Netball: Townsville born shooter set for triumphant homecoming after homesickness battle

Cara Koenen remembers making tearful phone calls to family in Townsville after moving to Brisbane to chase her netball dreams.

Now the Sunshine Coast goaler is preparing for a successful north Queensland homecoming as a breakout star in the running for a spot in the Diamonds squad.

It’s a situation that seemed unimaginable just a few years ago when Koenen was a homesick teenager who moved to Brisbane, with her older sister Breanna, a Brisbane Lions AFLW player, from their home on Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville six years ago to
chase their sporting goals.

But it wasn’t plain sailing for the 190cm shooter, who struggled to balance the demands of university study and elite sport while missing her other two siblings and parents at home.

“I definitely went through some really tough times,” said Koenen, who will head back to Townsville this week for the Lightning’s clash against the Collingwood Magpies as the Super Netball caravan rolls into
north Queensland.

“Having my sister there was great but pretty early on I was missing family and my other siblings pretty severely, so it was difficult and there were definitely times where I would finish up training and
be on the phone an absolute wreck in tears to my mum going: ‘I just want to come home, I want to get out of here’.

“I wasn’t making any money, so I wasn’t able to pay my rent and I had to maintain a full-time study load to be eligible for government subsidy.

“I was trying to balance really pushing my training commitments and netball and trying to dedicate as much time as I possibly could to that while also trying to maintain good grades at uni and still set myself up for a career if things weren’t to work out (with netball).”

Koenen admits the stress took a toll and if she could reach out to her 17-year-old self, she’d tell her to give herself a break and reassure her the struggles would “absolutely” be worthwhile.

“I would say to her to look after herself a bit better and say it’s okay to have those bad days but also to lean on whoever I needed to lean on at the time,” she said.

“There’s that whole stigma around mental health (but) it’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it and when things weren’t going well, I think I probably needed to do that much earlier than I

“But I think looking back now, I’m so glad I stuck with it and I’m so glad I had to make the sacrifices I did because I’m pretty happy at the moment, things are going well.”

Koenen would go on to win a place in the Lightning’s inaugural squad and learnt plenty from their early
premiership-winning campaigns as back-up to current Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett.

And while she wasn’t able to make the goal shooter spot her own last season despite Bassett’s departure to the Giants, the now 24-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, averaging almost 32 goals
per game at 88 per cent accuracy against some of the best defenders in the world.

Returning to north Queensland this week, Koenen hopes she can spark the dreams of young girls in the crowd, whose journey to the elite level she hopes will be smoother than her own.

“I was never able to get the opportunity to go and watch such an elite level of netball, I was seeing it through a TV screen, so to be able to watch the product live, it’s fantastic,” she said.

“I’m really excited to hopefully ignite that fire in some of the young girls and decrease the amount of drop-off that we have in participation for regional athletes to show that it’s worth the sacrifice.

“It might be a bit of a more difficult and bumpy road than it is (in the metropolitan areas) but … there is so much talent in regional areas of Queensland, so I think it’s fantastic that we’re able to get
out there and show some female sport.”

The Lightning take on the Firebirds at the University of Sunshine Coast on Sunday before heading to Townsville for Wednesday’s opening Round 13 match.

The remaining three games of the round will be played in Cairns next weekend.

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Trump the Triumphant

Fortunate adequate to be among the the 6,000 at Trump’s Tulsa rally triumph, an IA group member recorded highlights.

I WANT my legacy to be that of a President who remedied many, quite a few diseases – including the Chinese virus COVID-19 –which have killed thousands and thousands of our individuals around the a long time. Not only that, but I want to dramatically carry down our crime amount and make The united states the healthiest and safest country on this world in which to dwell your everyday living.

I pointed out I have instructed our medicos to very seriously curtail, truncate, nobble, minimise – use whichever expression you favor – our COVID-19 Chinese virus screening. Henceforth, to qualify to be tested for this virus, you will have to response a 19-site questionnaire, mainly because it is COVID-19. Nineteen. A beautiful range. The previous year of your life as a teen. And I just appreciate young adults. This questionnaire will be composed in Chinese simply because we ought to never ignore it is a Chinese virus.

How attractive is that?!

I won’t claim credit rating for coming up with the 19-page questionnaire prepared in Chinese plan, even if I had, which I did, since I’m not somebody to blow his have trumpet, but there has under no circumstances been a much better president of The united states than me. Not that I would at any time say that. While I just did.

