World Netball has announced Director of Sports and PE teacher, Sara Donovan as its official Courage Ambassador, following a worldwide search for an inspiring candidate.
The search began in June 2021 as part of the Federations rebrand to World Netball and launch of its ‘Your Netball World’ campaign which saw over 350 nominations for the Courage Ambassador role.
The judges were overwhelmed by the number of entries received for Sara, each showing that she embodies courage, bravery, decisiveness, and perseverance.
The Essex-born netballer moved to the UAE in 2009 with the aim of raising female sports profile, and by 2015 she was the chair of the Dubai Netball League which she has now helped to increase the membership to almost 300 women.
However, Sara’s journey to grow netball hasn’t been easy as at the age of just 39 she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, not long after she had been selected for the first-ever UAE netball team.
Not letting her diagnosis stand in her way, Sara began chemotherapy in January 2018 and went on to play for the UAE team in the Netball Europe Open Championship in Gibraltar in May, where she was the starting shooter in the competition scoring almost 200 goals in four games leading to her team making history and bringing home the bronze.
In total, Sara has now had 16 sessions of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, 25 sessions of radiotherapy and reconstructive surgery, and has remained playing, coaching, and teaching throughout.
In recognition of her embodiment of the core World Netball value, Courage, Sara will now stand alongside a team of world class fellow ambassadors including athletes, officials and sporting figures as World Netball’s Courage Ambassador, and will have a role to play at the Netball World Cup 2023, South Africa.
Sara said: “It is a huge honour to have been selected as World Netball’s Courage Ambassador.
“I have my close friends and netball family to thank for my nomination and feel so grateful to have an amazing network of women that have supported and continue to support me.
“Although I would never think of myself or my actions as courageous, I am delighted to step up as Courage Ambassador.
“Netball is a sport that offers so much to so many but has given me so much more than I can put into words during some challenging times.”
World Netball CEO, Clare Briegal, commented: “Sara is truly an exceptional member of the netball family.
“We’re delighted to welcome Sara as one of our official ambassadors, and we’re really looking forward to working with her.”
You can read the full press release here.