2005 - 2008

When Liz Ellis AM was aged seven a local netball official named Sheila asked Ellis’s mother whether she thought her daughter would want to play. The conversation abruptly with Mrs Ellis providing a firm ‘no’ as she noted ‘coordination’ wasn’t one of her daughter’s strongest points. 

Undeterred, Sheila phoned Mrs Ellis the following week because she was determined to see Liz on the court. She started the conversation by saying she’d returned from a conference where it was said 95 percent of juvenile delinquents had never played a team sport. Sheila’s timing was perfect, and the young . . . uncoordinated . . .  Liz was quickly ushered onto the court. It turned out she was in serious trouble for starting a fire in her bedroom a few days before Sheila’s call! 

It was an inglorious beginning to a glorious netball career. Ellis’s feats elevated her to one of the nation’s most recognised – and loved – athletes. She captained the Australian and Sydney Swifts team from the front and with aplomb, and along the way she became the nation’s most capped netballer with 122 appearances. Her litany of achievements tells the story of a remarkable career. 

Ellis won two Commonwealth Games gold medals at Kuala Lumpur and Manchester. Included in her three world championships was the 2007 title which not only afforded her a fairytale retirement after fighting back from a knee reconstruction to reclaim her spot in the Diamonds, but it also allowed Ellis to fulfil her childhood dream of captaining Australia to a world championships victory.  

As skipper of the Sydney Swifts, Ellis led her team to four domestic titles. Adding extra lustre to her legend was receiving Netball Australia’s coveted Most Valuable Player award on four occasions (1996, 1998, 2002 and 2006). 

Liz Ellis’s contribution to netball extends beyond the court. In 1997 she initiated the Liz Ellis Netball Clinics which has coached over 60,000 youngsters. She has appeared on numerous television and radio programs as a sports commentator and has been hailed for her efforts to push for equality in sport.  

In 2009, Ellis became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day honours, and in 2018 was promoted to an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to netball as an elite player and coach, through support and advocacy to young women, as a contributor to the broadcast and print media industries, and the community.