My life in sport: Paula Griffin

By Dana Johannsen

Paula Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell
Paula Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell

Netball's big push into semi-professionalism has resulted in longer seasons, with the sport increasingly becoming a year-round endeavour for our top athletes.

Spare a thought then for rookie Silver Ferns shooter Paula Griffin, who is this year splitting her time between three major campaigns.

The year started with a move to Wellington to join the Central Pulse. Griffin, who turned 21 a month ago, was one of the most experienced members of the young side, who this year recorded their first win in the for the ANZ Championship.

There was little time for rest after the ANZ Championship season, with Griffin switching her focus to the New Zealand Under-21 side as they prepare for the World Youth Championships beginning in Rarotonga in just under two weeks' time.

Griffin was yesterday named to captain the Under-21 squad for the tournament, where New Zealand will be looking to defend their title won in Miami in 2005.

Following the World Youth Champs, Griffin will likely be rushed back into the Silver Ferns team for their test series against the World Seven. The Ferns have three matches against the world selection team, before a five-test series against Australia, followed by an end of year tour to England and the Caribbean. It's an exhausting schedule but the youngster isn't at all bothered.

"I'm playing for three different teams so it's kind of a different challenge for each team, which keeps you fresh. I love netball so I'm not going to get sick of it."

What inspired you to embark on a career in sport?

That would have started from my parents [Karina and Geoff], they both have a strong sporting background and were both great athletes and they kind of put me into the sporting scene when I was younger. I pretty much played every sport you can think of throughout my childhood and I ended up picking netball because I loved it so much.

When you were 13 years old, what sport did you fancy yourself as a future star in?

It was kind of between volleyball, basketball and netball. But I guess I had more going for me in netball and there were lots more opportunities in the sport in New Zealand.

Describe your job.

Being a netballer is an amazing job to have. At the moment I'm basically a professional athlete so I train really hard to do something I love and get paid for it. Outside of netball I've just finished my diploma in broadcasting and radio so I'm looking to go towards that way in the future.

What is the best thing about your job?

I'm a really competitive person so I love getting to compete every week. And just training towards big goals and then getting rewarded with selection and [competing] at big events like the World Championships is really amazing.

And the worst thing?

I don't know if there is a bad thing about being an athlete. Maybe having "fat tests" - that's not always nice.

How much control do you have over whether your team wins or loses?

It's like the old saying goes, "there's no 'I' in team", so you can't do it all by yourself. But if you're not doing your job out on court and doing the best you can then the team are going to find it hard to win.

What are the proudest achievements of your sporting life?

I would have to say our recent win over NSW Swifts [the Central Pulse this season recorded their first win in the transtasman league in round 13], just because I've never been in a team that has lost so much. But the belief and courage in our team that day was amazing and it was uplifting to finally get that win after striving all year for it.

And what's your worst moment?

The worst moment would probably be losing the World Champs in 2007. It was my first World Championships and it was obviously a really cool experience, but it was really heart-breaking losing to Australia in the final.

Name the one career ambition that you want to realise before you retire.

I'd love to win gold at the Commonwealth Games and to win a World Champs as well. That's what every netballer strives for.

Who in the world do you most admire and why?

That's always going to be my Mum and Dad. They brought me up and have a lot to do with who I am today and inspire me just because they lead by example and they always have the answers for me, and always know what to do.

What's your favourite venue to play at?

I think it would have to be Trusts Stadium [in Auckland]. I grew up in the area so I really love that court and it's just got a really nice feel about it.

What's your hobby to get away from your sport?

I actually really like fishing. Or just hanging at the beach with my friends. I'm definitely an outdoors person.

Who was your childhood hero?

That would be Irene van Dyk [Griffin's Silver Ferns teammate]. My mum bought me her book she released way back about herself and I read about all her struggles in South Africa and then coming to the Ferns, so I've always followed her career and she's always been someone I really admire.

THE CV
2005: First named in the New Zealand Under-21 squad.
2006: Named in the Auckland Diamonds squad, selected in the Silver Ferns squad later that year.
2007: Selected in the Silver Ferns test side for the England tour, before going on to represent the Ferns at the World Championships in Auckland, where she made her test debut.
2008: Selected in the Northern Mystics team for the inaugural season of the ANZ Championships.
2009: Moved to the Central Pulse in search of more court time in the transtasman league, named captain of the New Zealand Under-21 side for the World Youth Champs in the Cook Islands.

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