Netball has always been a way of life for Bridget Cassar but the Ovens and Murray star has revealed her appreciation of the sport is even greater since becoming a mother.
The exhilarating feeling of winning a premiership is one thing but it's the simple freedoms of training, playing and spending time with other adults which Cassar and so many others now value more than ever.
"I think I'm a very selfish person but having kids changes all of that," she told The Border Mail Sport Podcast. "It's all about them now.
"For me, it's been really important to have that netball contact because you're at home, keeping the home front running while your husband's at work and you're doing everything for the kids. Everything's about the kids and it's so important for mental health to get out and train with other like-minded Mums.
"It gets you out, interacting with other people and it's good for your health.
"It's made me appreciate netball more."
Growing families inevitably impact netball lists far more than the world of football.
"With our first child, I was coach that year so I trained right up until I had him," Yarrawonga shooter Cassar said.
"I had him midway through the year and I actually came back and played B-grade for the remainder of the season. I put that pressure on myself to do that because I didn't want to miss out, I wanted to be there and I was coaching, so I thought I might as well play.
"Second time around, I probably took the pressure off a little bit and had him at a different time of the year.
"It is easier for men because they're not the ones that have to go through it.
"For women, it's really important to do things for themselves. It is hard work but we've got a lot of women around the club that are happy they've come back after having babies.
"This year, there's lots of women that have got babies or young children and I think it's great. The kids all get down there on Saturday and play together and sometimes they're dragged along to training on Thursday night.
"There's a couple of new Mums at the club who are new to town and they think netball has been one of the best things for them.
"Because of lockdowns, they haven't had a normal time off work as such, we haven't had the freedoms that we normally would have so for new Mums, this being their first time around, they've said to me it's imperative for their mental health that they have come back to the sport and to have such a supportive club and people around.
"If a kid's crying, someone will pick them up; everyone's very supportive of all the Mums."
Yarrawonga played in 11 consecutive A-grade grand finals between 2007 and 2017, with Cassar central to most of those after returning from a spell overseas.
As a player and coach, she's helped the Pigeons become the most successful netball side in Ovens and Murray history and that hunger for success remains.
"We lost in 2007 and 2008 but 2009 was the start of four in a row," Cassar recalled.
"You can have the most amazing talent in a team but if you don't gel well off the court, I think that's where you can win and lose.
"In that period, we started to have a little bit of change in the team with people having babies, injuries and people moving away but we had a core nucleus and we kept having that drive and that same goal.
"It's a special club to be part of.
"We work hard. People aren't just successful, it comes from hard work over a long period of time and not just by one or two people. It's a joint effort.
"It's a mindset thing and it's a culture you've got to create.
"Some people will never play finals and I find that hard to believe. People play sport for a long time and to never make finals, that's crazy.
"I want to be the best and to do that, you've got to have great people around you.
"You've got to have skilled people and we're lucky that for a long time, we've had a really good crop of girls.
"Some of us are quite senior now but there's still a lot of youth around the club as well.
"We train as a group as much as we can, with the juniors, so they see the level of training it takes to be a senior and that is how you create a culture.
"If you want to win, you've got to train harder and be the best. It's a great feeling when you win and I think we've got that culture."
The arrival of Sarah Senini, for so many years a fierce opponent in the colours of Lavington, not only strengthened Yarrawonga on the court but illustrated just how high their own standards continue to be.
"Sarah's played a lot of Ovens and Murray netball at senior level and she's an unbelievable player," Cassar said.
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"When she moved to Yarrawonga, one of her first comments to me after training was 'no wonder you girls are so good, you train that hard' and I was like 'oh, do we?'
"It's because we're used to training a certain way and it took an outsider to come in to say 'you girls are good because you work hard' which is a great reflection on the club that we've been able to encapsulate that. It's a lovely thing to hear."
Cassar will do it all again next year as Yarrawonga, who finished 2021 level on points with minor premiers Corowa-Rutherglen, chase an eighth flag in 12 seasons.
"There will be a lot of the same faces floating around next year and it definitely gives you that fire in the belly to put in the hard work and go again," Cassar said.
"I've been away, I've seen a few things, I've come back to Yarrawonga and it's honestly a really good club.
"It's easy to put your hand up to coach and play because you've got all of these people around you who contribute and put the work in for the club to be successful.
"It's not a one-man show, it's a lot of hard work from a lot of people across a long period of time and that's the only way you can be successful.
"I just love the club. My husband says 'you might as well play because you're at the end of your career', which is sad, so I'll keep putting my hand up for as long as I can."
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