Collingwood Magpies captain Geva Mentor will notch up 200 games this weekend against the Giants.
Mentor has played her previous 199 games across four clubs, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens, Sunshine Coast Lightning and now the Magpies.
Upon reflection, Mentor said it was the connections she’s made along the way that has kept her going.
“It’s probably only been this week that I’ve only started to think about it,” she said.
“The most exciting thing and the most important thing is I’ve had some amazing connections along the journey with teammates and coaches, and I think that’s what’s kept me going for so long.
“Suddenly I look back and twenty years has passed and now it’s my 200th game so for me, I’m very grateful.
“I’m grateful to be in this position and to play out my 200th game but very grateful to the people I’ve met along the way and that’s what’s kept me with my longevity in the sport.”
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After spending twenty years at the elite level, there are always things that you learn along the journey. For Mentor, it is no different, and has been a key part of the experience.
“I think when you’ve been in the sport for a decade, you definitely pick up on things and one thing I’ve learnt is that you’re not set in stone,” she explained.
“You’ve always got to be evolving and always got to be adapting. Setting up a starter club with Lightning and having success there and then coming to a club like Collingwood, where it’s a new netball program, so looking at building culture and success as well.
“I think for me the thing that I’ve learnt is stay true to yourself, you’ve got to make sure that you believe in who you are and then you can voice your opinion.
“At the end of the day it’s all about inspiring and empowering and not just those around me, those that I can touch further afield as well.”
Mentor isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon, with next year’s Commonwealth Games in site with the English Roses.
“The body doesn’t feel too bad! About five or so years ago I had a bit of wear and tear in the knees, but they’re pretty good, my back’s been playing up a little bit but that’s just tall people problems.
“Once I get a good preseason under my belt again post this season, I’m really looking forward to having some solid couple of years with Collingwood and then building towards the Commonwealth Games next year, and the World Cup the year after with England Netball.
“In 2018, coming home with that gold medal for the Commonwealth Games was finally a tick box there.
“To go where no England team has gone before and to be able to go back to back for Commonwealth Games, and to be able to get into a gold medal final in the World Cup are still on my agenda.”
As well as her 200th match, Sunday will mark 20 years to the day since Mentor’s first international cap.
“Made my international debut on the 11th of July 2001 and 20 years to the date I’m making my 200th game appearance at elite level which is quite uncanny and pretty bizarre.
“There was probably a lot of nerves in there and a lot of unknown. [I] legit just stepped out on court and [was] fortunate enough we had a very vocal backline. They were sort of talking to me all the way through.”
“I was just up and about, and it’s funny to just see footage because I definitely look like Bambi out there! I’m very energetic and I’m just bouncing around.
“It’s one of those things when you step out on court and people don’t know what you’re going to deliver or achieve. I was able to get out there and and put a hand in our medal in a few plays down court.”
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