Valley girls just want to have fun

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Attackers and midcourters get the spotlight in netball – but what about the ones doing all the work at the back? Briar Wilson dons the GK bib for Valley Gold as it attempts to win a third straight North Otago premier club title on Saturday. Hayden Meikle talks to the defender.

Q: How old are you, Briar?
I’m 26.

Q: What’s your background? Are you from North Otago originally?
I was born in Oamaru but we moved to Christchurch when I was 5. I was there until halfway through high school, so I came back to Waitaki Girls’ in fifth form. Then I went to Dunedin to study for a bachelor of commerce degree.

Q: How long have you been back here?
Four years.

Q: What do you do for a crust?
I’m the office manager at Topflite. We sell bird feed and small animal feed. We’re a wholesaler for pet shops and all sorts of stores around New Zealand.
It’s a really growing business, and can get pretty crazy at times. One of the things that has started to go nuts is the wild bird feed.
It’s a really cool job. You meet lots of different people.

Q: How long have you played netball for Valley?
This is my second year. I played for Waitaki Girls’ senior A but then I stopped playing netball when I was in Dunedin. When I came back, I played a bit for Rovers. Then I played for Excelsior for a couple of years. We won a title in 2013. Then everyone got pregnant, ha ha. I was pretty much the only one left. So I decided to play for Valley. I had a bit of a decision to make this year when Excelsior came back into it. I just felt I could build more as a player with Valley.

Q: What do you like most about the Valley club?
It’s just an awesome group of girls. Everyone’s fun and wants to do well. We’ve got a lot of rural girls, and a huge range of ages. Our team this year is more about having fun, and playing for each other, and not really bothering about the pressure on us to do well.

Q: The Valley netballers have had a lot of success, but it’s been a bit of a lean run for the Valley premier rugby boys. Do you let them know which sport is top dog at the club?
Hah, no. We would never do that. The boys have been really good. We’ve had a few socials and they’re a good group. We’ve also been playing the rugby boys at netball. They’re actually pretty good.

Q: Circle defenders are often known for being a bit bossy. Do you tell the team-mates in front of you what they should be doing?
I do, yeah. I’ve got a lovely girl, Nicky Wallace, who can jump twice as high as any of us, so I do a lot of yelling and talking at her.
Playing goal keep, it is kind of my job to keep talking to the other guys as the ball is coming through the court. That’s an important part of netball. It’s a lot of fun. I actually played wing defence in high school but I got told I was too slow. I do enjoy playing goal keep but I’m a bit sick of playing against girls who are seven feet tall.

Q: Valley Gold has won every game this season, and the club is shooting for a third straight title. What would it mean to win the final this weekend?
It would be amazing. Wow. I’m not sure it’s been done before, so it would be really cool.
We might have a few girls retire so it would be an awesome way to finish.