Ver­ity Charles: Net­baller.

Ver­ity Charles, 27, net­baller Aus­tralian Fast5 Net­ball World Se­ries team, West Coast Fever

The Saturday Paper - - Contents | The Week - Cindy Mac­Don­ald

As a five-year-old kid I al­ways wanted to play for Aus­tralia, so a small taste of it [this week­end] is very ex­cit­ing. I’ve played Fast5 be­fore, when I was 18 or 17. I was very in­ex­pe­ri­enced and, to be hon­est, I don’t think I re­ally put my best per­for­mance out there. So this will be my sec­ond time in Fast5 and, yeah, any chance to wear the green and gold – that’s the endgame, isn’t it?

It’s go­ing to be pretty full-on, but I love that it’s a quick game. That’s ben­e­fi­cial to me be­ing more of a speedy player. The short quar­ters mean you can push out as hard as you can and then ro­tate with subs. It’s such a hard com­pe­ti­tion be­cause you can score so quickly and the power plays re­ally get you, but I will 100 per cent back us. We’ve got some great play­ers in the team.

I know that tra­di­tional net­ball has built an amaz­ing rep­u­ta­tion and I get that there are peo­ple out there who don’t want to see it change. But at the same time I think the two-point shot and three-point shot are such ex­cit­ing as­sets to the game. It just gives some­thing new. And in those tight games, if you can sink a three on the buzzer… I think that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing for net­ball. So I reckon in a few years if they bring that in – how good?

Nathan [Charles] and I have been mar­ried for al­most two years now. We’ve prob­a­bly spent more time apart in these past two years than to­gether. He’s been over­seas play­ing [rugby union] in France and the UK. He’s just an amaz­ing per­son. He is the only pro­fes­sional ath­lete in the world with cys­tic fi­bro­sis play­ing a con­tact sport. So I don’t have to look very far to be in­spired. He is not only a beau­ti­ful per­son but also an ex­tra­or­di­nary ath­lete.

Sport has been the best thing for [my type 1 di­a­betes]. The older I’ve got the more wise I’ve be­come and I think I’ve got a re­ally good han­dle on it now. Di­a­betes is a dif­fi­cult dis­ease but I also thank my lucky stars that it’s noth­ing worse. In net­ball, if my lev­els aren’t right, then I don’t play right – my head’s just not there. And also nerves come into it. You don’t want to get ner­vous be­cause that in­ter­rupts your blood glu­cose lev­els. With the de­mands of pro­fes­sional sport you’ve got to be onto it and very strict. So you have to count calo­ries, count carbs and you’ve just got to be pre­pared. I was never an or­gan­ised per­son but di­a­betes has def­i­nitely made me that. I’ve got to have my meals prepped and know what I’m eat­ing. I’ve got to have food in my back pocket in case I have a low. Of course I wish I never had this dis­ease, but if you’re go­ing to have it, you just have to deal with it, and that’s what I try to do.

I guess Nath and I both just think, “Con­trol the con­trol­lables.” We got dealt these hands and you just have to roll with things. It’s a bless­ing we’ve got each other. Be­ing two ath­letes with a health con­di­tion, we know how to sup­port each other. As I said, I look to Nathan and I’ve got in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery day. So I feel very lucky. For a while we got into one-on-one bas­ket­ball, but that just can’t hap­pen any­more – I think it will end in di­vorce. Even go­ing to the driv­ing range, which I thought would be quite re­laxed, there al­ways comes the com­pet­i­tive side. That’s okay, that’s what keeps you driven. At the mo­ment, hav­ing a lit­tle bit of time away from Fever, we’re train­ing to­gether. It’s pretty hard to out­lift him in the weights room, but I’ll give it a crack. I get frus­trated when he beats me so I’ve got to take it to him. On the ground, do­ing the speed work, I’ve got him, but in the weights room he’s hard to beat be­cause he’s a strong boy.

Nath came back from the UK and jumped into club rugby. His grand fi­nal was on the same day as the Su­per Net­ball grand fi­nal. Nath came to my game and as soon as it fin­ished took off and played the sec­ond half of his. The lit­tle bug­ger ended up scor­ing the win­ning try, so he did re­ally well.

It was dis­ap­point­ing for West Coast Fever to lose the grand fi­nal. But we still did cel­e­brate the sea­son be­cause from where we came last year to sec­ond place this year, that’s mas­sive. You’ve got to ac­knowl­edge the hard work we put in and what [coach] Stacey [Marinkovich] has done with the team. It’s a hard pill to swal­low but you’ve got to cel­e­brate the small wins.

You never want to see one of your mates delisted. But that’s the thing about sport – it’s a busi­ness at the end of the day. I think that’s what ev­ery­one for­gets. Of course I’m go­ing to miss Nat [Med­hurst] at Fever – she has be­come a good friend, and she’s an amaz­ing ath­lete. But it made it a bit eas­ier when I heard she got a gig else­where and is still go­ing to be out there do­ing what she loves. When we come up against Colling­wood next year I might ask the coach to put me in goal de­fence. They’re the fun times – give each other a bit of a bump here and there and have a cou­ple of words, and then hug it out af­ter the game. I’m sure we’ll do that.

It’s hard to even pic­ture some­thing out­side of net­ball be­cause I love what I do. I’m do­ing per­sonal train­ing, so I’ll end up in some kind of health and fit­ness role. I don’t want to stop be­ing ac­tive, es­pe­cially hav­ing di­a­betes. Any­one who asks me what to do with di­a­betes,

I tell them ex­er­cise is hon­estly the best medicine.

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