Most World Masters Games competitors have been motivated by a pursuit of medals, or simply to enjoy the company of old friends and new.

But occasionally, participation has been about honouring friends and family that can't be there, and no group has epitomised that spirit more than the Tbags netballers, playing in tribute to former Silver Ferns shoot Tania Dalton.

Initially, Dalton was instrumental in assembling this band of former representative performers, but when she died in tragic circumstances last month, the event took on new meaning - to not only celebrate her memory, but also raise funds for the newly created Tania Dalton Foundation.

After a week of ice, bandages, laughter and tears, the Tbags took out their Competitive 40+ grade with a decisive 61-19 win over Gosford Gems in Friday's final.


The result was little more than a formality - the Sydneysiders were the only other team in that grade and had been dispatched 51-21 earlier in the week.

"It's been fun and that's what Masters was all about for us - hanging out with old netball mates, having good laughs about Tarns, sharing lots of memories and creating new ones," reflected former Silver Ferns captain Anna Stanley, who was co-opted onto the roster, when Dalton died.

"We've loved getting out on the court and throwing the ball around. The bodies aren't so willing, but we've got through pretty unscathed with no major injuries.

"There's been a lot of strapping, and it's been more and more as the week progressed, but the old girls have pushed through the pain barrier."

After receiving their gold medals, Tbags captain Leonie Leaver, herself a former Silver Ferns shooter, tearfully thanked participants at the tournament for embracing their campaign and apologised to any who found their actions a little over the top at times.
She needn't have worried.

After the final, both teams and spectators at the Auckland Netball Centre sang, clapped and danced to Dalton's favourite song, "Sweet Caroline".

"Neil Diamond is a very polarising artist," grinned Stanley. "People will be sick of him and Kenny Rogers after this week, but that was Tania and this week has been about doing what she would have loved.

"We've talked a lot about that. Last night was Leonie's birthday and we sat around talking about what the week meant to us.

"There was a lot of emotion and everyone said Tarns would have loved it."

And the Tbags' mission became netball's mission.

The Tania Dalton Foundation aims to help girls from all kinds of circumstances to unlock their talent and live the biggest life they can ... just like Dalton.

Stanley said other teams had passed over envelopes with donations throughout the week. Several tournament umpires gave their match fees to the cause and Barfoot & Thompson director Peter Thompson pledged to match all contributions, dollar for dollar.

The Dalton family had supported the team every day and at the medal presentation, daughter Tayla also received a gold medal and commemorative cap on behalf of her mother.

"If people didn't know who Tania Dalton was before this week, they sure do now," chuckled Stanley.