Molly makes it to One Netball Marie Little Shield

When Molly Byrnes started playing in the inaugural All Abilities carnival in Darwin she didn’t know where that opportunity would take her but flash forward two years and everyone’s noticed how she’s grown.


Molly has an intellectual disability that involves selective mutism and extreme anxiety. Yet her time on and off the court has allowed her to feel more confident.


“Before this there were probably 5 people she had spoken in front of in her life” says mum Kath, “It’s been great to watch her slowly, slowly come out of her shell. Now she calls for the ball and supports the team from the sidelines!”


And it’s not only her local competition that Molly’s been involved in, for the second year in a row she’s representing the Northern Territory at the national One Netball Marie Little Shield.


Now in its 7th year, the competition is an elite pathway for the thousands of participants in All Abilities and No Limits programs across Australia.


It’s also a great opportunity for players to foster independence and develop a life outside of their families.


“It gives Molly the chance to gain more independence in her social activities as well as her confidence when being away from home. By going overstate without her mum being there, she has the opportunity to be herself in a way she wouldn’t if I was there” said Kath.


Given the degree of planning and costs involved in the process, it’s a fantastic opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. Both All Abilities and One Netball Marie Little Shield rely on the consistent work of volunteers.


There are the coaches and trainers, selectors who attend All Abilities games to pick Marie Little Shield teams, then the weeks of training, planning and financing. Expenses for one NT player are $2,802, times that by 10 and you’re looking at a hefty figure.


That’s why Confident Girls Foundation are supporting three teams this year in getting to the competition because the benefits are obvious for those families involved in the competition.


“It’s so much more than a game of netball” says Kath, “it’s a sense of belonging and inclusion and feeling important. I think for Molly being a part of a team has been the most amazing thing for her confidence and sense of independence. It’s been amazing to see her grow.”


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