Six months ago, teenaged Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley had not cemented a spot in the starting line-up but is now poised to make her international netball debut before the year’s end.
Representing the new generation of players for the next cycle of pinnacle events, Walmsley, 19, has been named in the 16-strong 2023-24 Silver Ferns squad alongside Pulse stablemates Tiana Metuarau, Maddy Gordon, Whitney Souness and Kelly Jury to claim a rare distinction in one short season.
``I feel like it’s been a really fast developmental stage for me this season,’’ Walmsley said of her rapid elevation.
``I was very shocked, very overwhelmed, very grateful. It was a mix of emotions and I was shaking but very excited.’’
Unexpectedly thrust into the starter’s role as the Pulse’s main shooter from Round 1 of this year’s ANZ Premiership, the 1.92m Walmsley answered the varied challenges of top-flight netball to deliver a captivating breakout season.
``When you have opportunities come to you, you’ve really got to grasp on to them and make the most of it because you never know when the next one’s going to come,’’ she said.
``There’s always moments where you want to be better but I think for the most part, I handled it all pretty well as it all happened quite fast. There definitely are areas where I’d like to improve, but for the most part I think I did do quite well to manage it all.’’
Starting all games during the season and playing most of the 60 minutes in each was a complete reversal of what the 19-year-old had been expecting, which was building on her limited court-time experience from the previous season.
Improved strength and conditioning allowed the tall shooter to hold her own in the physical battles that unfold in the circle, while the mental component has played an equally important role.
``To make the Silver Ferns has always been a dream since I was a little girl but I didn’t expect it to come so soon,’’ she said.
``I think you have to prepare yourself to always be ready for whatever comes at you. There’s obviously still a lot to learn and I’m really excited for that but I think it’s a good step in what I hope will be a long career.’’
Fellow Pulse players in defender Parris Mason and Fa’amu Ioane have also been included in the 10-strong 2023-24 Silver Ferns Development squad.
``It came as a bit of a shock,’’ Mason said. ``I’m not sure I saw it coming at all but it’s pretty cool and I’m stoked to be in there but it definitely was a big shock.’’
The multi-talented Mason, 20, who was part of the Tall Ferns team that contested the Asia Cup in Sydney earlier this year, and plays for the Tokomanawa Queens in the women’s national basketball league, made a strong impact for the Pulse off the bench this season and is ready to push on.
``The goal for next year is certainly to solidify a place in that starting seven,’’ she said. ``There’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do but that is the end goal and just have a good season to hopefully keep pushing myself and being able to keep climbing up those ranks.
``I came into the professional environment quite young, so now I’m just starting to find my feet amongst the team. I’m so young still and I’ve got so much still to do but at this moment I’m pretty happy with how I’m progressing along. I just want to keep putting my best foot forward.’’
In her first season with the Pulse, former World Youth Cup winner Ioane delivered a consistently strong season in the midcourt to also earn her spot in the Development squad.
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