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Mitch Purser: Resilience and New-Found Belief

I write this letter to anyone who is doubting themselves or their abilities, and to them I say "never give up on yourself because I guarantee others aren't.

Covid-19 has hindered my journey, but I refuse to give up on this sport, not while I believe in myself, and not while everyone around me still believes in me. Two years have gone by since I have taken the court in Black and Gold, and although my journey grows ever closer to its end, especially with every year going by with no competition, I can not honestly make the decision to quit while my body and mind are still capable. I do not want the last time I took the court for the WCMMNA to be the last time I take the court for the WCMMNA.

"I am stronger, I am smarter, and I am better."

Two years ago, I made the decision to leave the Thunder program. I had been away with the Men's Open team for 4 years back-to-back. Although we did not win any games our first year, it was the start of this journey. My second year felt like a breakout season, I had a great campaign, and I finished that year noticeably confident. From there though, it was all downhill.

In 2018 we had some up and coming players join the team, who challenged me for my spot on court. At the time, naïve me did not consider that my place and position in the team was at risk. I went about my business, coasted through the program, and found myself on the bench in my third year, and by the fourth, I was unfit, unprepared, and mentally checked out of netball. I made a proclamation to the team at the end of the competition that I was

quitting, and that I was done.

What followed was a full year of horrible netball for me, I did not play much in our WANL

competition, I travelled for Indoor Netball to South Africa to wear the green and gold, and yet again I found myself riding the pine more than playing this sport I had been dedicating so much time and energy to. Throughout 2019, negative thoughts plagued my mind;

"You are not fit enough, you are not talented, you are NOT GOOD ENOUGH."

I hit a wall and remember this moment, when I hit rock bottom. Something felt off. I am usually a much brighter person; I pride myself on my spirit. Who was this dark, brooding, sad person I was portraying?

By late 2019 different thoughts were popping into the back of my mind, and I started to question myself, and the choices I made;

‘Am I really done with netball?’, ‘Is this how I want my journey to end?’

I took this as an opportunity to approach my friends, family, peers, and anyone I could think of to get some clarity on how I was feeling. One of these special people said something I will never forget

“Why give up on playing netball, when there will come a moment in your life when you can never play netball again…”

This triggered me, but in the best way possible. I LOVE netball, it has changed my life, so why am I giving it up so easily? I sought guidance and advice, from one final person before deciding on my playing future. From my mentor through my entire journey at West Coast Thunder (WCMMNA), Lorraine Ward. I had a sit-down chat with her, and I was very direct with my question - “Do you think I should play?”. Without any hesitation, and (for those that know her) with absolute confidence, her response was “Yes”. It was unanimous, every single person I had asked had agreed; I should be playing. It took me reaching out to those around me to realize that I was the only person in the world who was having thoughts about not playing, giving up and retiring. I decided that I would never give up on myself again.

Throughout late 2019, talking with those I keep close, I came to understand that my role in the team was not redundant, it has just changed. There was a gap in our team that needed to be filled, and I wanted to be the one to take on that role. New responsibilities, new challenges and new opportunity for growth. I found direction; I needed to up my fitness, shift focus and start learning a new position. I am up to the challenge.

This is it, my new journey. It has been difficult, not just physically, but mentally too. Learning a new position on court is not easy, especially when you are as old as I am, but if I wanted to be on court I needed to soldier on and make it work. Everyone else in the team is backing my

ability, so I must back myself, and here I am today, still figuring it out, but I am fitter, stronger, and more talented than the man that quit netball two years ago. He does not exist.

Although we find ourselves yet again postponing the 2021 AMMNA Championships, I remain positive, and find the silver lining it this dark time. I am going to take this opportunity to continue to grow and to challenge myself while I still can. Whether it is training for nationals, training for WANL, or personal, I will make sure I get the most out of every session, because these opportunities will not be around forever.

"I will never forget that I am good enough and I will play netball until the day I no longer can."

Reach out if you're struggling with belief, or want to chat about your journey I'm only a message or call away!

Love Mitchy (Long Range Specialist)!

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