Lachlan Paolo hopes being able to raise $2000 in less than a week will take pressure off as he prepares to play for the Australian men's netball team in New Zealand this month.
Paolo has spent every fortnight making road trips from Canberra to Sydney to prepare for the tour, while also finding ways to fund his entire trans-Tasman trip with some smart thinking.
The 20-year-old ACT Griffins netballer has been selected for the Australian under-20s team to face New Zealand in a three-game series next month.
Paolo is the only Canberra player picked in the Australian national sides - including the senior men's, under-23s, under-20s, and mixed teams, forcing him to travel interstate on a regular basis to fulfil his dream.
Every second Sunday since July, Paolo has travelled to Sydney to train with the NSW-based Australian representatives.
"Being the only ACT athlete travelling in the Australian team has been tough. Making the trip to Sydney every fortnight isn't easy," Paolo said.
But he says the sacrifice and long hours on the road have been worth it after being able to improve his game.
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"The NSW players are on another level and the coaching there is incredible," Paolo said.
The catch for the trip is athletes have to pay their own way, which forced Paolo to find ways to raise enough money to cover his costs.
"I set this [GoFundMe page] up a week ago, and I've managed to get the whole trip covered now, that felt really good," Paolo said.
"There was also a Canberra Netball Association barbecue, I was lucky that they did this. They raised a fair bit of money for me which was amazing. I really enjoy the netball culture in the ACT."
He attended a camp in Queensland recently which was a chance to train with his teammates, and get to know the coaches and other teams travelling next month.
"It was a really good experience for me to experience all the other talent in Australia. Getting exposed to all the different playing styles was really valuable," Paolo said.
"Some of these guys have been playing since they were seven or eight, so I was able to learn from their experience. Overall I had a really good camp," Paolo said.
Paolo only began playing netball in 2019, making the switch after playing basketball as a junior.
"The last couple years have been really cool. I started off as a rookie but I knew the rules from watching my mum play. Luckily the transition from basketball to netball was pretty easy for me," Paolo said.
Paolo finally got to compete at a national championships in April this year, after being denied the opportunity in the two years prior because of COVID-19 cancellations.
He joked that a position change this year was a potential blessing in disguise when it came to his selection for the Australia squad.
"I definitely didn't think I was going to get picked. I only started wing attack at the start of the year and used to play as goal shooter or goal attack, but I guess it was a good change," Paolo said.
Paolo hopes that one day men's netball will be a part of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games roster, as his dream is to represent Australia on the world stage.
"I hope one day men's netball is in the Olympics or Commonwealth games. My end goal would be to play in either of those, but we will see what the future holds for me," Paolo said.
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