She carries a wise head on her responsibility-burdened shoulders, but Helen Barclay is strident in what she sets out to achieve.
While Netball Victoria announced a second expansion team, the Victorian Flames, Barclay was rewarded last Wednesday with selection in Victoria’s first ANL side, the Fury.
Barclay glowed in appreciation upon hearing the news and pointed towards the introduction of the second Victorian side as giving more opportunity for girls in the VNL to represent their state.
“There was an extra incentive with a new team coming and board and just more scope to being selected,” Barclay said.
|Helen Barclay (GD) doing some of her best work. |
Credit: Shawn Smits
“Particularly being one of the older players of both Monash and the Victorian squads, it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Part of the nuts and bolts of Monash’s superb defensive record this year alongside Georgie Davenport and Natalie Tommasini, Barclay has gone a long to way to ensure Central’s number one ranking for goals conceded in 2013, even ahead of Championship ladder leaders Peninsula Waves.
Despite the numbers telling a different story, Barclay believes that, in terms of consistency, this hasn’t been her strongest.
“I’ve had better years. I feel I probably haven’t reached the levels that I wanted to be at,” Barclay said.
“That’s probably why I’m so stoked to be chosen for the Fury, because I felt particularly my last season has been more consistent than this one.
“Having said that there’s the whole second half of this year to work my way back into the game.
“Georgie and I have been playing and I think we can get even better before the season’s end.”
The formal selection process began on May 3, culminating in weeks of strenuous squad training and fitness testing, where Tscharke said she relished in “the opportunity to push myself with the intensity of training”.
As much of a testament it is for both Tscharke and Monash skipper Helen Barclay – chosen for the Victorian Fury – Netball Victoria High Performance Manager, Eloise Southby-Halbish said the high calibre of the two teams is a testament to the level of netball in Victoria and an exciting prospect for young netballers in the state.
“This is a very exciting year for Victorian netball,” Southby-Halbish said.
“The selectors have found the process of selecting this squad very challenging and believe that we have picked the most in form and consistent performers within our premier Victorian Netball League competition.”
Asked on the differences, the transition and step-up between Victorian training and Monash training, Barclay laughed.
“It’s definitely a step up in intensity,” Barclay.
“Which is good because I’d like to think that I can take it back to Monash and the VNL and apply it to my own and my teammates’ games. It’s been a great experience so far.”
Not only has Barclay had to juggle the pressures of full time work with the commitments of netball, the baton of captaincy has been passed down to the experienced Central defender.
It’s a title that Barclay admits to being uncertain with, but has grown to enjoy.
“It’s been a challenge, purely because I’ve only played under and filled the role of co-captain before,” Barclay said.
“With senior players leaving the taking over the solo gig, they were big shoes to fill and I wasn’t sure if I was still capable of playing good netball.
“It’s been a really positive challenge and the girls have been really supportive, which makes it much easier and more enjoyable.”
As the skipper, Barclay was straight to the point in reflecting on her team’s performance to date, with just over five weeks to go.
“We’re definitely not satisfied with not making finals. Our goal all along has been to make finals and win the championship,” Barclay said.
“Having said that, we’ve had standout performances mixed in with performances we rather forget.
“From hereon in, our goal is to really up the ante and reach our full potential so that we’re at our best for when finals roll around.”
Monash Championship Leesa Maxfield praised Barclays’s representative selection – as well as teammate saying it was a testament to her durability and consistency in season 2013.
“The criteria for selection was that they had to perform at a high standard consistently,” Maxfield said.
“That meant that any one of our girls could’ve been selected, but it’s a tribute to Lauren and Helen who’ve been pivotal in our ability to suffocate the top teams with our defence.
“It’s a true credit to their consistency and work ethic.”
With five rounds to go of the regular season, Barclay can’t help but look forward to what may lie ahead with her Fury experiences.
One of those will include coming face-to-face on-court with teammate and friend, Lauren Tscharke.
“Yeah I suppose we will cross paths, we’ll be on the right part of the court together,” Barclay said.
“We’ve got a game scheduled in Melbourne. I don’t think we’ll play directly on each other, which is relief.
“I think you can struggle playing on someone you already play netball with, but I’m sure it’ll be really healthy competition when we get out there.”
Yet for now, sitting just outside the top five and the goal of making finals a non-negotiable, Barclay’s attention will be focussed on the coming Wednesday night when Monash do battle against Boroondara Genesis.
The match kicks off on Wednesday, June 12 at 7pm at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, Court 3.