Grace Bailey is loving her time on the netball court.
Grace Bailey is loving her time on the netball court. Mike Knott BUN180319NET1

JUNIOR GRACES A NEW COURT: Bailey gets chance to play

NETBALL: Bundaberg junior Grace Bailey is proof that no matter who you are or what you do, anyone can play sport.

The 12-year-old made her debut in netball on Saturday, playing a team sport for the first time.

Grace has Down syndrome but it hasn't stopped her one bit from getting involved.

She played in the NetSetGo programs against seven and eight-year-olds for Fusion Netball Club.

Grace has been given the opportunity to go down a level to suit her playing style by the Bundaberg Netball Association.

"There was tears and goosebumps from us," mother Kathy Bailey said.

"It was something that was unexpected. The girls in the team were so welcoming. They reached out to her, hugged her and included her.

"It was so heart-warming to see that they embraced Grace regardless of her disability."

The idea for Grace to play came from Stephanie Walmsley, her support worker and a coach at Fusion. She took Grace to games before her debut.

"She just watched and said I wanted to have a go," Kathy said.

"She did the training with the girls and then played a full game with the girls.

"(She had the) feeling of empowerment and excitement and self confidence after that, she was on a high because she managed to achieve it."

Walmsley said Grace played at goalkeeper in her first game and impressed.

"She did great, she caught the ball, threw the ball and did running," she said.

"I thought it was quite easy getting her in the team and they've just accepted her."

Walmsley was also full of praise for the BNA and Fusion Netball Club.

She said Fusion were the ones that asked the BNA for Grace to play in a lower grade with the association in full support of the move.

Grace said it was fun to play and to make new friends while Kathy hopes she can play and enjoy the game for as long as possible.

Grace will be back on court this Saturday.



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