We caught up with Elite Netball Academy Ambassador, NSW Swifts and England Roses player Natalie Haythornthwaite to find out what it’s like to play in Australia in the Suncorp Super League. Read on to find out what it’s like to live and train Downunder, how she keeps in touch with family and how it differs from her time in the Vitality Netball Superleague. Over to you Natalie…
The netball day
When we have training, this is what a typical day looks like:
6 am – wake up
6.30 am – breakfast
7 am – leave for training
7.30 am – physio checks
8 am – prehab
8.30 – 10.30 am – court
10.30 – 11 am – refuel
11 – 12.30 pm – gym
12.30 – 1 pm – recovery
1 – 2 pm – personal admin / shooting / meetings / lunch
Then finally hometime!
Learning about the opposition
In my free time in the afternoons, I will try and watch some videos (of the opposition we are likely to play against in the next match or the last game we played against them). I will try to get to a post and practice shooting if I haven’t had the chance to at training.
I’ll often go for walks, do appearances for my Club, coach athletes back in the UK virtually with Elite Netball Academy as well as a bit of shadowing work with my teammate and watching her in the field of speech and language therapy. I have started watching The OC (recommended by my teammates – so I also like to watch that too at the moment!).
Training in Australia compared to the UK
I think the main difference between playing netball in the VNSL in the UK and the Suncorp Super League (SSL) out here is the contact time players have in clubs. We are full time in Australia, so it’s classed as a full-time job out here. We are in almost every day for a good period of the day, we do court work together and every gym and conditioning session is done together. Whereas back home when I was in VNSL (it could be different now) we trained early in the morning, then people would go to work or university throughout the day and then we would train again in the evening.
What it’s like to live abroad
Australia is a beautiful place, which I’ve been fortunate enough to explore a little, however, there’s still so much I’d love to see! I do miss my family at times (I go a good eight to nine months without seeing them). I’ve been away from my fiancé now since 2018, I compete in the season out here, then usually return to the UK and compete with England in the international season. So I’m very fortunate to have such a supportive family and live in such a beautiful part of the world. It was always a big dream of mine to try and compete in the league out here. I have a very supportive network back home encouraging me to do my best and make the most of the opportunity I have been given
Keeping in touch
I try and speak to family most days, they are AMAZING as they get up at 4 am / 6 am every weekend to watch us play and I just am so lucky to have such an incredible family. I reckon mum would talk to me all day every day if she could, but I think that would result in two very tired people! My little sister is a huge fan of netball and gives me feedback after each game – as well as sending me cute videos of her puppy, Toby. My fiancé Josh will call me every day too, I try to be free between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm as that’s when he drives to work so we will normally chat over the phone where possible! He’s been an incredible support and all of them were wanting to come out here at some point however with Covid still very present, nobody’s been able to come over since 2019.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my life playing netball here in Australia, you can follow my journey on my Instagram page.
Until next time, Natalie xx