Nelson College for Girls goal shoot Tali Uia on the pathway to Tactix

Tactix player Zoe Walker, left with Nelson College for Girls student Tali Uia, who has been selected in the Pathway to ...
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Tactix player Zoe Walker, left with Nelson College for Girls student Tali Uia, who has been selected in the Pathway to Tactix programme.

Zoe Walker doesn't want to be the last netball player from Nelson to play for the Tactix.

Since making her debut in 2013, the former Waimea College student has amassed more than 50 caps and continues to push towards her ultimate goal of representing New Zealand on the international stage.

But when looking back on her time at Waimea, Walker admits that she never thought reaching the ANZ Premiership was even possible.

Yeah, she knew Shannon Francois had emerged from Motueka and would later become a Silver Fern, but it wasn't until she moved to Dunedin for university that Walker's netball career started to flourish.

"It never really occurred to me until I left Nelson that it was an option, that there was a realistic pathway for me," the defender said.

Walker is back in Nelson for Sunday's game against the Northern Mystics at the Trafalgar Centre. She said there are many reasons why she enjoys coming home, and playing in front of friends and family is no doubt high on the list.

But another reasons is to show to the girls in her hometown - like Nelson College for Girls student Tali Uia - that it is possible to make a career out of the sport.

Uia, a 17-year-old goal shoot who scored 71 goals against Waimea on Thursday, is one of six up and coming players from the Mainland Netball Zone to be selected in the Pathway to Tactix programme.

Uia said her dream is to make a career out of netball and Walker wants to see ambitious Nelson talent like that joining her in the Tactix in the future.

"I think it's something we can emphasis more, which is what is really good with this Pathway to Tactix programme now. Tali is really lucky to witness what it's like to be at that next level, and to see that it's not really far away.

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"It's such a realistic goal, but when I was at school you might say something like 'I want to be in the Silver Ferns and I want to play in the ANZ' but you didn't understand how you could get there."

As well as receiving expert advice throughout the year, Uia will also join Mainland's Beko League team as their apprentice of the day on Sunday, giving her a chance to get a first hand glimpse into netball at the next level.

 - Stuff

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