As judged by an expert panel, last week Hayley Mulheron capped off a solid performance against the New Zealand Silver Ferns by being awarded the Scottish Player of the Series. The Thistles Goal Keeper was kept busy throughout the two game series against the defending Commonwealth champions, but as the last line of defence against the quick firing Kiwi offence, this was fully expected.
However, it could be mistaken that back to back losses of 72-18 and 63-26 could not lead to much encouragement, but Hayleigh sees it differently: “To play against New Zealand, one of the world’s best and to show improvement from one match to the next, that is a win. This experience has really given us a benchmark to see how we are shaping up for Glasgow 2014.”
Born and raised in Castlemilk, Glasgow, the 184cm starting Goal Keeper for the Thistles left school to join the Police force: “I would say that you have to be streetwise around Castlemilk. It has a reputation of being a rough area and to be a Police Officer, you definitely have to be able to read people and think on your feet. Of course Netball is a non-contact sport, but the ability to predict play and hold your position is key.”
Seven years ago Hayleigh stepped down from the Police to become a Civil Servant. She dreams of taking the 20+ hour flight to play Netball full time as only offered in places like New Zealand and Australia, but is enjoying her current job as they are: “Very considerate and flexible with my work pattern which allows me to train mornings and evenings. I actually also play Netball for my work which has its advantages.”
Classifying herself as the “old one” in the Scottish line up, Hayleigh aged 27 has been involved in the national team for the past 10 years and regularly feeds that experience into the younger members of the squad. However, that experience also includes the painful memories of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games when the Scottish team failed to qualify: “Delhi was very disappointing. We were on the brink of qualification but as India was the host nation, they jumped up and qualified instead of us. It was heart breaking and we have used that to drive on and prepare well for Glasgow.”
Hayleigh’s biggest challenge is now maintaining her place in the Thistle line-up until the Team Scotland squad is selected for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in a few months’ time.
You can follow Hayley on Twitter @HayleyMulheron
Photo Credit: Netball Scotland