It was a sad day in netball this week when Irene van Dyk announced she had retired from the Silver Ferns.

The loveable star goal shoot has been at the top of her game for 20 years and will forever be known as one of the world's best netballers.

She is easily the most capped international netballer and is an icon of the game.

Despite her living in Wellington, for 10 years we were happy to claim van Dyk as one of our own when she was a member of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic side.


Under the guidance of Rotorua coach Noeline Taurua the team has been the only New Zealand franchise to take out the ANZ Championship title.

This year she moved back to her original regional side, the Pulse in Wellington. While she has not had a shocking season, van Dyk hasn't been her usual continually brilliant self.

Her decision to retire from international netball is an honest and admirable one.

Yesterday she said in a statement: "I have really high expectations of myself and my match statistics over the past few months in the ANZ Championships are simply not good enough to justify taking my game to the international level".

Starting her international career playing and captaining the South African side, van Dyk's move to New Zealand and selection for the Silver Ferns in 2000 was a controversial one.

At the time the only rule in netball for players switching between nations was a ban on playing for more than one nation in a calendar year.

While her selection meant a New Zealand-born shooter has missed out for the past 20 years, no one has minded.

Van Dyk is the sort of player and person everyone loves. She's a true gracious sportswoman who has been loved and admired by all.

We will miss seeing van Dyk's smiley face in the black dress but thankfully she won't be leaving the netball courts completely, and will continue to play in the ANZ Championship.