Australian Diamonds netballer Madi Robinson on the perfect game. By Richard Cooke.


Winging it: Madi Robinson, 27, netballer

I am always chasing that perfect game. I think every elite athlete is, if you ask them. You’re always searching to have that moment when you’re in the zone; like you’re in your own bubble. And I know for me those matches are the ones that I probably love the most. When I’m on the court, the whole crowd is kind of a blur. It’s just you at that moment with your teammates on court. Everything kind of slows down, everything’s calm, and you execute the perfect pass.

On the wings we sometimes get a little bit forgotten. It’s not one of those glory positions, but we know that our role on court is hugely important. I’m more than happy to play that role in the background. Just do what I need to do for the team.

I used to be the tall one on the team. When I was a junior [and played shooter] I probably was the height I am now. I was quite tall compared to other people, and I could compete with some of the taller players, no problems. When I actually first went to Melbourne for a state trial, when I was about 15 or 16, I remember getting there and saying to my mum, “I’m so short here – I don’t think I should shoot here, Mum.” She said, “Well, what the hell are you going to play, you don’t play anywhere else?” And I said, “Maybe I’ll just try wing attack and centre; I can give it a go.” So I trialled there, made the team and I never looked back.

Obviously I still wish I did have that extra 30 centimetres. But I don’t see it as something that holds me back. It can be an advantage, because I know that the taller girls hate playing on someone who’s a little bit shorter. It’s annoying having to chase this little kind of mosquito running around.

My nan got annoyed when I changed my name [from Browne to Robinson]. Obviously she’s on the Browne side. At the pre-season competition at the start of last year in Melbourne, we were getting married the next week, and they started selling Madi Robinson badges. And she went up to them and said, “You can’t sell them that yet! She’s not a Robinson yet! She’s a Browne! Where are the Browne badges?”

My husband may have tried on my netball dress.
I think he was obviously delighted the second I brought the Robinson dress home. As they say, you play for the emblem on the front, which is the Vixen logo, or the coat of arms for Australia. But
I think for him it was nice to see his family name on the back of my dress. I did one time come home and see the dress out on the bed. I think he wanted to see what the name looked like on the back. Either that or I’ve got some soul-searching to do with his sexuality, I don’t know.

I’m also a qualified primary school teacher. I do do a little bit of relief teaching here and there but at the moment I’m just actually enjoying being an athlete and getting out there and doing some appearances and clinics. I know that sport can change very quickly, sometimes when you least expect it, and I guess for me I just want to enjoy the moment and cherish it while it’s here and while I can.

The most wonderful thing about being an elite athlete? Exposure to some incredible opportunities. Whether it’s in the media, or starting up your own business, or creating a network and being inspired by a lot of people you get to meet along your journey. So I’m excited to see where it takes me. I’m not too sure, but watch this space. I don’t want to hang up the boots just yet. Hopefully I’ve got a few more years in me to come.

I am a huge believer that things happen for a reason. The heartache or rejection or disappointment a few years ago made me be the player and be the person I am today. I think it’s important to just make the most of opportunity and live in the moment. I think too many kids are thinking, “I want to do this”, “I’ve got to do this and that and all of those things”. Just enjoy what you do and love what you do at this point in time. Things can change so quickly, so you’ve just got to make the most of it while it lasts.


1 . This week's highlights...

• Cricket: ICC World Cup

Australia v Bangladesh

Today, 2.30pm AEDT, Gabba, Brisbane

• Horseracing

Black Caviar Lightning Day

Today, 12.55pm (first race), Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Blackwoods Silver Slipper Day

Today, 1.05pm (first race), Rosehill Gardens, Sydney

• Rugby league: 2015 World Club Challenge

St Helens Saints v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Tomorrow, 7pm (GMT), Langtree Park, Merseyside (Britain)

• AFL: 2015 NAB Challenge

Hawthorn v Collingwood

Thursday, 7.10pm, Aurora Stadium, Launceston, Tasmania

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 21, 2015 as "Winging it".

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Richard Cooke is a contributing editor to The Monthly, and the 2018 Mumbrella Publish Award Columnist of the Year.

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