Dubbo's Nita McGrath awarded for dedication to sport

A NETBALL devotee has won a NSW Netball Service Award for her efforts and commitment to a sport she helped bring to life in Dubbo almost 42 years ago.

Sporting role model Nita McGrath was "absolutely and completely stunned" to receive the award at the state dinner on Saturday night.

She was so surprised that her name was called that she was unable to admit the reasoning behind her win.

"I can't answer that truthfully. I was shocked that I got the award, I wasn't even listening to when Ian Sergeant read it out," she said.

"Maybe it was because of my longevity in the sport because I couldn't believe I got it."

McGrath, a netball player who had competed in Sydney, Kempsey and Wagga Wagga, arrived in Dubbo in 1970 and realised there was no netball in the city.

Together with Jan Foster, a former Dubbo South High School physical education teacher, the two kick-started the Dubbo Netball Association (DNA) and have been involved in the sport ever since.

Although she doesn't play netball anymore, McGrath is still vice-president of the DNA.

Her duties include standing in for the president, training the junior umpires and allocating them to games, as well as looking after the netball policy book.

McGrath has officially retired from coaching but generally likes to assist the DNA however she can.

"I've never played netball in Dubbo before. But I have seen a lot of talented players come through the city and I can see there is good support there... Dubbo netball is strong," McGrath said.

Throughout the years, McGrath has seen the sport "go up, go down and go up again" and now with over 1000 members, the DNA remains incredibly strong.

"Netball is such a wonderful game and has always been the main sport for me.

Any sport is vital to a child because it teaches them about teamwork, she said.

During her time with the DNA, McGrath has only seen one member make it through to the state level but that was as far as they went.

"Country towns are at an disadvantage with a lot of sports. People need to travel far and often to get that elite training. But there are elite netball coaches in Dubbo," she said.

She said coaches like Karin Morgan and Linda Macleod were perfect examples of elite mentors. Other netball officials like Penny Sortell, Shelley Hutchison and Michelle Ensor were among the "top notches" of the DNA.

"Our standard of play is high in Dubbo. But there is always an opportunity to take themselves that little bit further," she said.

anthony.cini@ruralpress.com

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