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Silver Ferns on friendship and motherhood

Now married with children, these netball legends have a new game plan.

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Between them, they have 14 children, five husbands and multiple businesses – and they were all part of the Silver Ferns team that won gold at the World Netball Championships in 2003.

But although it’s been 11 years since Anna Stanley, Tania Dalton, Belinda Colling, Temepara Bailey and Adine Wilson helped New Zealand take out the title, it’s almost as if nothing has changed – apart from the fact that they’re now all mums.

Together for the first time in years, the group, who are all now netball commentators for Sky Sport, gossip and giggle as if no time has passed.

“It’s funny, we don’t see each other for years, but you can pick up the conversation like it was yesterday,” says Belinda (38). “We’ve been through so many highs and lows together, we’ve got a bond that will always be there.”

 From left: While Belinda’s still a Colling, Temepara George, Tania Nicolson, Adine Harper and Anna Rowberry have all traded in their famous surnames.
From left: While Belinda’s still a Colling, Temepara George, Tania Nicolson, Adine Harper and Anna Rowberry have all traded in their famous surnames.

Although the topics of conversation are a little different than they were 11 years ago – “the gossip about who is going out with who and what bars we went to last weekend have been replaced with stories of immunisations, nappies and which schools are the best,” laughs Adine (34) – all five ladies agree that their friendship has never been stronger.

“We’ve watched each other have kids, we’ve been to each other’s weddings. So it’s a special friendship,” explains Anna (38).

“When we all started having kids, we were all on the blower to each other, comparing notes,” she adds with a laugh. “It was all, ‘Oh my God, how do you do this? What’s happening here?’

We all had kids around the same time, apart from Bubby [Temepara], who started breeding a little earlier.”

“And I keep forgetting the others are mums now!” exclaims Temepara (38).

“My kids are 20 and 16. I had them when I was playing and back then I was the only one. Time management was definitely crucial!”

As the group sits around and reminisces about “the old days”, as Tania (42) calls them, they can’t quite believe they’re all married with families – a far cry from when they first met as five young women hoping to one day don the little black dress.

 The Silver Ferns celebrate their victory at the 2003 World Netball Champs.
The Silver Ferns celebrate their victory at the 2003 World Netball Champs.

“I do remember one night after the World Champs in 2003 when some of us got in a little bit of trouble,” says Adine with a sly grin.

“We were celebrating the win, and two of us were dancing on the tables in a bar. We got kicked out. The story made the front page of the paper!

“We were in so much trouble and it was such a massive scandal – the paper never named the two table dancers, so there was all this speculation flying around... but it wasn’t necessarily me!”

“Yeah, my mum rang me up and said, ‘Now that wouldn’t have been you, right?’” adds Tania. “I said, ‘No, no.’”

“Anyway, it was two out of us five. You can guess who it was!” teases Adine.

 Some of the Auckland-based girls played social netball, until other teams threatened to beat them up because they were too good.
Some of the Auckland-based girls played social netball, until other teams threatened to beat them up because they were too good.

Although their professional playing days are over – apart from Temepara’s two-week stint with the Mystics earlier this year – “a temporary thing, trust me!” – some of the Auckland-based girls were getting together to play social netball, until other teams threatened to beat them up because they were too good.

“It was more aggressive than the international games!” exclaims Anna. “But we did win it for a few years running.”

“I call us the ‘Has-beens’,” Tania laughs. “We just turned up five minutes before the game and played. The recovery was a bit different. Instead of ice baths, it was anti-inflammatory cream and a glass of wine.”

But despite the fact all five former Ferns miss taking the court and pulling on the national colours, their roles as mothers more than make up for the longing to play.

“I also don’t know how the bodies would cope,” Belinda quips.

“I miss the social stuff quite a bit,” Adine says. “But that’s why it’s so nice to catch up when we do.

“Oh, my goodness, I’ve just had a thought – in a few years, we’ll be sitting on the side line asking, ‘So, how are the grandkids?’ That’s going to be us. Hopefully that’s a long way away!”

ARTICLE BY:
The Australian Women's Weekly
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