Donnell Wallam’s Aunty Lesley jubilant after niece secures one-point win for Diamonds against England

Donnell Wallam’s aunty cried so much after watching her niece sink the match-winning goal for Australia, she needed a bath towel to dry her eyes.

Speaking from Binjareb country in Western Australia’s South West, Noongar elder Lesley Ugle was teary when asked about her niece’s outstanding Australian Diamonds netball debut.

All eyes were on the Diamonds shooter after she was left at the centre of a dispute with mining magnate Gina Rinehart that resulted in netball’s peak body losing a $15 million sponsorship deal.

In the aftermath, Wallam was subjected to a barrage of racist abuse on social media, only to silence the critics with a spectacular lay-up that secured the Diamonds’ 55-54 win.

Ms Ugle said she had replayed Wallam’s heroic goal at least 10 to 20 times.

“Look at that, that’s just Donnell,” Ms Ugle said when rewatching the last few moments of the game with the ABC.

“It’s always in her play, she’s always done that, she’s done it down here on the Harvey courts playing with the Harvey Bulls. We knew she was going to do something like that.”

She said it looked much like a basketball move because Wallam came from a long line of talented local basketballers who had turned to netball.

Ms Ugle said the moments after Wallam’s goal were more than a celebration, labelling it “Dreamtime”.

“It’s something that you can’t say too many words about, but the whole nation saw what we were feeling,” she said.

“It’s just a heartwarming moment and coming from our little town of Harvey, there’s another heartbeat beating loudly for us.”

Box of tissues didn’t cut it
Ms Ugle said the family did not watch the game together because they valued their hearing.

“We had to have our own space; for me a box of tissues wasn’t good enough, I had to bring a bath towel in because I was crying all the way through it,” she said.

The Harvey [Korijekup] elder said her niece did not shy away from the challenge or show any nerves once she stepped onto the court.

“I’m so very, very proud, as any parent, aunty, uncle would be proud. We’re all so proud, we have to go back into our language to express what we feel about her,” she said.

“Moorditj yorga. Deadly woman.”

Role model for local kids
Ms Ugle said Wallam was a positive role model for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the South West — where her family has strong ties with the community — and also across the nation.

She recalled how kids in Harvey had flocked to meet Wallam on a recent visit home.

“Can you imagine them doing their lay-ups now, knowing that their dreams can come true,” she said.

She even joked about how the kids would be “doing the Wallam” at netball and basketball practice.

Ms Ugle said Wallam would be visiting her home country soon.

But she said the mob would not have any big parades or parties to celebrate their homegrown hero, because Wallam was too humble and down-to-earth and would not like the attention.

Ms Ugle said they would probably just settle for a barbecue.

“Home is where the heart is,” she said.

She also had a special message for Wallam: “Hold your head up high and we will see you when you come home.”