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20 years is nowhere near plenty – Geva Mentor still at the top of the game after two decades

Geva Mentor played her way into the history books last weekend playing her 200th National League game in Australia for the Collingwood Magpies.

It seemed only fitting that this momentous occasion saw Mentor facing her long-standing England Roses teammate, Jo Harten as the Magpies took on GIANTS Netball.

Leading up to the game, Mentor spoke with The Netball Show about her milestone and how lucky she was to be able to play in front of a home crowd.

“With so much uncertainty in being on the road, we are delighted to actually have a full week here in Melbourne to train and then be able to play in front of our home crowd,” she said to Netball Scoop before relocations struck SSN once more.

“For us, it is about the intent. The intent is to not just turn up on (game day) but make sure every session that we are doing in the lead up we are preparing, and we stick to the game plan.”

Unfortunately, the Magpies did not take away the win, going down to the Giants 58-49. Yet nothing could taint the celebration of this legend’s 200th game, which coincidentally fell on the 20-year anniversary of her first international test for the England Roses.

“Suddenly, I look back, and 20 years have passed,” Mentor said to the Netball Scoop.

“I’m obviously very grateful to be in this position and very grateful for the people I have met along the way.

“For me, that’s what’s kept me I guess, along in my longevity within the sport.”

Mentor debuted for the England Roses at the tender age of 16 in an away match against the New Zealand Silver Ferns. With this achievement, she joins 12 other athletes on the legendary leader board.

This leader board contains some of Australia and New Zealand’s best, including Nat Medhurst, Cath Cox and Laura Langman.

 If this wasn’t impressive enough already, Mentor has only missed one domestic match in all 14 years played down under.

“It’s probably only been this week that I’ve started to really think about it, and I think that’s probably a testament to the fact that every year I’ve stepped out, there have been new challenges along the way,” Mentor said.

She has become renowned for this fierce competitive spirit even as a junior in Bournemouth, UK. 

Coupled with the athletic physique inherited from her father, She has become the phenomenal netball player that we see out on court today.

At the start of her domestic career in the UK Superleague with Team Bath, Mentor used to travel hours in a week just to attend training and match days.

Her commitment to the sport paid off in 2001 when she was afforded the opportunity to sit on the bench for the England Roses and given her first international cap against a legend of the game, Irene van Dyke.

Since July 11 2001, Mentor has competed at five Commonwealth Games, five Netball World Cups, and in 14 seasons of the ANZ Championship/Suncorp Super Netball.  

Arguably, she is most notably known in England for her part in the history-making Commonwealth gold medal-winning team on the Gold Coast in 2018.

In domestic leagues, she has picked up six titles across the UK and Australia and captained her team to three of them.  

Her leadership is clear, and she has often commented that her style is to lead by example.

Mentor has previously captained the Roses, the Sunshine Coast Lightning and most recently, the Collingwood Magpies.

It is clear that holding the team to the same standards and values that she holds herself to, is something that is deeply sought after when selecting a captain.

Team accolades and performances aside, Mentor is also known for being one of the best ambassadors for netball off of the court.

In 2019, her efforts were recognised, and she was inducted as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to netball.

She uses her platform to speak up about prevalent issues in women’s sport and is a presence that is much needed in sport as a whole.

She opens up conversations around topics from racism, to fertility issues and encourages discussion on such significant matters.

For the entire time she has been in Australia, Mentor has contributed to many programs and positively influenced her community, including giving up her days off to ‘coach’ a Bushfire Relief Match in February 2020.

Geva Mentor at the Spotswood Football Netball Bushfire Match in Feb 2020.

“I think as an athlete you’ve always got to be evolving. You’re going to make sure that you believe in who you are, and then you can voice your opinion and at the end of the day, for me, it’s all about inspiring and empowering,” Mentor commented.

Following the disappointing loss, in true Mentor style, she shared heartwarming images of the match with a comment to thank teammates, friends and family for helping her get to the milestone.

“For me, I think the most exciting thing, the important thing is that I’ve had some amazing connections along the journey with teammates and coaches and I think that’s what kept me going for so long,” Mentor said.

Her Instagram post continued this message, emphasising her gratitude to all the people who have helped her get to this momentous game.

Of course, the best part about that message was to read that she isn’t done just yet.

Here’s to hoping we see many more games with Mentor ruling the court.

We would like to thank Netball Scoop and The Netball Show for providing us with access to Mentor’s interview.

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