Tenacious Elle gets her shot
MAKING an Australian representative team in any sport is considered a remarkable achievement.
However, when you can earn national selection after coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, it's even more rewarding.
Collingwood Park's Elle Raeli recently returned from Adelaide where she helped her Queensland team secure the 16-and-under mixed Indoor Netball Junior National Championships (INJNC).
Elle starred in Queensland Flames' victory over Queensland Wildfire in the grand final to be one of seven Queenslanders named in the national team to tour New Zealand this year.
While Elle savoured the team's success, the 16-year-old also reflected on overcoming her personal challenges.
In 2014, the Ipswich Girls Grammar School student had to endure six months of rehabilitation after tearing the meniscus in her knee.
"Coming back from injury, all that was going through my head was if I would be able to get back on the court again," she said.
Elle damaged her knee while playing in the Vicki Wilson Cup, but she refused to let the setback end her hopes of representing Australia.
She first tested her knee at the 2014 INJNC, but a lack of match practice cruelled her chances of a national call up.
Hearing she missed selection hurt, but Elle is a fighter.
She spent the next 12 months working hard to regain her peak fitness for last month's INJNC in Adelaide where the latest national teams were chosen.
Elle's strength, vision and versatility stood out at the week-long tournament.
But it was her fighting spirit, so evident throughout the national championships, which impressed selectors.
"In the second game my knee moved and the whole day I had to ice it and couldn't move it," Elle said.
"I didn't want to use my knee as an excuse so I kept pushing myself and my confidence continued to grow by the week and my performances got better.
"I was so happy I didn't sit on the bench and blame my knee because now I get to realise my dream of playing for Australia."
Elle took up netball at an early age and plays as a shooter for St Joseph's at Western Districts Netball Association.
Having shown her promise playing indoor netball at Beenleigh, Elle hopes to one day start her representative career in the outdoor game as well.
"I'm looking forward to going to New Zealand and learning new things and experience that higher level of netball," she said.
"I think it's what I need to take the next step in outdoor netball as well."