Willoughby United Netball Club
Netball plays a big part in the life of our local community, and my region of Sydney is home to the largest netball association in Australia—in fact, probably in the world. This year, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of one of our oldest clubs, Willoughby United, which began playing in the Northern Suburbs Netball Association competition in 1971.
Willoughby United was the brainchild of former Willoughby council employee Gaie Speight. Gaie was concerned that there was not enough sport offered to girls in the local area, and she was motivated to advertise for a netball team for women in 1969. Sixteen girls arrived at the first training session at Willoughby Park, and thus the early stages of the club began.
Since then the club has gone from strength to strength and has become an integral part of the Northern Suburbs Netball Association competition. Its history has been marked by the longevity and extraordinary contribution of its volunteers, some of whom have been there from the very beginning. Others are now third-generation players, like the netball dynasty started by Shirley Rutter.
I want to acknowledge the role of June Haynes, who was a member of the original Willoughby United team and is still there today supporting the club, alongside her daughters, Nikki and Carly.
I also acknowledge Dorothy Gore OAM, who was president for 20 years and involved across the club’s history. More recently, Cath Stokes has been an outstanding president, retiring just earlier this year. To the current president, Shannon Bryant, and her team, I wish you and the club many more years of great netball and success.