22/05/2024

Kelsey and Madi Browne in their time at Collingwood Netball together (Picture: Collingwood Netball/Twitter, Design by Madeline Irwin)

Celebrating 100 national league games this weekend, Collingwood Netball midcourter Kelsey Browne has had a career that started out alongside her sister older Madi, however she has emerged as a star player in her own right.

Having an age gap of four years, Madi and Kelsey Browne never played netball together coming through the netball pathways. In total, they only managed seven games for Collingwood in 2019, something that they are genuinely grateful for despite the duration.

Madi Browne spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum on the ‘Here If You Need-Netball Podcast’ about her relationship with sister Kelsey and their seven games at Collingwood Netball.

Listen to the whole interview with Madi Browne on the Special Edition episode of ‘Here If You Need- Netball Podcast’ below.

Getting her start in professional netball at the Melbourne Vixens in 2015, Kelsey was initially a replacement player. When Madi suffered the first ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear of her career, it was Kelsey who was the replacement player who took her spot.

Madi explained how the four year age gap was a silver lining, although they didn’t play much together, they were able to be individual athletes and establish themselves as netballers on their own.

“The first time we got to play was in practice matches, [it] was at Vixens when she was a training partner,” Madi told The Inner Sanctum.

“The most time we got together was in games playing for Collingwood [in 2019] in the centre and her in wing attack before I hurt myself again so we have not actually played a lot [together].

“I know a lot of people were like ‘gosh it would be great’ and it would have been awesome to play many, many years but the four years apart allowed us to be our own people and be on our own teams in our own right and not rely on being a duo.

“I would say that she’s made everything on her own terms and same with me because of that gap which is kind of exciting. She had a totally different journey and definitely made it on her own terms than off my back.”

https://twitter.com/collingwoodsn/status/1654048218907574278

During one of the toughest times in Kelsey’s career, it was her sister Madi who was there to guide her through her ACL rehab having been there herself.

“To see Kels go through it as well, I was at home and I actually watched it on tv, and I just felt like helpless [and] sick to my core,” she said.

“I’d obviously done it at the start of 2019 and then she did it, she did hers at the end, it had obviously been awesome to watch her play at the world cup before it happened and see her do that, but [it] was absolutely devastating but to see her go through that.

“I was like yes I’ve been through that but I’ve know that every single person that does a knee [injury] it is different, everyone’s journey is really different.

“You can rely and talk to other people, but you might not get swelling in certain areas and your pain might be different, yes there’s the certain step-by-step process in your rehab but if you want to call on people you can call on people if you don’t that’s fine too.

“I kind of said to Kels, I’m hear if you need but also here if you don’t.”

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Choosing to go away to Byron Bay as a circuit-breaker when the pair were injured served as a turning point for Kelsey. Madi spoke candidly about the trip and the advice that she gave her sister that spring-boarded her recovery process.

“We were [in Byron Bay] on holidays and she’d had surgery, I don’t know how long it had been after surgery but she had not been making much progress,” Madi explained.

“We sat there and I said ‘tomorrow we are getting up and we are walking to the lighthouse, and she said ‘I can’t do that’ and I said ‘I guarantee you can and we are going to go do it’ and she’s like ‘what do you mean’ and I just said ‘we are just going to do and do it’.

“I remember sitting there by the pool [and] I thought I’ll write this schedule and this is exactly what you need to be doing. You just need a bit of structure here and there and put a plan of attack in and pretty much after that trip she went boom.

“We walked to the lighthouse and I remember her getting up those stairs, and I’ve still got footage of it and she’s like ‘argh’, and I’m like ‘it’s fine, you are good,’ she was probably like ‘shut up, I hate you’, but we got to the lighthouse, that was probably the start for her.”

When both Madi and Kelsey had recovered from their respective ACL tears and returned to the court in 2020, it was a dream come true. Taking to Nissan Arena during the COVID-era of the Suncorp Super Netball, the teams were in hubs playing away from most of their family and friends who were in lockdown.

Madi detailed the experience playing together, underscored by the harsh reality that their parents were not able to be there in person.

“I remember standing in that centre circle looking down at her and it was kind of like we looked at each other in the eyes and it was this kind of look and cheeky smile like holy shit baby, this is it, this is so cool,” she said.

“Before that, we were just training in our gym doing rehab during lockdown so it was kind of like wow, this is a pinch me moment, we are actually going to do it and it’s going to be both of us as actual contracted players, not replacements.

“I know people say gold medals, but if I do think about how it felt to me and what it meant to me, honestly it’s the greatest achievement that I got to do in my netballing career [is to play with Kelsey].

“The one thing that was missing from both of us was our parents actually getting to physically be there and see it, obviously because of COVID so that’s probably the biggest disappointment.

“They literally flew around everywhere when she played for [the] Lightning and I played for [the] Magpies, they would fly 42 flights a year just getting to all of our games, just to see everything. They were everywhere so it was pretty heartbreaking to not have them there in that moment.”

She then recalled a particular disagreement that they had at training one day, as sisters this typified both their bond but also the communication style that worked for them.

“There was a few times where at training when we first started, when we were playing at Collingwood and we had a few little tiffs,” Madi said.

“We were [doing a] ball handling [drill] and there was one time where it took us forever to nail it. I said ‘nah we are going to go again’, and she kept putting me out of the extension, she was like ‘yeah’ and I was like ‘keep going’.

“I would get frustrated and would say ‘don’t put it out that far’ and she would say ‘you can get it, you can get it’.

“We stop doing this drill one time and we sat on the bench and everyone was like is everything okay and we were just like, yeah we need five minutes, we just need five minutes to cool off and we will go out and do it.

“[I think] they [thought] ‘oh my goodness, wow, they are going to have an absolute all-out brawl fight’, next minute we got out there and nailed it the first time.”

“There is certain times I could deliver a message to her and she could deliver a message to me and I’m not going to take it personally, would I speak like that to a teammate, probably not but I needed to get messages across and that’s also our relationship. We are strong enough and we’ve got a good enough bond to do that.”

https://twitter.com/collingwoodsn/status/1648234918173097986

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