Your questionnaire application to go through a COVID-19 Chinese virus examination must be witnessed and signed by two mask-sporting people, who remain, at all periods, vigilant in their adherence to social distancing. I take no credit history for this previous little bit. Midget medico Fauci arrived up with that notion. Intellect you, if you have been stuck with a Fauci experience you’d be eager on owning to don a mask. Fucked Facial area Fauci I’d call him if I was a unpleasant, lousy human being, but I’m not. If I wasn’t me and I met me, I’d say Donald J Trump is a attractive, extremely excellent particular person, and a fantastic gentleman. Tomorrow, I signal an government purchase imposing the new situations to endure a virus examination. COVID-19 new scenarios will drop away to zero within just a subject of weeks.

This virus is not the only plague killing my fellow Us residents at the level of knots. Prostate, breast and bowel most cancers have been wreaking havoc for a long time. As of tomorrow, due to another government order – and if I may possibly estimate my quite, extremely, superior Australian pal and colleague, their Prime Minister Morrison – “How good is” my signature, Donald J Trump, on all of these govt orders I indicator?!

Really great! Much better than any other president’s signature, but I’m too humble to at any time issue that out. Perfectly, as from tomorrow, all tests for prostate, breast and bowel most cancers will stop. Inside months America’s death fee from these insidious diseases will plummet to zero, numero nuno, zip, nought, practically nothing.

I will be gobsmacked, staggered and, quite frankly, fucking surprised if I don’t win the Nobel Prize for support to clinical advancement. The moment I obtain my Nobel Prize…and how good will it look in the Oval Business, following to my cup for successful the House Developer’s Stableford Golfing Award of 1986? I shall then indication an executive get banning all ECG, angiogram and tension testing, as well as the use of defibrillators, and no far more measuring of blood force or cholesterol levels.

No more fatalities from coronary heart assaults or strokes and only a couple of unique and scarce cancer fatalities. A spectacular legacy from a wonderful President — but I would under no circumstances be so self-centred to point out it.

I also intend to make American streets the safest to walk down anyplace in the globe. The usa will be the safest state in the world simply because of me.

I shall instruct all Federal and point out police departments to no more time collate any numbers registering unique crime premiums. Homicides, assaults, burglaries, extortion, kidnappings, forgery and so on. In months the homicide charge through the entirety of our United States will diminish to none, almost everywhere. No other American president can claim an achievement any place close to such a stupendous final result.

I simply cannot promise there won’t be bloodied bodies uncovered lying in the streets, vehicles or domiciles, but they’ll be registered as loss of life by purely natural will cause, or previous age, or additional likely, as pretend news developed by people lousy journalists at CNN, hell-bent on destroying my re-election possibilities.

I do not want any individuals to delude on their own that, inspite of our quickly to be plummeting crime level. I am smooth on regulation and purchase. I am at this time negotiating with our Federal lawmakers and legislators to introduce the death penalty for CNN journalist purveyors of fake news. To me, they are genuinely negative people. Terrorists, in simple fact. War criminals. A lifelong eating plan of bread and water is too good for them. Place them up in opposition to the Mexican wall and shoot them.

Thank you for staying right here currently. If I was not me I would want to be listed here to see President Trump – our biggest President ever – and I do understand you all appreciate me. Now, I am off to fulfill my quite excellent pal Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil. We’re heading to check out Novak Djokovic engage in tennis, then lunch. Jair and I are each big McDonald’s fans. In actuality, I’ve been lobbying to have the Golden Arches put atop the White Home, but people enjoyable law enforcement in the Democrats won’t allow for it. I even made available to have the Golden Arches painted white, in retaining with the relaxation of the façade, but they wouldn’t budge.

Just wait around till I’m re-elected!

Rocky Dabscheck is a musician/songwriter and front human being for Rocky and The Two Bob Millionaires. He is also the author of ‘42+1: The (Actual) Which means of Life’ and Stoney Broke and the Hello-Spenders‘.

Guidance independent journalism Subscribe to IA.


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A-League could be pushed off screen on its return as AFL and NRL make triumphant comebacks after coronavirus shutdown

As restrictions are lifted, we are finding it is not the fears and apprehensions experienced during shutdown that will inform our futures, but the real changes that become apparent as we emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons.

At the height of the Great Toilet Paper Wars, it was predicted the AFL and NRL would be so greatly diminished by financial deprivation they would struggle to fund five-a-side games in local parks.

Collingwood’s ubiquitous president, Eddie McGuire, said the AFL “will never be the same again” and Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Pugnacious Pete V’landys rushed to extinguish a raging dumpster fire.

