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Netball icon Yvonne Willering awarded Life Membership

Netball icon Yvonne Willering has been awarded a Netball New Zealand Life Membership after a lifetime of service to the game in many areas.

The former Silver Ferns coach and New Zealand defender, who holds a NNZ Service Award, became the 33rd Life Member at the NNZ Annual General Meeting in Wellington this month and joins an elite list to receive the award including Sheryl Lady Wells, Dame Lois Muir, Taini Jamison, Kereyn Smith, Dawn Jones, Monica Leggat and Leigh Gibbs.

Willering’s record – from the court, to coaching, administration and media – speaks for itself which has proven a remarkable feat for the Dutch native who arrived in New Zealand as a youngster without a word of English.

She went from a netball novice who, plucked from obscurity as a 15-year-old, made the Auckland Under-21 side in her first year playing.

Since then she has worn the black dress – chosen to play for New Zealand in 1974 where, for the next decade, she stamped her mark as one of the best defenders to wear the Silver Fern – and went on to become the seventh coach of the Silver Ferns (guiding them through 51 Tests).

Willering was also one of the most successful domestic coaches and was at the helm in Auckland when they dominated the national scene with a 10-year winning streak starting in 1983.

In 2002 was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Now she is a more familiar face behind the scenes or on the airwaves with roles in media and as an international coaching advisor.

Her list of achievements is immense but her passion for the game is highlighted by her willingness to still give back to grass roots by empowering other coaches and players to make the game greater.

Willering continues to provide influence, admiration and inspiration to netballers, coaches and fans of netball around the world.