As an 18-month old, former Australian Diamond Madi Browne was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, this coupled with her family’s love of sport, led her to become the athlete she was before retiring from professional netball in 2020.
One of the most successful netball players recently, Madi Browne was lured into the game after a diagnosis as a young child. Her parents made it their mission to keep her active to ensure she would stay medication free, this was no problem however as Browne undertook every endeavour possible.
Madi Browne spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum on the ‘Here If You Need-Netball Podcast’ about her career and her start to life.
Listen to the whole interview with Madi Browne on the Special Edition episode of ‘Here If You Need- Netball Podcast’ below.
“Sport was a huge part of our life [but] the reason it was part of mine was at 18 months old I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in my right knee,” Browne told The Inner Sanctum.
“[The doctors] said she will have to be active or she will be on medication and my mum and dad were like ‘nope, movement will be her medication’. They took me down that road so I literally did and played everything, athletics, swimming, basketball, dancing, singing, you name it, I tried it.
“I think I was a really active kid as well, I obviously loved meeting people and making new friends so that kind of kept me occupied until Kelsey came along and then I had a friend to play with.
When looking at her family as a whole, there is no wonder that both Madi and her younger sister have made it in elite netball, the support of their parents was evident through Browne’s explanation as to why she chose to play sport.
“[My] dad [Mark] played AFL footy and mum played local netball but then she had two daughters who played netball for Australia so she’s not the greatest sporting athlete in our family and we make note of that to her,” she said.
“We say probably [a] majority of our ability we got from dad [who] I think [played] about 87 or 89 games for Geelong in the VFL. He also was a really good cricketer [and] a really good swimmer.
“We always joke ‘Kels’ and I do, that if we were boys then he would screwed us over [being] 11 games [short of the] the Father-Son [rule] so [it] was like he was betting he had daughters who would be good enough on our own.”
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In the days where netball contracts either didn’t really exist or paid very little, Browne was making her way through the netball pathways in Victoria. When asked about her first contract, she recalled her first game as a Melbourne Kestrels player lining up on Diamonds mid-courter Selina Hornibrook (née Gilsenan).
“The first [contract], and a lot of people wouldn’t know [but] a lot of netty nerds really know these stories, but there was no sign-on fee [and] it was $200 a game. You had to play [to get paid] and we were a squad of 16 back then, they would each week pick a team of 12 that would go and play,” Browne explained.
“The first ever game that I played for the Kestrels we were at the state netball hockey centre playing the NSW Swifts and Liz Ellis was in goalkeeper. It was half time and Jane Searle, the Kestrels coach turns to me and [says] Madi ‘you are going onto wing attack’.
“I [said] ‘against Selina Gilsenan, the wing defence for the Diamonds or Australia’, and she’s like ‘yeah’ and then she’s like ‘do you want to be here or not’ and I’m like ‘yeah yeah’.
“I remember going on and the first pass I ever took was like I didn’t even take it because I drove to the post and Liz Ellis came out and cleaned me up an absolute ripper and it was like welcome to the big leagues.”Embed from Getty Images
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