AUSTRALIAN netball legend Sharelle McMahon might have moved away from the area in which she grew up, but retains her love of the Campaspe region.
In Rochester recently for ‘Forbesy’s Last Big Hurrah’, a sportsman’s night which raised money for the Rochester Sports Museum with items donated by local legend John Forbes, McMahon said returning to the area always felt special.
‘‘It just totally feels like home; Mum and Dad still live here in the house that I grew up in,’’ she said.
‘‘The closer I get to home while driving down the highway, it just relaxes me and I’ve always felt incredibly supported throughout my whole career by the community.
‘‘I absolutely love it, I love the country air, even in this room there’s so many people I’ve known and that it’s great to catch up with.’’
One of Australia’s all-time netball greats, McMahon played 118 times for her country after growing up in Bamawm and going to high school in Rochester.
The Rochester Sports Museum has been planned for some time, with Forbes’ donation of a large and personal collection of sporting memorabilia a shot in the arm to the project.
She said being able to support a sporting museum in the Campaspe region would help celebrate the many great athletes the region has produced.
‘‘It’s been started a little while ago but (Forbes’ donation) has just breathed new life into it,’’ McMahon said.
‘‘I think it will be a great space; not just for his collection but for the local clubs.
‘‘It will be a space to recognise the history of sport in this area and it’s such a long, rich history.’’
When McMahon initially left home to chase her netball dreams, the support she felt from Forbes, who worked at Puma as its national sales manager, helped her settle in to her new life.
‘‘Mum and Faye (Forbes’ wife) went to primary school together so our families have had a long history together,’’ McMahon said.
‘‘When I first moved down to Melbourne John was one of the first people that I met through his role with the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport).
‘‘He was incredibly supportive when I moved down to the big smoke which was fairly intimidating; it was nice to have someone my family knew and felt comfortable with.
‘‘Since then he’s been a big part of my life because he’s a great bloke.’’
Now an athlete member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, McMahon said she still feels a connection with the athletes currently battling it out in the local leagues, potentially following in her footsteps.
‘‘I’m lucky that I do some work with WorkSafe and their connection with football and netball leagues means I get to spend some time with the clubs,’’ she said.
‘‘I always feel like a real kindred spirit with them; I’m still a country girl, I really am.’’