This article was written by Natalie Akle.
You would never guess that high-school student, Matisse Letherbarrow, has been hurled into the deep-end of a promising netball career.
The 16-year-old’s relaxed demeanour displays no hint of worry as she juggles her netballing career and her education. The netball superstar trains a minimum of five days a week while still aiming to sit her HSC next year at her local high-school, Catharine McAuley in Westmead.
(Letherbarrow representing the NSW Waratahs in ANL Round One in May: Source: Kelly Defina/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Letherbarrow has signed a contract with the NSW Swifts and is now the youngest training partner in the team for 2019. While typical teens swoon over the most recent pop idols and boy bands, Letherbarrow is instead trying to contain her excitement as she accepts the opportunity to work with her biggest inspirations, already commencing training amongst high-profile netballers including Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud.
“I’ve watched some of these really talented athletes’ growing up, I’m like oh my gosh these people have been on TV and do such amazing things and I’m just kind of starting my way,” said Letherbarrow
“Just knowing how good they are and knowing everything they’ve achieved is definitely intimidating but it also makes me really excited to have this opportunity.”
Yet at 188cm tall, the goal-shooter is not anxious to take the Super Netball court in 2019 if need be. Letherbarrow has a multitude of netballing achievements under her belt, where she has gone from playing local 15/U’s rep netball with her friends to being selected for several reputable netball teams, including the Australian Netball squad, in just over a year.
The 16-year-old exposed her talent to the elite netballing world in June, leading the ANL’s NSW Waratahs to victory, where she shot an impressive 36 goals from 39 attempts.
Despite her four-game absence due to her commitment to the Australian Schoolgirl’s squad, Letherbarrow secures third place on the ANL goal-shooting ladder with an 89 per cent shooting percentage, where she scored 397 goals out of 446 attempts throughout the season.
Letherbarrow says putting in the hard-yards is her secret to success in the circle, where she puts up one-hundred to two-hundred shots a day to ensure she is ready for every opportunity she gets on the court.
“I think shooting everyday has given me the confidence, I know I’ve done all the preparation, I know I’ve done everything I can before a game,” said Letherbarrow.
With her avid commitment to the sport, the aspiring athlete is not discouraged by the sacrifices she must make to pursue her netballing achievements, where in her eyes, a normal teenage social life does not compare to the career she has accomplished.
“I’ve had to choose not to go to parties or function because I have training or a game the next day and stuff like that, but in saying that I absolutely love netball and it’s what I want to do as a career so I’m more than happy to sacrifice these things,” said Letherbarrow.
Letherbarrow is grateful for the opportunities she has been given and humbled by the netball world’s faith in her skills, despite her young age,
“I’ve taken these oppurtunities with both hands, tried to utilise it as much as I can and tried to prove to people that I am capable”, said Letherbarrow.
“I think because people have taken those risks on me, I’ve been able to show them that I can do it and do what I love.”
“I want it so bad and netball is something I really want to do. As I go up the ladder and I’m getting into different teams it’s very exciting and I just want more of it.”