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Gia Abernethy on life in Glasgow, family feels and growth of Vitality Netball Superleague

Aussie Abernethy has fed 288 goals and counting this season (image: Ben Lumley)

Glasgow is over 10,000 miles from Adelaide and slightly colder, but Strathclyde Sirens centre Gia Abernethy feels at home in Scotland’s second city after swapping hemispheres in 2018.

Abernethy joined Sirens from Adelaide Thunderbirds and wasn’t sure how long she’d stay in the Vitality Netball Superleague. That’s before she fell head over heels for the league and back in love with netball.

The 28-year-old took the plunge to move to the UK in 2018 and espoused the benefits of the move north.

“I definitely gave it a good crack and was involved in the Thunderbirds but just wanted that next step, that contracted spot, that court time, that starting seven, so I just had to look elsewhere,” said Abernethy.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be a year over here, get some good minutes, good court time, send it back to the coaches in Australia.

“But I just fell in love with the league over here and the people and the atmosphere that this side of the world had to offer. Four years later I’m still playing and loving it.

“It’s so lovely to see so many more players doing it because it’s definitely a solid career step.


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“Donnell Wallam came over for a season, wasn’t even a training partner back home and now she’s in the Diamonds squad so hopefully it’s making it more and more enticing and exciting.

“It’s almost just showing players that might be thinking about it that it’s really fun, it’s getting more and more professional, competition is getting more and more exciting, and this new deal with Sky is showcasing more talent back over there.

“Every season it’s more and more exciting, there are a few Aussies over here, few Kiwis which is great but I wish I could tell that age group that’s probably sitting around 21, 22 – by no means old in terms of netballers – but there’s only so far you can be a training partner so it’s exciting, it’s going to get you minutes and show the coaches how you perform under good contests,

“That’s so much better than training for three years, not getting on, and saying give me a chance when they haven’t actually seen you perform.”

Abernethy is now one of the most established Australians in the league and has lapped up the culture in both the league and her adopted home city.

“I’ve never been in a league where the home team has to provide a hot meal and both teams sit down and have a meal after the game, I think that’s great,” said Abernethy.

“Everyone’s friends with everyone, there’s almost a family feel to it, whereas in Australia you want to play for your home team and the closest team is an hour flight away, never mind five hours to get to Perth.”

“I really felt that everyone wanted everyone to do well regardless of what position you’re in so it made me fall in love with the game a bit more again because everyone was really enjoying their netball over here.

“The size of the city is quite comforting, Adelaide is not a huge city in Australia and not one that people tend to visit so there’s quite a sense of home knowing Glasgow is close-knit, a great community, and the locals are lovely humans.

“There’s such a heritage there that is great to get familiar with and I’m very happy being in Glasgow – once you get over the weather it’s quite a lovely city and there’s so much to discover.”

The Dear Green Place has been home for Abernethy for the past four years as she has plied her trade with Sirens, who have had a mixed 2022 season so far.

Sirens finished sixth last season and currently sit eighth this term, but Abernethy is enjoying being part of the project with the Scottish side and knows there is more to come.

“It’s come a long way – Sirens as a whole – from my first year here versus now,” said Abernethy.

“We’ve got Claire Nelson at the front, completely spearheading the way the franchise is growing and with the likes of Karen Atkinson as well it’s great to see growth between seasons.

“I think it would be pretty tricky to remain engaged and in love with it if we were standing still or going backwards.

“The first year I moved here we won three games the whole season which is hard but I saw that the people running the show had a greater vision and wanted more which is great because if you’ve got the vision you can follow quite easily.

“Last year was great for us, got a lot of confident players gelling within the team, great for team culture and seeing that growth.

“This year was always going to be tricky to back it up but I think that winning mindset that we still have – it’s great to see that that hasn’t gone.

“Yes we’d like to have more wins on the board, that’s for sure, but we’ve been so close, single-digit margins, for a lot of them but it just goes to show how great the league is and how competitive it is.

“Every single match, you really have to fight for it because it’s hard to get wins in this league, which is great – it’s what you want.”

Sirens picked up an impressive 60-44 win against Leeds Rhinos in Round 12 and narrowly lost to second-placed Loughborough Lightning by just six goals in Round 15 and Abernethy is targeting a strong end to the season.

“It’s definitely game on,” added the Sirens captain.

“We’ve got seven games to go and there are seven winnable matches.

“They’re all teams we beat or drew with last year, we know that last year was a different kettle of fish but we’re going to be going for as many points as we can, finish as high up the ladder as we can.

“It’s game on, we want to win, we want to get points and get our goal difference up as well.

“Consistency is obviously the key thing we need to work on – that showed this season that we don’t quite have that.

“Last year, I think teams probably didn’t give us much respect, didn’t really put us as a competitor, so we kind of got away with a bit, rode the momentum and went from there. Whereas they know we’re going to compete now, they’ve done their homework.

“We have the belief there, it’s probably just a few little tweaks to get that arrogance and that ego to be like no, we’re taking this on and we’re winning it which we definitely had last year.”

A strong end to the season for Sirens would be a further boon for Abernethy to go along with her fine individual performances so far this season, which sees her fourth in the league for feeds.

On the horizon is a well-earned and certainly long-awaited break to visit family in Australia.

“I never actually got home in the pandemic so in October it will be three years since I’ve been home so at the end of the season I’m definitely looking to nip back,” said Abernethy.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing my family. My partner is over here living in London and working so it’s lovely having that support here but family time is well overdue and very excited to head back to Australia when I can.

“The UK has been great to me but I think a few weeks at home will be lovely.”

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