When GWS Giants star keeper Sam Poolman arrived at Krystal Dallinger’s school to tell her she would have the chance to design the club’s Indigenous Round dress, the young netballer admits there were “a fair few tears”.
Dallinger, a Dubbo product who now lives and plays netball in Newcastle, met the Super Netball star through Poolman’s ASPIRE program at the Hunter Academy.
After the development program was finished, and Poolman was heading back to the Giants, Dallinger gave her a present: a club hat emblazoned with Indigenous designs, to thank her for everything she had done.
The act blew Sam Poolman off her feet – a tough ask considering her talents as a Super Netball keeper.
“I was blown away by the time and effort that Krystal and her mum must have gone to to create a gift for me,” Poolman said of the gift.
“I took the hat back to the Giants and said ‘I have a netballer in my region that is talented and passionate and she’s created this art’.”
Newcastle’s top netballing talent asked her club if they would get her onboard for the first Indigenous Round design and they agreed.
“The Giants backed me in the decision and I went to Hunter Sports High to surprise Krystal and told her she’d be selected to provide her own design for the dresses,” Poolman explained.
“There were definitely a few tears then.”
“Now it’s printed on our dresses and she gets to look at that and know she was part of the history. It’s something really special for her.”
Far Dallinger herself, the experience has been surreal.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do something this amazing for the Giants netball team, and for NAIDOC,” the 16-year-old Dallinger said.
“To be able to do this for my culture, and represent my love for both is just surreal.”
Dallinger had the chance to meet the entire Giants roster at Tuesday morning’s unveiling of her design and will attend the Indigenous Round match.
“I want to be in one of those dresses one day, inspiring younger kids and youth coming up through the systems. It’s definitely the dream,” Dallinger added.
I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do something this amazing for the Giants netball team.Krystal Dallinger
Dallinger credited much of the work to her mother, Caroline, who is now also based in Newcastle with the Hunter Sports High student.
There was a huge amount of family history and tradition to learn during the design of the work, with Dallinger hailing from the Kamilaroi Nation of Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Angledool in the western area.
And while this is a thrill neither mother or daughter could have expected, it is one which has made all the hard work and effort in moving from Dubbo worth it.
“It’s been a massive journey,” Caroline told the Giants’ official website.
“I’ve had to leave my son in Dubbo so we’ve only seen him three or four times in the past 12 months, but without this move, Krystal wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities, like meeting Sam was one of the best things that ever happened to her.”
The Dallingers have been to events like the NRL All Stars match but to be part of an Indigenous round in the sport they love is something which is still thinking in.
“Netball is what brought us so close and what brings our community,” Caroline said.
“We are a small community in Dubbo and a lot of our friends and people we call family have been brought together by netball so to hear the stories of the Giants, not just coming from all around Australia but coming from around the world and coming together to play the sport we love and the team we love representing our culture, it’s such a proud moment.”
The Giants take on the Sydney Swifts at 5pm on Sunday.