Rhianna Barton has been playing basketball for ten years and will represent the Under-18 Girls Country State Side at the School Sport Australia Championships.By Riahn Smith
A love of basketball runs in Rhianna Barton’s family.
Her mum Mary-Ann and sister Rebecca both made their mark on the court and now it’s Rhianna’s turn.
The Notre Dame College Student has been playing basketball for 10 years and still remembers her first competitive game.
‘‘My earliest memory would have to have been my first game when I was about six,’’ she said.
‘‘I was playing under-10s with lots of older girls and I had to fill in and mum kind of just chucked me on the court and said, ‘here you go’. I’ve loved it ever since.’’
After a decade of hard work, Rhianna was selected to represent the Under-18 Girls Country State Side at this year’s School Sport Australia Championships in Melbourne.
‘‘It was exciting to get picked because it was the first nationals I’ve ever been to,’’ Rhianna said.
‘‘Just going there for the week and playing against some of the best in the country .
For her efforts, Rhianna was awarded a $500 Local Sporting Champion grant.
To have her commitment to her sport acknowledged was a welcome bonus, Rhianna said.
‘‘I felt really honoured to know that there was support there and encouragement to pursue dreams, it was a really great feeling.’’
Rhianna is now back in town playing for the Shepparton Gators in the under-18 junior side and the Country Basketball League team.
She spends every day of the week either training or playing across Victoria, including regular trips to Bendigo to participate in Basketball Australia’s national intensive training program, internationally recognised as one of the world’s best junior programs.
‘‘It’s a lot of time but I love it,’’ Rhianna said. ‘‘I don’t have much of a social life any more.
‘‘With school and stuff it can get hard but you find the balance and manage, it’s something you just do.’’
And it’s something she’ll have to do in order to realise her dreams of playing for the Australian women’s team.
Rhianna said the first step of her plan would be to win a scholarship to play college basketball in the United States.
‘‘I would love to go to America once I’ve finished high school here, it (basketball) is just really big over there, it’s huge.’’
But at the end of the day, it’s her passion for the sport, not her ambitions that keep her on the court.
‘‘Where it can take you is really good, but (it’s) just the fact that you’re going out there, doing some physical,’’ Rhianna said.
‘‘I just love sports, (and) to know that you can have a friendly but tough sport that you can play with many different people .
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