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Sun. May 26th, 2024

For many young aspiring netballers in our region, to be part of the QBE Swifts netball team would be a dream come true.

And North Star local and NEGS old girl, Charlotte Raleigh, is living that dream.

Based in Randwick, Sydney, the 24-year-old has been recently selected in the QBE Swifts Academy Team to take on the Australian Netball Championships later this month.

“It is definitely a dream come true to compete with the Swifts and I am so excited for the competition ahead,” Charlotte said.

“ANC is an amazing opportunity to put yourself out there, not only to the NSW club as your try your best for that team, but also to put yourself out there for the other Suncorp Super Netball clubs that have their amazing training partners that come into the mix.”

“Training partners do get pulled up onto the bench and do get to play at the highest level, so lots to look forward too.”

This is Charlotte’s second year as part of the Academy Team, training with top league athletes such as Sophie Fawns and Teigan O’Shannassy guiding the way.

“It’s so exciting seeing them progress into the Swifts and having that pathway so visible to us for all of the girls,” Charlotte said.

The defensive player is embracing every opening to improve her game and draw selectors attention.

“I feel like every year is a new challenge to improve and be a part of the Swifts Academy and learn as an individual in that environment and then take those skills to our premier league competition weekly and play with a lot of the same girls I am in the team with and a lot I complete against.”

And calling on Swifties past and present to help show the way with access to current Suncorp Super Netball players and former players during the season.

“In season there are times we cross paths and there are a lot of girls who we play with, and we can talk to and get to know more about what it takes to be at that level,” Charlotte said.

“A fan girl moment.”

Pressure aside, Charlotte’s priorities are clear.

“ANC is my first goal to enjoy that and out myself out there and whatever happens from that is exciting and I will keep training and being a Swift.”

Going the Distance

Charlotte grew up in North Star near Moree before attending NEGS boarding school in Armidale, where her passion for netball grew and her talent opened doors.

“I played my representative years with Armidale which was my first opportunity to do Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS), which was a massive pathway into the state team,” Charlotte said.

Since following her own pathway into the Premier League, Charlotte has become a role model for aspiring netballers from regional areas.

“I am always so excited and proud to be a country kid and seeing country kids come into the mix.”

“I know they’ve had to take that extra long road to be where they are, and I really resonate with their journey,” she said.

“I love playing with and against, and supporting any rural girl who comes into these teams.”

Regional pathways into higher level sports are slowing rising with Charlotte’s QBE Swifts Academy Team showcasing more representation of rural athletes and while other competitions are showing a commitment to a bright future ahead.

“North Shore United (NSW Premier League) have made a connection with NIAS, and we made a trip out to run a training session with the NIAS girls and make that link, that if they don’t make the team there are so many other opportunities for competitive netball and other pathways such as playing in the premier league or playing in the metro league.”

But there is always remove for improvement.

“There is so much talent out in rural areas, but the opportunity and investment to compete at a higher level regularly and take that next step has come along way but still has a way to go.”

And for all of those young netballers out there, some words of wisdom.

“Take every opportunity you get, that is something my parents have instilled in me,” she said.

“Work hard and you’ve got to love it, do it with positive people who lift you up and enjoy the sport.”

What’s next for Charlotte?

Premier League finals will wrap up in the coming weeks in which all of Charlotte’s attention will turn to the Australia National Championship (ANC)in Queensland.

At this year’s ANC opportunities for Aussie netball talent are set to grow with the addition of an eleventh team to the tournament.

The competition will run from August 21 to 27 at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre in Brisbane’s North, with teams coming from all over the country for bragging rights.

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