On Tuesday, two rising stars will show their ANZAC Spirit as both Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning take to the court and field on ANZAC Day, a day that holds extra significance to Charlie Bell and Will Warbrick.
While it’s an honour in itself to play on the day, the connection runs even deeper for those like Lightning goal shooter Bell and Storm winger Warbrick, both players with family that have, and continue to serve.
As players, both are finding their way in the top flight during their rookie season, and Bell says she feels honoured to be lining up with her team for the Suncorp Super Netball’s inaugural ANZAC Day match on Tuesday, marking a historical game for both teams.
I feel exceptionally honoured to be part of SSN’s inaugural ANZAC Day match.Charlie Bell
"To have this opportunity to speak about how much this day means to my family and I, but also being out on court and having a childhood dream be my reality is something really special and I know my relatives are/would be very proud of me.” she said.
Likewise, Storm first year player Warbrick will also line-up for his inaugural ANZAC Day game, admitting it will be hard to keep the emotions at bay.
“It gets everyone quite emotional about everything, so it'll be a bit different going through all of that...I'll have to talk to a couple of boys of sort of managing the nerves and the adrenaline,” he shared.
“I think it's important to treat it like a big game and give it the respect that deserves; prepare well and most importantly, I'm just going to try to remain present throughout the ceremonies beforehand and then leading into the game.”
Emerging netball star Bell has a strong personal bearing to the day, with several family members serving over the years. Her father, Sergeant David Bell served 15 years in Army reserve infantry unit and her uncle, Private Robert Bell served three years in Army reserve infantry units. Her grandfather, great grandfather and step grandfather also served.
“ANZAC Day is a very important day to me as it holds a lot of family significance on both my mum and dad’s side. Ever since I remember, my sisters and I have attended dawn services to pay our respects to those that gave their lives so we can live in freedom,” she said.
With over ten family members having served throughout the years, Will also shares the tie to service runs so deep, he tried applying to the New Zealand Air Force in case a career in rugby league didn’t work out.
“I'm actually named after one of my sort of great grand uncles David Poihipi Warbrick. He served in World War Two,”
“I've got a few other family members that also are part of the army and Navy back home. So, there's a lot of uncles and connections there.
“My neighbour growing up, which is my dad's aunt, my grandfather's sister, her partner, he served for New Zealand. Then he fought in the Malayan Wars, if I remember correctly, he served 10 years there.
I've spoken to him a bit about it and knowing how important it is to him. He went to every dawn service and stuff like that so, it's pretty important to all of us.Will Warbrick
While the day carries added significance for the two athletes, both Bell and Warbrick share the attitude of wanting to put their best foot forward on the day, honouring their family in the way they know best.
“Dad always preached the ANZAC values to my sisters and I, and I think I’ve definitely translated those values into my attitude towards sport, especially a team sport like netball where I get to work with my friends to achieve a common goal.
So, I think that’s why I hold ANZAC Day so close to my heart.” Bell explained.
“I'm still going to play a game, but I think, in the morning for the day, I've got my parents coming over to watch the game as well, so I'm going to try to spend time with them,” Will added.
“I was just talking to them the other night and they actually got emotional thinking back about all the family we've had that served and actually fought and tragically have passed away in battle, so I think it's going to be a pretty emotional day and night.”
Lightning will kick off the day’s events as they take on the Collingwood Magpies at John Cain Arena at 1pm.
Then, Storm take on the New Zealand Warriors in their annual ANZAC Round clash at AAMI Park at 7pm, representing the two countries who served alongside each other.