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Newcastle Indigenous netballer Aspires to make artistic mark

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When the Super Netball League continues its First Nations round this weekend, there’ll be one certain Newcastle sportswoman filled with pride.

Retired Australian star Sam Poolman played a major role in Krystal Dallinger’s artistic journey, with the help of a Home in Place initiative.

And, now, the youngster is front and centre of the special Indigenous matches in the national competition after designing the league’s artwork, titled Gather as One, featuring an emu, goanna and kangaroo to represent past Elders, and present and emerging leaders.

It will be showcased with a custom match ball, umpire uniforms and centre circle design. 

Homegrown netball star Sam Poolman at the Lunch for the Stars function. Photo: Rod Thompson

The story of Dallinger’s artwork also ties into the 2023 Reconciliation Week theme of Be a Voice for Generations, encouraging all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in their everyday lives. 

A talented netballer herself, the Gamilaroi woman moved to Newcastle with her mum in 2017 so she could pursue her sporting passion.

Not long after, aided by Home in Place’s Grow A Star scholarship, she was identified by the Hunter Academy of Sport and then Poolman’s Aspire Netball program.

But, Dallinger suffered a nasty ankle injury, ended up in a moon boot, and used her spare time dabbling in painting.

After spending some months off the court, she was so appreciative to be still included by Poolman in the Aspire program, she designed and painted a hat for her as a thank you gift.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Krystal Dallinger’s artwork, which will be featured in the Super Netball League First Nations round.

“We first crossed paths back in 2018,” Poolman said.

“Krystal was one of my original Aspire athletes, funded by Grow A Star.

“That opportunity allowed her to do my program.

“And, from there, everything’s blossomed.

“I was stunned by her talent.

“At the time, my former club (GIANTS) were looking for a designer for the Super Netball Indigenous round.

“So, I went directly to them and told them about Krystal’s incredible talent – and to take a chance on her.

“Thankfully, they did.

“She’s now been creating their Indigenous artwork for the past six years.”

Australian netballer Sam Poolman and Newcastle Knights legend Danny Buderus with MC Garth Rusell at the Lunch for the Stars function. Photo: Rod Thompson

Poolman said she was incredibly proud of Dallinger’s odyssey, praising Home in Place in the process.

“Look what Krystal’s doing… designing the entire artwork for the Super Netball League’s First Nations round,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“She’s certainly gained incredible opportunities, especially after Grow A Star gave her a scholarship [back then].

“That’s my connection with them, too.

“Witnessing their funding and support was really something.

“It allowed Krystal to take part in a program that offered her a chance to change her life.”

People wishing to apply for scholarships or businesses, individuals and organisations keen to support the program should visit www.growastar.org.

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