Talented Horsham netballer Bianca Lauricella is preparing to represent her state for the fourth time, at next month’s Marie Little OAM Shield in Brisbane.
Lauricella, 18, has been picked for the past three Victorian teams at the tournament, which serves as a national all-abilities netball championship.
Lauricella, who has an intellectual disability, said she was thrilled to be back on the Victorian team for the tournament.
“I started playing netball when I was six years old,” she said.
“I always wanted to play. I love playing netball because it helps keep your fitness up, you get to make new friends and you get to meet lots of people. It helps my confidence as well.”
Lauricella, a member of the Wimmera Whippets all-abilities sporting club, plays mostly at centre but can also switch to wing attack or wing defence.
She is a decorated athlete, having been nominated for the Wimmera Sports Star of the Year Award and the Ricci Marks Award, which recognises the outstanding achievements of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria.
Lauricella said she was proud to represent her Wotjobaluk heritage and the Wimmera when playing for Victoria.
She also said she enjoyed playing several games in the span of three days as a way of challenging herself.
While Lauricella has made the Victorian team before, qualifying again was no easy process.
Her mother Robyn said Bianca trained in Melbourne every Sunday as part of the selection process and would continue to train with the team in the lead-up to the shield.
With players needing to make their own way to Brisbane for the championships, Robyn said she was considering setting up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for flights.
But while the logistics of getting Bianca to the championships are complicated, Robyn said the experience was worth it.
“One of the Melbourne Vixens players is an assistant coach with the team, so it’s great to have a high-profile player like that mentoring them,” she said.
“In the other years she has played at the tournament, New South Wales has been too strong and we haven’t won, but I think they’ll bring home the gold medal this year.”