Our Sporting Life SA

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West Indian's Tango Debut

Jamaican captain Malysha Kelly will make her Nine News Netball Cup debut tonight for Tango as they take on reigning premiers Matrics at Netball SA Stadium.

Adelaide Thunderbirds player, Kelly is excited to take to the court with her likely opponent, Thunderbirds team mate Erin Bell.

"Yes, we are playing against Erin Bell's team this week so that will be quite interesting," Kelly said.

"We have had quite a few tussles at training so it will be quite interesting to see how we go when we are on opposite teams."

Whilst Kelly received limited Suncorp Super Netball game time this season, she is itching to play a full game for Tango with her new team mates.

"I met my team last weekend, and two of my team mates from the Thunderbirds (Hannah Petty and Renae Ingles) are on the team, so I just met a few of the girls and the coach Scott Waddington.

"So bascially its about getting good game time with these girls which will be great.

"I watched a game last week and it looks like its a strong competition, knowing that each of us (Thunderbirds players) are split up in different groups can inspire different players all across the state league.”

The Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist was recruited to the Thunderbirds this season by head coach Dan Ryan and became the second Jamaican in history to have played at the club and Kelly has fond memories of the last Jamaican to play for Adelaide, Carla Borrego, who is now an Australian Citizen.

"I remember seeing Carla Borrego once when I was a 13-year-old; I just joined the junior netball team in Jamaica, she didn't play for Jamaica at that time she just came to visit," Kelly said.

"She came to visit basically because she is not from Kingston and that's where the match was, I wasn't from Kingston either but I was in the junior program so I ended up going to the match and everybody was talking about this Carla Borrego.

"What was interesting for me and what stood out was that she brought kids with her from her community to see the match and I think that was pretty cool because a lot of kids back home would of loved to have been at the match and I'm like here goes this girl who is not part of the team anymore giving these kids opportunities.

"I've watched her play here and she is quite inspiring just watching her.”

Kelly only started netball in her first year of high school at 12.

"I got to high school and all of my friends played netball and I weighed up playing netball or doing track and field," Kelly said.

"I played my first game of netball in Year six, but I didn't play really, because it was like your tall lets see if you can do this.

“Then I started playing competitively when I was in High School.

"So thats how I got into netball and I loved it and never gave it up.”

She says she owes a lot of her success as a netballer to her sister, Sanya Townsend who used to drive her from St Catherine to the netball training base at Kingston.

"My sister would get up at 4am and drive approximately three hours to Kingston from St Catherine, just for me to train," she said.

"She would wait until I finish training, then drive me back home.

“most of my success is because of her and she is always attending my games in Jamaica.

Kelly is the youngest in her family of eight with two brothers Garnett and Andrew along with sisters Sanya, Sharie, Evlyn, Janice and Sandra.

The talented Jamaican gave up a promising 200 and 400 metre track and field career to take up netball as all her friends were playing the sport.

"My family is a sports orientated family and so they have always encouraged us to play sport," Kelly explained.

"While I was growing up through Primary school I was a runner, I used to compete in the 200m and 400metre races, I was fast," she laughed.

"I'm not the fastest or the slowest (when it came to the 100 metres) but I'm kind of, in between," Kelly smiled.

"I think Usain Bolt's long legs work for him, but I don't think mine work for me. I have long steps and that kind of slows me down a little over 100m."

Astute academically Kelly completed a Bachelor of International Relations at the University of West Indies and recently finished a degree in business management and is hoping to one day own a hair and beauty salon that her and her sister can manage.

"I loved studying the international relations but when I was finished, it was all leading to politics and politics is not something I do well with so I had to switch it off and then thought of the next best thing," Kelly continued.

"So because my sister - who I adore in a lot of things - is a hair stylist and is really good at it.

“I picked up a few things along the way just watching her so I wanted to have a salon so I thought if my sister controls that side of the business, I went forward to study business managament so I could control the other side of the business.

"I'm actually putting plans in place at the moment for a salon back home in Jamaica with her.

Sometimes whilst in Australia Kelly confessed to still being on 'Jamaican time'.

"I think sometimes I might be on Jamaican time," she laughs.

"I definitely do go to bed late, later than the normal because sometimes It's a better time to be talking to people back home in Jamaica, late nights here would be like early mornings there and I think my body is used to that time.

In 2014 Kelly was fortunate enough to play in the Bronze medal winning team at the Commonwealth Games but suffered an injury prior to the 2015 World Championships and did not recover in time for this event.

It has been another motivating factor for her. She wants to return and lead the Jamaican side in their next International match and looking further forward to the Commonwealth Games in 2018 on the Gold Coast.

" To captain Jamaica and my best friends was pretty amazing; also that I had the support from them," Kelly said.

"For me playing netball with your best friends is one of the greatest things you can do and doing it for your country is one of the most amazing things you can experience and I cherish those moments looking forward to similar moments to come.

Kelly is hopeful to remain a Thunderbird in 2018.

She has enjoyed her experiences in Adelaide with our amazing wildlife and also going deep into the shark zones off the Adelaide beaches.

"One of the things I've enjoyed in Adelaide is getting out and about seeing the wildlife I get to go to the Zoo and open wildlife; we definitely dont have those things back home," she smiled.

"We dont really have siginificant animals or country, like here the Kangaroos and Koala's we dont really have those significant types of wildlife.

"I've enjoyed getting used to having dogs as pets, we do have dogs as pets but we don't like have them in our houses as such.

"When I'm around my team mates and everybody and I mean almost everybody on my team has a dog, It's about getting used to it and enjoying it as well.

"I love the Kangaroo's and Koala's, although I'm a bit apprehensive about the Koala as whenever I'm holding one.

“I have to question why do they have to keep feeding them and thats kind of a bit scary. I loved feeding the Kangaroos, they are pretty cool, I think its quite interesting that they are native to Australia.

"I remember when a group of us went paddleboarding off the Adelaide shore, we basically tied all the boards together and we were drifting away and then one of our team mates said I think we should be getting closer to shore because we are in the shark zone area and I was like.. .what?!

“I wasn't panicking then but later on in the news almost where we were there was a shark spotted and I was like oh how scary, this is extreme, so certain things I wouldn't experience back home I do enjoy here.

"I would like to return to Adelaide in 2018.

“Just build on what I've learnt not in terms of game wise.

“Definitely this season didn't go well in terms of results, but I’ve seen growth and improvement in my game personally and I'd like to build on that .”

Tango play Matrics tonight from 7pm at Netball SA Stadium on Court 3.

Image: Andrew Frackowski

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