Netball superstar and former Little Athlete Kimberlee Green announced her retirement from professional sport in August, playing her final match for the Giants last weekend.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist represented Australia 74 times and was a central member of Australia’s 2011 World Netball Championship-winning squad.
With 212 elite caps, Green was announced inaugural captain of the Giants netball team in 2017, leading them to a minor premiership in 2018.
Green excelled in athletics as a teen, representing New South Wales during the 1997 Trans Tasman tour and twice at the Australian Little Athletics Championships, in 1999 and 2001.
The St George LAC athlete placed first in both the U13 100m and 200m events at the 1999 State Track & Field Championships, earning her a spot in the NSW State team that travelled to Canberra.
At the 2001 State Multi-Event Championships in Metford, Green dominated the U15 division, setting an all-time LANSW record that wasn’t broken until 2009.
Green then proceeded to win gold at the ALAC Multi-Event in Melbourne, where she trumped fellow competitor and future Olympian Sally Pearson.
Despite her incredible achievements on the track, these feats are but a waning memory for the celebrated athlete.
“That was so long ago, I was just a baby,” said Green.
“Athletics was my main focus; netball came second to athletics.
“Every Friday night, I just remember thinking ‘I’m going to go hang out with my mates,’ but also do a little bit of exercise and run around and have a bit of fun.”
The 33-year-old credited athletics for teaching her the fundamentals of sport and teamwork from an early age.
“I have a lot to thank athletics for,” said Green.
“It’s a solid foundation to start in a place like Little Athletics; you learn how to get the best out of yourself,” said Green.
“There’s no way I’d have the power or the speed or the ability to do what I do without the foundations that both Little Athletics and [my coach] gave to me.
“You’re in a great, inclusive community that feels like a team, and it’s not often you get that in an individual sport.”
Green had difficulty adjusting to Seniors after completing Little Athletics at age 15 – the lack of camaraderie is what spurred a shift in focus towards netball.
“Once you go out of Little Athletics, it takes a little bit of a different turn,” said Green.
“It completely changes when you go into the adult side of things, and it doesn’t have that community sense.
“I was a 15-year-old running against 30-year-olds.
“It was just lonely after I felt like I was part of a family for so long… that’s the one thing that kept me from pursuing athletics.”
The Giants drew the short straw in the 2019 Super Netball tournament, finishing fifth on the ladder and narrowly missing a spot in the finals through net rate.
“We had a little bit of a slow start to the season and that in the end kind of cost us,” said Green.
“It was a disappointing end, but all-in-all we had a really good year in terms of our performances, but also just enjoying each other’s company, which is really important too.
“Sport can be very brutal at times, but it gives so much too.”
Netball has been one of the leading women’s sports in Australia for decades, and Green feels privileged to have contributed to that legacy.
“Although we’re reaping some awards now, it’s all from the hard work of the people who played before me, putting their jobs on the line to make sure that we could continue to push this professional, elite looking system,” said Green.
“We’ve been able to pave the way for other sports, but we’ve also just got women that don’t rest on that.
“We’ve got women that are so passionate, and they just want the best for our sport.
“I think a lot of sports could have a really great look at how we’ve been able to develop athletes, but also businesswomen on the side.”
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At the age of 16, never did I ever imagine I would be given an opportunity of a lifetime. I remember the first Swifts session I attended. I was well out of my depth, but Julie saw something special and decided to contract me that week. I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity, one I thought I would perhaps only be a part of for a short time. I was fortunate to be signed up the following year and the rest is history. 17 seasons later, 4 domestic premierships, many Grandfinal series, 2 Commonwealth Games, 2 World Cup Golds and have been a part of 2 clubs and one organisation my whole career- something I’m very proud of. Netball has helped shape me into the athlete, person and leader I am today, and I am beyond grateful for the experience. I would like to thank Netball NSW in supporting me throughout my career. A huge thank you to Julie, Norma, Lisa and coaches that seen potential in me and have developed me as a player and also as a leader. To my sponsors and partners who have supported me throughout my career. To my teammates who are like family to me now To the members and fans who make playing netball the best job in the world I can’t thank you all enough. To my amazing family and friends- you all have made my career what it is today. They say as athletes we make sacrifices to be where we are. I don’t call them sacrifices, I call them choices. For all of you, it is a sacrifice, and I can’t thank you enough for making them for me. You will never know how much you all mean to me and I look forward to spending all my downtime showing you. Thank you for all of your support and kind words today, this is why we have the best sport in the world. Now it’s time to give back to the sport that has given so much to me. I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay Netball, but I will give it my best shot. See you soon! Kimmy G x
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Retirement doesn’t mean the work stops for Green. With her business partner Sarah Wall, she hopes to expand her smartphone app NetFit Netball, designed to help young girls develop their training habits and routines.
“Women in sport is definitely something that I’m so passionate about – leadership and mentoring young athletes is something that I’m really passionate about,” said Green.
“It’s honestly the best job in the world being an elite athlete – netball has given me so much, and I’m grateful.”
Photos: Getty Images, Little Athletics NSW
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