Dream becomes reality as Mi Mi flies with Firebirds
NETBALL: Jemma Mi Mi can laugh about it now, but even as a 15-year-old she wasn't trying to fool anyone that she actually believed she could one day be playing for the Queensland Firebirds.
Not even club great and Australian star Laura Geitz.
Mi Mi was already a national representative herself - a member of the Australian under-15s team - when Geitz visited her school, Carmel College in Brisbane, to host a clinic.
"I actually remember we were all sitting down and Laura asked us, 'so who wants to be a Firebird?'," Mi Mi recalled to News Regional Media.
While all of the girls' hands shot up, Mi Mi resisted.
It wasn't because she didn't dream of one day suiting up in the purple.
"I just didn't think it would happen," she said.
Fast forward five years, and Mi Mi would prove herself wrong by signing with the Brisbane-based franchise in late 2016 and preparing to play in the first season of the new Super Netball competition.
But even 12 months ago - when still simply a shadow player for the Queensland under-21 team, while also still in the Australian touch rugby representative system - she had been taking it one step at a time.
"Becoming a professional sportswoman wasn't in my head at all," she said.
Things changed, however, when she got the chance to star for her state at the national under-21 netball championships and was then added to the Aussie side to contest the Youth World Cup.
She had also been included in the national women's open touch rugby team, but with her netball commitments increasing she had to knock back the invitation.
"That was the turning point," she said. "Touch football is great, but it doesn't give you much opportunity."
Unlike netball in this day and age.
The Firebirds enticed her to train towards the end of last season and once again she briefly got to rub shoulders with Geitz, just before the veteran defender called time on her illustrious career after leading her team to a second-straight - and final - ANZ Championship.
"Playing practice matches against them, it was a really exciting opportunity to see where I was compared to the players at the elite level," said Mi Mi, whose mum Monica represented Queensland in netball.
"I knew I had to step up my game."
But, with "speed to burn" - as Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke described it - from out of defence, clubs saw the incredible potential of Mi Mi, and the phone calls started coming in with offers.
"I did get approached by some of the new clubs," she said. "I thought 'wow'."
Though born in Newcastle, when dad Jim was stationed with the army in Singleton, Mi Mi has lived in Brisbane since age seven.
Having decided to go with the Firebirds, she is a strong chance to debut in the Super Netball opener against the Sunshine Coast Lightning at the Brisbane Entertaintainment Centre on Saturday night.
Suffice to say, Mi Mi is now a believer.
"Dreams can happen I guess," she said with a laugh.
Go to Ticketek.com.au to book your tickets for this Saturday night's clash at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.