Gretel Bueta will remain in purple until the end of 2023. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

Superstar Firebird Gretel Bueta remains as grateful as ever for her time in the sport after bringing up her 100th game in the national league in May

A star in the world of netball, internationally and domestically, Gretel Bueta is a household name that transends the game.

Becoming one of the best goal attacks Australia and the world has ever seen, she is still completely in awe at her journey after forty international caps and a Liz Ellis Diamond.

Starting in the national league with her debut in 2014, Bueta has changed the way netball is played and inspired so many budding sportswomen, including her signature lay-up to score, a feature of her basketball playing days in the WNBL and national teams before she got into netball.

After notching up 100 national league games of netball after being signed by the NSW Swifts, she says she is focused on helping to continue the culture at the Firebirds and to add to the club that has given her so much.

She celebrated her 100 game milestone playing the Collingwood Magpies in Tasmania at MyState Bank Arena in front of some family that had travelled over.

She joined The Inner Sanctum to chat about the journey to 100 games and the Queensland Firebirds over the last seven years.

“Seven seasons has flown by, it’s been an incredible journey, beginning 2015-2016 with those championship wins,” she says.

“I remember my mum saying to me, ‘that’s not usual these championship wins Gretel, that doesn’t always happen’ and I was so young and naive then that I was like ‘yes it is mum’ but it’s so special those championship wins,

“I think the 100 games snuck up on me, I’d always planned for Bobby and Niko and my parents to come to the Hobart one so that worked out perfectly for my 100th,

“I’m just so grateful for this game. I absolutely love the game of netball and it challenges you every time you step out on court which is what I love,

“You always want to be better but you always grateful as well for the experience of being out there and I’ve done it 100 times and I’d do it 100 more again it’s just the best feeling in the world and I just want to give back to the sport as much as I can because it’s given me so much,

“I just want to keep growing and learning as a player, you never can learn enough and it’s continuing to teach me so much and it’s the best game in the world and so I’m grateful for every minute I’m out there.”

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When asking her about her future endeavours while still in the league, Bueta explains her role in ushering in Australia’s next generation of netballers. Helping them to love the game and getting the excitement back from them about the game is what Bueta is inspired by.

“I think when I was younger, I used to look up to athletes and just admire them so much,

“I just think watching young girls playing the game that you love and how much enjoyment they have and how much they love it and how much they want to improve and how eager they are to learn really motivates me as an athlete so it goes both ways,

“I think it’s such an important part of the game is growing it from grassroots up and I think netball has really done a good job of that.

“I think it’s done an incredible job, Kayo and Fox Sports have done well to get to as many tvs of Australians and internationally as they can, I think it’s definitely taken a step up this year which is really exciting.”

The deal between Netball Australia and Kayo and Fox Sports has been instrumental in getting the game into more Australian households. Having free netball on Sunday as well as no ad-breaks in play has made it a popular sport to watch and more accessible for families.

Gretel Bueta celebrates the win over the Thunderbirds
Gretel Bueta celebrates the win. (Credit: Queensland Firebirds)

When discussing her idols within the game when she started at the Firebirds, it was very apparent that the great Australian keeper Laura Geitz was not only a mentor but a great friend.

Geitz started at the Firebirds in 2008 and played with Bueta at the Firebirds and Diamonds although at the opposite end of the court. They remain great friends through netball retirement, motherhood and life.

“Laura Geitz, a fellow Queenslander, I remember when I was playing basketball I used to look up to her as a netball athlete and then being able to play alongside her at Firebirds,”

“She was just the most incredible human inside and out, she’s my go-to woman, I’m so lucky to call her a dear friend and really close friend now,

“[We are] sharing motherhood and the journey, I learnt off her when she travelled with Barney and came back after having him, she’s just the most beautiful person and also just such an awesome mentor as well.”

Within the Suncorp Super Netball league, Bueta has excelled, winning many individual accolades including being in the team of the year twice and winning an ANZ Championship. Despite this, her efforts are always to deliver more team success and another championship.

“[Championships are] what we’ve been chasing ever since and I think the culture at the club, we are doing everything we can to improve our game compared to how we started the season,

“I think that it shows that we have all stuck together, we haven’t come out of the games on the better side I suppose and having won and after four losses you could easily fall apart as a team but that’s certainly not the feeling at the club,

“We’ve definitely really stuck tough together and we’re putting in 110% effort in at training we’ve had chats and everyone’s really keen on ways that they can improve.”

This season has been tough on the Firebirds, after a decent start to the season was lost with a form slump in the middle costing them four wins. Bueta says they regrouped and stuck together to get back on track.

The Firebirds showed they had more to offer winning against the West Coast Fever in emphatic fashion to keep their finals hopes alive in round 12. Despite losing the game on the weekend against GIANTS Netball, they are still a chance for the top four if they win the last regular season game.

The Queensland Firebirds. (Photo: Queensland Firebirds)

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