We should not underestimate the plight of those who have lost their jobs or been stood down as both leagues adjusted to reduced revenue, while oddities such as empty stadiums and the postponement of the Bulldogs-Roosters NRL match due to a COVID-19 scare are enduring reminders of changed times.

Yet for all the doomsaying and some on-field tweaking, Australia’s predominant football leagues looked remarkably like their old selves at the weekend in both the way they were played and — just as significantly — the enormous TV audiences they attracted.

An estimated 1,617,000 watched the Collingwood-Richmond match last Thursday night (at the same time more than 600,000 were viewing an NRL fixture), while 1,353,000 witnessed the return of the NRL two weeks earlier.

There is some squabbling about which code sacrificed more while renegotiating and extending media rights deals to fortify their immediate futures.

But as Pugnacious Pete talked about purchasing a private jet for his supposedly cash-strapped competition, it seemed apparent the heightened level of concern for the AFL and NRL had not been due to any real fear they could go under, but because they had more to lose than other sports.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Devon Smith bump fists in celebration
The return of the AFL was met by bumper TV viewing figures.(AAP: Mark Evans)

The real fear for the ecumenical Australian sports fan is that the continued prosperity of the AFL and NRL will come at the expense of others — or, more accurately, will come at the even greater expense of others.

The domestic footy giants have been the beneficiaries of a long-term trend whereby their mainstream media coverage has become exhaustive — and in some cases exhausting — as other sports struggled for the little space left on news sites or the airwaves because of dwindling advertising revenue.

The growth of AFL and NRL coverage has been a chicken and egg dilemma: Did TV networks and major news sites pump up coverage of the most popular codes to cater for reader/viewer demand? Or did this increased exposure exaggerate their popularity?

Either way, the COVID-19 shutdown has accelerated the trend. With advertising down and newsrooms shredded, staff covering sports considered less commercially viable have been the first to go.

Football may fight for coverage

During an era when we were supposed to have been enjoying the benefits of the past heroics of the Socceroos and the enormous feats of the Matildas, the mainstream media coverage of Australian football is suddenly endangered.

On Monday, Nine reported a conspiracy theory that has buzzed around sports media circles in recent weeks — that News Corp was culling football reporters in preparation for a not particularly amicable divorce from the A-League.

Fox Sports has already shed a large number of football production staff. This development, according to some insiders, was a sign the pay-per-view provider was preparing to abandon the final three years of its A-League contract.

The broadcaster’s recent deal with Rugby Australia was seen as another dark portent for football, with some insiders claiming rugby union had been chosen ahead of — and possibly instead of — the round ball game.

That the A-League’s return-to-play announcement came without a renegotiated deal with Fox Sports will raise concerns further, although the AFL and NRL did not announce their new contracts until the day of their resumptions.

Regardless of how the A-League/Fox Sports deadlock plays out, football has become just the latest victim of the rapidly dwindling mainstream coverage of sports other than the all-conquering AFL and NRL.

This inevitably accentuates the already vast commercial advantage enjoyed by the biggest codes rather than providing even the pretence of a merits-based appreciation of the achievements of Australian athletes in a still incredible broad spectrum of sports.

A Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player dribbles the ball next to a Melbourne City opponent.
Football in Australia may face diminished media coverage in the immediate future.(AAP: Rob Prezioso)

The obvious problem for once prominent and so-called “minor sports” is that attempts to run events and gain sponsors are increasingly difficult, even futile without decent media coverage.

In turn, revenue for grassroots programs dwindles, leaving only the good grace of volunteers and government grants to fund the production of their next wave of participants.

That is unless, like tennis, you have the one-off benefit of the Australian Open, which has been largely subsidised by the Victorian Government desperate to fill hotels and restaurants with another “major event”.

Cricket occupies a different ecosystem than most other Australian sports with its dependence on international tours.

In that regard, Cricket Australia’s pessimistic financial forecasts will rise and fall on the intent of the Indian tourists and broadcasters rather than the column inches devoted to games in local papers.

For fans of sport other than AFL and NRL, there are excellent and in some cases superior alternatives to the coverage of sport in mainstream media on specialist websites and podcasts, while a benefit of lockdown is that we technologically-challenged types have discovered streaming services are not that hard to access after all.

But while we entered shutdown wondering if the AFL and NRL would be diminished, inevitably it seems sports that once enjoyed at least reasonable prominence will have an even greater struggle to emerge from their vast shadows.

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