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Northern Rivers netball royalty in Queen's Baton Relay

QUEEN'S BATON: Northern Rivers netball royalty, Shirley O'Brien who helped found Ballina Netball in the 70s, said she's honoured be selected at the 99th person to carry the baton ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Ms O'Brien has coached netball for over 50 years.
QUEEN'S BATON: Northern Rivers netball royalty, Shirley O'Brien who helped found Ballina Netball in the 70s, said she's honoured be selected at the 99th person to carry the baton ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Ms O'Brien has coached netball for over 50 years. Supplied

NORTHERN Rivers netball doyen Shirley O'Brien said she is honoured to have been chosen for the Queen's Baton Relay ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

At 80-years young, Ms O'Brien who is considered netball royalty by the region's sporting community, was modest about her successful nomination by said she was surprised and delighted to learn she had been selected.

"I am thrilled and honoured," she said.

"I would love to have run through Ballina but I'm happy to be runner 99 on the Gold Coast."

Suzie Melchior who nominated Ms O'Brien for the honour, said Ballina Netball would have a "bus load of supporters there to wave Shirley on."

In 2017 Ballina named Ms O'Brien as their Australia Day Sportsperson the Year.

Born in Nimbin, Ms O'Brien is a former representative hockey and softball player and her involvement with netball began when her two daughters started playing.

He first coaching role was at Eastwood Ryde in Sydney before she moved back to the North Coast with her young family and the journey with Ballina Netball began.

"I had six children and my two daughters played," she said.

"When they grew up I stayed with netball."

Over the past half-century, Ms O'Brien has coached generations of netball athletes with great success, including some who have gone on to play in the national league and others who have become coaches themselves.

Now Ms O'Brien's next sporting achievement is training for her part of the QBR.

She said there's no problem about what to where as a uniform will be supplied.

"I don't know the exact route, I'll find out in December," she said.

"They have sent me some information about the training we need to do and how heavy the baton is so we can practise."

It's a change for the woman who prefers to stay behind the scenes.

"I've enjoyed every minute of coaching netball and I have no plans to step away," she said with a smile.

Topics:  2018 commonwealth games netball northern rivers sport queen's baton relay



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