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Talented Clayden inspired by Perry juggling act

Date

David Polkinghorne

Australian cricket and soccer international Ellyse Perry has struggled to juggle her two sports recently, but that makes her an ideal role model for Arawang netballer Georgia Clayden.

Clayden plays netball for the ACT under 17s and also plays volleyball for Australia, which means she could soon face the same dilemma as Perry - whether to specialise in one sport or try to juggle the two.

The midcourter was invited to a Netball Australia under-17s development camp at the AIS this week but the 16-year-old will also head to Vietnam later this month with the Aussie junior volleyball team.

''When the time comes to make the decision I'll have to make that but the coaches have been really nice about it and really helping me to balance it out, but so far I've been able to balance it,'' Clayden said.

''Hopefully that will keep going but we'll see. It's like Ellyse Perry, she's my idol, balancing her sports.''

The AIS netball camp ran from Thursday to Sunday, with coaches from around Australia putting the girls through three training sessions, as well as three theory sessions, every day. The camp has inspired Clayden and Leigh Kalsbeek, the only two Canberrans invited, to take the next step and break into an Australian squad.

''This has been a real highlight, to just be able to play at this level and meet all the girls playing at this level. It's been great,'' Clayden said.

''There's really talented girls out there and I have to work really hard to make [the Australian squads] but it's one of my hopes. I'm going to work really hard and see if I can get there.''

Last year Keely Rodrigo became the first ACT netballer to make an Australian squad when she was picked in the under 17s after the nationals and she's become an inspiration to Canberra's young netballers. Kalsbeek, a shooter, has come up through the ACT state sides with Clayden, both playing in the ACT schoolgirls before moving up to the under 17s. Now they hope to follow in Rodrigo's footsteps.

''It gives everyone hope that we can all follow her pathway into getting her AIS scholarship and then the Australian selection. I know for myself it gives motivation to keep training hard and it can really happen too, to anyone,'' said Kalsbeek, who plays for Canberra in the local competition.

One of the biggest things she'd taken from the camp was self-belief.

''Because it's been a long camp, mentally being ready to train three or four times a day and getting prepared [has been hard]. This is the first step into where everyone wants to get, mentally it's been great,'' the 16-year-old said. ''…[The camp] just lifts me and my intensity at training and hopefully [I can] bring that back to the ACT so training for ACT can become just as good as here.''

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