Bianca Chatfield Game On Interview

Bianca Chatfield Game On Interview

Game On

In Game On, star Australian Diamonds netball defender and ex-Vixens Captain, Bianca Chatfield, and Leigh Russell, leadership specialist and high-performance coach, join forces to bring you their no-nonsense handbook for success. Combining Bianca's experience as an elite athlete, teacher and sporting mentor, and Leigh's background as an ex-CEO, facilitator and counsellor, Game On is designed to give women the ultimate toolkit they need to build the life and career they want.

Speaking frankly on many challenges the modern day woman encounters in her career, including building personal brand, confidence & resilience, working with fear, and dealing with the inner critic as examples, Game On helps women to leap from their own comfort zone with practical strategies and support to increase their success.

Developed from Biancaa and Leigh's combined thirty-plus years of working with people in high performance environments, developing leadership programs and one-on-one coaching sessions for many women.

Split into five parts Game On covers Getting Your Game on – finding your groove and igniting your passion; Mind Games; Take The Lead – making the best possible impact; You Got This – nailing the life you want; and The Game Plan – putting it into action. Each section builds on the one before; however readers can also jump into the parts that resonate with their current career situation. Game On will inspire while at the same time, strip achievements back so that the reader can see a practical pathway to developing her skills.

Written in a straightforward and authentic tone, grounded in research and personal experiences, the authors share their stories of failure & success and -call it how it is'. With its fun and colourful design, inspiring quotes and anecdotes throughout, Game On will become the go-to personal mentor for women in their career and life.

Bianca Chatfield Director, recently retired elite netballer, former netball captain, keynote speaker, leadership specialist, ambassador, teacher, media talent, broadcaster and columnist for the Herald Sun.

Bianca is one of the youngest players ever to have debuted for the Australian Diamonds, at the age of only 18. She made a name for herself on the court as one of the toughest defenders in the country, and as one of the most respected leaders in women's sport.

Leigh Russell Leadership specialist, board director, performance coach, public speaker and facilitator. Leigh has qualifications in the arts, teaching, counselling, career counselling and business, and is the Mind Coach on Foxtel's The Recruit.

Leigh has worked with top athletes, coaches and administrators in elite sport across Australia. She has been a CEO, teacher and counsellor – experience that comes in handy when she walks through the door at night and transforms into her role as mother to three.

Game On
Hardie Grant
Authors: Bianca Chatfield and Leigh Russell
RRP: $34.99


Interview with Bianca Chatfield attended Mentone Girls Grammar School to chat with Australian Diamonds and ex-Vixens Netballer Bianca Chatfield about her new book 'Game On' with Mentone Girls Grammar Netballers Olivia Earney and Sophie Wightman and Victorian Rep players, Chloe Daniels and Maya Dear.


Question: At what age did you start playing netball?

Bianca Chatfield: I started playing netball when I was about 11 years old but I played basketball and netball. It wasn't until I was about 14 or 15 years old that I started to take netball a bit more seriously.

Question: At what age did you realise you could follow your dream to play for Australia?

Bianca Chatfield: For me I was very competitive with my older sister and she was playing for Victorian teams and that made me realise, that's what I wanted to do. By the age of 15 I was thinking I could make netball my career and that's when I stopped playing basketball and started focusing, just on netball. I never really dreamed that one day I could play for Australia, it just kind of happened. Once I got into the Australian team that's when I said -right, I want to stay here'.

Question: How do you overcome the moments, during your netball career, where you wanted to give up?

Bianca Chatfield: I can guarantee you, it doesn't matter what you do, whether you're an athlete or you're at school, everyone has days where they do not want to get out of bed and do whatever it is, they have to do, that day. For me it's always about having a plan, I always knew netball was what I wanted to do and playing a team sport means you've got friends and teammates around you who always lift you up. If I went to training and I wasn't feeling very motivated, I always knew I had teammates who would help me, be positive and lift me up and vice-versa when they were feeling down. I think I played a team sport because of that; I wanted to rely on my teammates and be able to support other people.

Had I been an individual athlete things may have been a little different as I don't know if I would have been as motivated to get out there. I loved that fact that if things were going well you had teammates to celebrate with and if things weren't going as well you had people there going through exactly what you were going through.

Question: Who was your inspiration, growing up?

