The world stage is a familiar court for Sydney-raised Paige Hadley, who is part of the Diamonds for her second Netball World Cup appearance, this time, all the way in England.
However, for 26-year-old Hadley, her journey to the top has come with a few bruises and some time on the sidelines.
“I grew up in Sydney, playing netball when I was seven, in Penrith,” she said.
“My journey has been up and down, then playing for NSW and the Swifts. I then debuted for the [Australian] Diamonds in 2013.”
But at her young prime, Hadley was struck-down with a horror ACL injury, that revolutionised her outlook on the game she loves.
“My ACL journey was pretty special, I think. It was one of the best things to happen to me,” she said.
“It made me realise how much I love the game. It’s a blessing in disguise,” said Hadley.
After a year on the side, Hadley was back playing for the NSW Swifts, when she got and an unexpected call-up for imminent World Cup.
“I got a phone call the day after we [NSW Swifts] lost the Grand Final to the Firebirds,” she said.
No words can describe how I'm actually feeling right about now. What an incredible journey it's been to get here. I'm beyond excited and grateful to named amongst 12 strong athletes to represent my country at the 2019 Netball World Cup. A massive THANK YOU to my family, support crew and of course my @nswswifts army for challenging and most importantly believing in me - without you this wouldn't have been possible. Let the hard work continue 💎💪🏼🌟 #sisters
Hadley, who had not trained with the World Cup Diamonds squad that year, was in total shock at the opportunity to play on the big stage.
“I remember going- ‘What the hell- are you serious? I’m going to the World Cup?” Hadley said.
For the team as a whole, the World Cup win of 2015 was a moment that sends shivers down anyone’s spine.
“Having 16,000 members watching on, up out of our seats- just incredible, very special,” Hadley said.
And now, the Diamonds are looking to do it all again, this time, when they travel to England for the 2019 Netball World Cup and Hadley’s got some new feelings as she competes again.
“The first year [2015 World Cup] wasn’t a fluke, I worked hard, but it was like ‘how the hell did I get here?’,” she said.
“Now, I’m four years older and I realise that these opportunities do not come every day.
“I really want to be an integral member to produce on-court success.”
But it’s the preparation back home that really unites the side on the road to the Cup.
“We’ve had nine weeks of Suncorp Netball, so all playing a part. Now we are at Camp in Sydney.”
“Wednesday, we fly to Manchester for a six-day camp then to Liverpool where all the fun begins!
“It’s important to get the mind-sets early. We don’t have a lot of time together.” Hadley said.
But, the Diamonds have no doubt that they’ll be a serious force to be reckoned with when the World Cup rolls around.
“We’re world number one for a reason. We have high expectations to do the job.”
The Diamonds will be heading to England with the hope to become back-to-back champions, after their impressive win in the 2015 World Cup in Australia.
The Netball World Cup 2019 will take place over 20 thrilling sessions of netball from July 12-21 in Liverpool.
Follow the Diamonds action by clicking this link: https://www.nwc2019.co.uk/schedule/