7 December 2021

Canberra netballer Nalani Makunde crowned State League MVP for 2021

| Max O'Driscoll
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Canberra Netball Association goal-shooter Nalani Makunde

Canberra Netball Association goal-shooter Nalani Makunde has been named HCF State League MVP for 2021. Photo: Supplied.

From the beginning of her netballing journey, Nalani Makunde’s natural talent was there for everyone to see.

This was only in 2015, when Nalani, who at the time was a keen basketballer, tried netball at a school carnival.

“I was a kid who would sign up for any sport as a way of getting a day off school,” she says with a laugh.

“Through that, I somehow ended up with one of my friends – who was on my basketball team at the time – who said to me, ‘You should come train for a bit to see if you like it.'”

It wasn’t long before Nalani asked to try out for the ACT state team, eventually making it and fast-tracking her development.

On Friday, 3 December, Nalani was crowned Most Valuable Player (MVP) for Netball ACT’s premier competition, the HCF State League. Playing at goal-shooter for Canberra Netball Association, she shot an incredible 446 goals in only 10 games this season, at an accuracy of 91 per cent.

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Nalani says the recognition is a “nice consolation prize” for not getting to finish the season due to the ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Canberra Netball Association missed out on the opportunity to push for a three-peat of HCF State League titles because of the abrupt conclusion to the competition when COVID-19 lockdown came into effect.

As for who she has to thank, Nalani says it is a never-ending list.

“I’ve had so many coaches and all of them have had an influence on me,” she says. “Tara [Steel] has been my State League coach since 2016 so obviously I owe a lot to her.

“She’s so fantastic and she won the coaching award last year. That really speaks to how good she is, but also [she is valued] as a person.

“I think this year and last year being involved in the Capital Spirit space [has also been valuable], which is our team that plays in NSW. Kate Carpenter is the coach of that team and she’s been great for me, too.”

In 2022, Nalani is looking forward to a return to the Australian Netball Championships after the competition didn’t go ahead in 2020 or 2021. She will also be pushing for a three-peat of titles for the Canberra Netball team.

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“We’ve been really lucky to have the past few years that we’ve had,” she says.

“We were on track to defend our back-to-back so hopefully just continuing with that as a club. I think we’re really lucky; we have a lot of depth and some great players moving up so we just need to keep on building and improve on our performances each week.”

Addressing the potential for a Canberra team in Australia’s Super Netball competition, Nalani says the ACT’s facilities must first receive much-needed upgrades.

“We’re not quite equipped for Super Netball yet,” she says.

“It’d be a dream of mine though. I’d love to see a team pop up in Canberra eventually. I’m a big believer in the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

“I think we’re next on the list. I’ve seen Tassie is interested in a team coming up in the next few years so hopefully we see it one day, but I think right now just continuing to build on the state league competition is what they’re looking at, and pathways, which I think has improved a lot in the time I’ve been there.”

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