One of Australian netball's quiet achievers - April Brandley - is ready to make her mark in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
With 21 international caps for the Diamonds, a premiership with the Firebirds and a Commonwealth Games debut pending, April Brandley is one of Australian netball’s quiet achievers.
A reliable performer, but a softly spoken one at that, the talented defender prefers to let her netball do the talking.
And with the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games nearing, Brandley – who earnt her first career selection and will compete for Team Australia in netball – is ready to make some noise.
“[The Commonwealth Games] is something I’ve always aspired to be a part of my entire career,” she told Magpies Netball this week.
“It’s the pinnacle of our sport and to get the opportunity to represent Team Australia, alongside other incredible athletes from all over the world, is something I don’t take for granted.
“This is a massive achievement for me, and I’ve worked six years [at the highest level] to get to this point, so I’m very excited.”
Since making her international debut in 2013, Brandley has been a consistent performer for Lisa Alexander and the Diamonds.
And when she received the phone call from her national coach telling her she’d made the Commonwealth Games squad, Brandley needed a few days to let the news sink in.
“After the squad had been selected, we were told we would receive phone calls from Lisa shortly after we returned from tour.”
“My phone call was scheduled for 2:35pm and at 2:36pm, I was freaking out a little, waiting anxiously by the phone.
“It took a few days to appreciate what had just happened – the fact that I had been chosen for the Commonwealth Games team. Once that had sunk in, I was able to share the news with my family, and that’s when it felt real.
“My family have been a massive support throughout my career, so to be able to share this with them made it all the more special for me.”
Other than telling their families, the selected players were bound by silence over their selection.
So much so, that the first time Brandley found out who she’d be travelling to the Gold Coast with was at the formal announcement in Melbourne, a few days after the team had been picked.
“There were a change room set up before the announcement where we all gathered.”
“I walked in with Kim Ravaillion and Jo Weston, and we were sitting there waiting to see who else would walk in.
“It was a bizarre situation, but it’s part of the experience and I’ve learned to appreciate every one of these special moments.”
As she anxiously waited for the team to take shape, Brandley was overcome with emotion when one particular player walked through the doors.
“When Madi Robinson walked in, I became very emotional. I am so proud of her and to see her back in the green and gold was such a special moment.”
As teammates at the Holden Centre, Brandley knew how much this selection had meant to her captain, with Robinson not lining up for the Diamonds in the latter half of 2017.
“I know the journey Mads has been on and to see the way she’s gone about her business and the resilience she has shown; I am so happy for her and she really deserves this opportunity.”
Not only will Brandley have Robinson by her side on the Gold Coast, but she’ll be sharing the experience with two other of her Magpies teammates.
Caitlin Thwaites, Ravaillion and Robinson will all tackle their second Commonwealth Games campaigns, while Brandley will make her maiden appearance at the tournament.
“To be able to share this journey with my Collingwood teammates adds another layer of appreciation and uniqueness to this experience.”
“We were at camp last week in Canberra, and I was just picking their brains, asking them what the Games will be like and how things will work.
“They each have a Commonwealth Games gold medal in their collection already, and I can’t wait to hopefully add one to mine by the time we get back to Melbourne.”
Although a newcomer to the Commonwealth Games squad, Brandley is confident her international experience with the Diamonds will keep her well-prepared for the level of competition.
“I have slowly found my way with my game and I now know where and how I fit into the national team.”
“Every time you pull on the green and gold dress, it’s a massive honour, but you also get the chance to understand and appreciate your role and what you can add to the group.
“I’m so honoured to be able to represent Australia, and to be competing in a Commonwealth Games on home soil, with my friends, family and our fellow Australians there to support us – it’s just incredible.
“It gives me a lot of perspective. I know it’s going to be an awesome experience and I can’t wait to get up on the Gold Coast next week.”
The Australian netball team will kick off their 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign against Northern Ireland on April 5.
Thursday 5 April – Game 1 – Australia v Northern Ireland
Friday 6 April – Game 2 – Australia v Barbados
Sunday 8 April – Game 3 – Australia v South Africa
Monday 9 April – Game 4 – Australia v Fiji
Wednesday 11 April – Game 5 – Australia v Jamaica