At the start of 2012, Bailey Mes was at home with her parents, dreaming of a career in netball and spending hours sitting on the Northern Mystics’ reserves’ bench. Fast forward six months and the 23-year-old hotshot has not only got herself off the bench, she’s also been in the starting line-up for the Silver Ferns.
Although a Ferns debut would be a dream come true for many players, for self-confessed “nervous wreck” Bailey it didn’t all go according to plan. Bailey admits her international debut against South Africa was not her finest 30 minutes of netball as nerves took over. But the determined Aucklander says she’s not letting her critics get to her, and believes she can produce great performances for the rest of the Quad Series in her new position of wing attack.
“It wasn’t as pretty as I’d hoped,” says the former shooter, who describes her first outing as a Fern as a “horror half”. “But I’m trying to get better every time I get out there. “I’m notorious for not backing myself, but I think I can now. This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have something to offer.”
Being elevated so quickly through the ranks of professional netball has left Bailey’s teammates, coaches and the public dumbfounded. But no-one was more shocked than Bailey herself. “When Wai [Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu] rang and told me, I just burst into tears. It was so overwhelming. I never expected to get a trial, let alone make the team.”
Being selected for the Ferns has given Bailey a much-needed injection of self-confidence after spending three years on the Mystics’ bench. “I’m a really nervous person by nature. Not playing for so long was hard, but I learned heaps. You just have to believe if you’ve got the goods, you’re eventually going to get there. “Going into the Ferns, I knew I had nothing to lose.”
Fortunately for Bailey, she’s had the support of the entire Silver Ferns squad, including from the “mum” of the team, Irene van Dyk. “She’s incredible, she gives great advice,” grins Bailey. Bailey’s had to put her health science studies and her job in the sports department at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School on hold; right now, her goal is to be the best netball player she can be and prove her detractors wrong.
“I know people will be asking questions of me when I’m playing, but that’s okay. “Everyone has their opinion, but there’s no point in letting it get to me. I’m really happy right now.”