Nelson's Zoe Walker lines up against Irene van Dyk during Sunday night's ANZ Championship match at the Trafalgar Centre. Insert: Zoe grabs a rebound for the Tactix. Photos: Phillip Rollo.

Big crowd for top netball


You could forgive Zoe Walker for wanting to pinch herself. Lining up against the defending champions the Kia Magic, marking Silver Fern legend Irene van Dyk and playing in front of a capacity crowd, the former Waimea College student really was living her dream in the Trafalgar Centre on Sunday night.
But while the 69-46 scoreline will be one to forget, there is no doubting the moment will be one to remember for the 19 year old Easiyo Tactix defender. “It was awesome especially in front of the home crowd and being the first game against the Magic. It was a real honour,” she says. “This was something that I was aiming for after college, maybe in like five years time. It’s come pretty soon.”
Zoe had played against Irene at a New Zealand Under-21 training camp but was still clearly a little starstruck, especially looking across the court to see a host of other Silver Ferns including captain Casey Kopua, Laura Langman, Leana de Bruin and Julianna Naoupu. “Irene is really lovely, she says hi at the beginning of the game and she doesn’t talk any smack. As soon as she’s under the post you know she’s not going to miss and then if she does her rebounding is just awesome so it’s pretty hard.”
This was the first time the ANZ Championship had been held in Nelson and while organisers will be happy with the capacity crowd of 1500, it was substantially lower than the 4000 fans that regularly show up in Christchurch. However, Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs hoped those in attendance enjoyed the rare the opportunity to witness first-class netball. “You saw last year’s champion team on show and they certainly made us work hard and I think we made them work hard too.”
When questioned about Zoe’s start, she said it was thoroughly deserved. “Over the game Zoe was learning how to change things up but I think she did well as a 19 year old.”
Zoe was used in two defensive positions throughout the game with the GK bib being swapped for a GD one in the third quarter, although her debut was cut short with a muscle strain restricting her to a spectator role in the fourth.
The Easiyo Tactix now head back to Christchurch for the weekend’s matchup against the Southern Steel, although the side is scheduled to return on May 19 to play the West Coast Fever.