Queen's Birthday Honours 2012: Temepara George

By Dana Johannsen

Temepara George. Photo / Richard Robinson
Temepara George. Photo / Richard Robinson

Temepara George jokes she may insist on having the letters MNZM screen-printed on the back of her Northern Mystics playing uniform for the rest of the netball season.

But with or without the fancy title, George has long been a stand-out on the court.

The former Silver Ferns star, known for her speed, timing and vision as well as her bubbly off-court persona, has been acknowledged for her services to netball with membership of the NZ Order of Merit.

The honour has come as a huge shock to George, who won her way into the hearts of New Zealanders in 2003 with a stand-out performance in the Ferns' famous world championship win over Australia.

Back then she was known as "our little pocket rocket". Now she is Temepara Anne George, MNZM.

George admits it has taken a little while to get her head around it all.

"When I got the letter in the mail it was so unexpected I didn't know what to do, it was pretty overwhelming," she said.

"When you play netball you never really think about receiving this kind of stuff, it's just such a huge honour."

A veteran of 89 tests for New Zealand - 16 as vice-captain, George retired from international netball after last year's world championships.

Now playing in her farewell season in the transtasman league, the weeks are fast ticking down to the day the dynamic midcourter steps off the court for good.

But the 36-year-old insists she will never be lost to the game.

Having been involved with youth development over the latter stages of her career, George is keen to continue running coaching clinics focusing on improving the skills of players inthe tier below ANZ Championship level.

Having had to keep the news of her honour a secret for the past month, George expects she may get a bit of flak from her teammates when she turns up to Mystics' training today.

But with her sights set on one more accolade before she retires - an ANZ Championship winners medal - George said she would be making sure they get down to business quickly.

- NZ Herald

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