're used to speaking and directing," she told The Standard ahead of her milestone game against Hamilton Kangaroos.
"That mentoring thing is in me, whether it's coaching and captaining.
"Coaching and playing is really difficult. If I was to coach again it might be more of a sideline gig but I do love being captain and being that now-older voice."
Barling - mum to Jude, 2, and married to police officer Lachie - has chalked up 250 games across two clubs.
She played 138 for Warrnambool, where she is a two-time premiership player, across seven seasons.
The next 112 came at Koroit after arriving at the Saints in 2015 when she joined friends at Victoria Park.
Barling, who has coached the club, has since added three more flags (2017, '18 and '19) to her resume.
"A lot of the girls I played with in the Warrnambool ones, I ended up playing with again at Koroit," Barling said.
"A lot of us migrated out there. There's a handful of girls I've had a lot of success with and they're life-long friends which is nice."
Barling, who is co-captain alongside Molly McKinnon this season, has carved a name for herself in defence.
It's where she's most comfortable and has enjoyed some fierce battles.
"I'd say most of my games have been in the goal defence role but I've had whole seasons in wing defence and then whole seasons in goal keeper," she said.
"I found my strength was reading the play and anticipating what people were going to do was my thing.
"I haven't gone into attack yet - maybe I can get them to throw me in there for a quarter."
There's been numerous challenging opponents - for a multitude of reasons - over her 15-year career.
"I find (Warrnambool's) Amy Wormald to be difficult," she said.
"With a goal attack - I am not overly tall but I tend to be taller most of the time - so when they're tall and athletic, it's like 'what can I do to get one up on them?'.
"I have played with some amazing, amazing netballers and when I think of good players, I think of the smart players.
"You think of your Jacqui Bowmans, Stacey O'Sullivans but I also think back to my Warrnambool years when I was playing with Marissa Chapman.
"She was an amazing shooter, could shoot it from anywhere, and I was always in awe of how she played and I only ever played interleague with Emma Beks but she scared me, she was that elite.
"I was 17 still and didn't get a lot of time on the court but I went along and I was actually scared to receive a pass off her as she was just so powerful, athletic and incredible."
At 32 Barling is the veteran in a new-look Koroit team learning from co-coaches Kate Dobson and Kerri Jennings this season.
Her teammates include teenagers Millie Jennings, Scarlett O'Donnell and Shelby O'Sullivan.
She is unsure how long she'll play for but having fun - as has always been the case - is her number one priority.
"If netball continues to be an enjoyable thing and not a strain on me physically and mentally, I'll keep playing," Barling said.
"I don't mind what grade it is."
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