Dad and daughter prove to be a winning combination
NETBALL: Rockhampton father and daughter Philip and Keanna Hopkins have played a key role in the Australian Indigenous Deadlys victory in the Challenge of the Nations netball championships.
Philip was coach of the open competitive team in which Keanna played goal defence. The team went through the round games and the semis undefeated and was awarded the championship on countback when the grand final against New Zealand was rained out.
"As the coach I was lucky enough to have nine ladies who had heaps of talent and they complemented each other both on and off the court," Philip said. "The Deadlys had height at both ends with speed to burn in the centre."
Keanna agreed, saying: "They were a great bunch of girls who were really talented. We had a strong side and it was such a good experience."
Fellow CQ netballers Carmen Anderson and Pearl Hood also took part in the championships, which involved teams from the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Niue, Tokelau, Solomon Islands, PNG, Maori and Kiribati.
They played in the Australian Indigenous Masters team, Whichways, which finished as runners-up in its division.
Keanna said that despite the games being shortened, it was physically demanding with the teams having to play in exceptionally hot conditions in Brisbane.
The Deadlys' defence proved the difference, restricting most teams to an average of four goals a game.
"We were undefeated throughout the tournament and even though some of the games felt like they were really tough, we did it pretty convincingly," Keanna said.
"The other teams really seemed to struggle against our defence. Only 15 goals were scored against us from six games."
Keanna, who was part of the championships last year, said it was much more than just a sporting event with the opening ceremony.
"They do an opening ceremony where all the different cultures are showcased. It was amazing to be a part of that," she said. "It's really a celebration of sport and culture."
Keanna said it was nice to have her dad playing such an integral part in the victory and in her ongoing netball success.
"He loves the sport. Like me, he's very passionate about it," she said.
After a two-year absence, Keanna is set to return to the ranks of the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capricorn Claws -and she can't wait.
"I thought I wouldn't go back but I love playing at a higher level so I decided to come back," she said.
"I love pushing myself to a level I know I can be at. I just love the thrill of getting a really good intercept, pushing the limits, being competitive.
"But it's also the family and friends that you bond with over the sport you love. I could go anywhere in eastern Queensland and I would know someone who's involved in netball. And the Claws is very much a family and all the girls have a really special bond."