Bianca Chatfield: My inspiration was my older sister, Natalie, I always used to watch her play netball, all the time and she was quite good so if she made a State team, I'd want to make a State team. As I got older I was surrounded by amazing players who inspired me; Liz Boniello was someone at Melbourne Phoenix who was always working hard and would always give everything that she had. Some of my great friends including Sharelle McMahon who I got to play my career with, were inspirational too.

I really like to look to other athletes, outside of netball too, such as Susie O'Neill, who is a swimmer – I used to love watching her. I enjoyed watching people achieve great things and what they set out to achieve and you can always draw inspiration from that.

Question: What sacrifices did you have to make, to pursue your netball goals?

Bianca Chatfield: A lot but you do it because you love it, so much, so you don't see it as a big sacrifice. I definitely missed out on going to different parties that other people were looking forward to, on the weekend, which you can't go to, because you have netball. As you get a little bit older you'll miss out on friend's weddings or there will be family events that you cannot go to but once I started playing in the Australian team you just can't not be at training, netball is your number one priority. If you want to go to the Commonwealth Games or World Championships you have to commit to everything and I didn't see it as a sacrifice – it was something I had to do. You also have non-negotiables; if there was something that was just my family, that I wanted to be at, I would always make sure that was a priority and have that discussion with the team, to make sure I could fit it in.

Question: What advice do you have for young aspiring netballers?

Bianca Chatfield: The key for me was that I always loved what I did. Don't play the sport if someone else is telling you to do it, do it because you love playing the sport and do it because you love playing in a team. A lot of people get it wrong when playing in a team sport because they're more worried about what they want to get out of it, than as a team. When I was a part of a successful team the individual rewards came out of that; when we were successful at a Victorian level then you'd get the Australian selections outside of it.

Players who go into sport just to make the Australian team without the little stepping stones along the way are sometimes the ones who don't necessarily get in. You've got to enjoy it, love it and work hard. There are times where you don't want to go to the gym or do sessions with the team or it's raining outside and you've got to be outside but they're the times when your teammates pull you through.

Question: What was your childhood dream?

Bianca Chatfield: That's a good question, it seems like a long time ago that I was a child but I loved playing sport and at that time I was probably more into basketball than netball but once I got into the netball bubble it was about being the best that I could and because I was competitive if there was another defender who was playing when I was sitting on the bench, I'd be motivated to work hard to make sure I was on court. I was really competitive and I think that's how I was able to keep pushing myself because I wanted to be better, myself.

Off the court I always dreamt of being a Doctor, I don't know why (it is so random) but I thought Physio or Doctor because they work within the world of sport but that never happened because netball took over.

Question: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

Bianca Chatfield: I did, more when I was younger than when I was older. I think when you're older you realise you waste a lot of energy trying to get all of that right and it doesn't actually make any difference. I always used to tape both my ankles to play and I would tape my left and then my right and I would always wear the exact same dress, all year, even though we'd been given a few (obviously I would wash it). I would stick to little routines but as I got older I liked when things weren't going to plan because it enabled me to think a bit differently about how to do things.

A lot of the girls are picky about food and what they eat before a game; if we were travelling, to go to a restaurant for dinner was difficult because we had to fit with all the girls demands, which is sometimes quiet tricky.

Superstitions are fun but don't put too much emphasis on it because you waste way too much energy worrying about it.

Question: Did you find it difficult to juggle school, homework and sport?

Bianca Chatfield: Definitely. That is probably the hardest part because as a netballer you're unfortunately not a full-time athlete, so we have to have something else, outside of it. When I started playing for Melbourne Phoenix (now Melbourne Vixens) I was still at school (year 12) and I was living an hour away from Melbourne so my Mum would have to pick me up from school to take me to training and then go home and we did that most nights – I learnt to do my homework in the car on the way to the city, when I had an hour and then I'd get home and have to finish it off, before I went to bed.

Being really organised is key - I had a diary and I put everything in it and it got to the point where I would highlight what's netball, what's school and what was social. The more organised I was, the calmer I was inside and felt like I had it all under control.

People would ask 'how do you possibly fit it all in?" but you just do because you want to and you don't see netball as a job or as something tedious you have to do, you love it so you want to be there and you make it all work, any way you possibly can.

Question: What mindset do you have when you step onto the court and if you make a mistake how do you pick yourself up and continue to play?

Bianca Chatfield: That's a very hard one; it's something you get better at as you get older. I would always try and be calm when I was on court; you learn that erratic players (girls that get stressed and worried) feed off onto everybody else on the team. The players who are calm are genuinely always positive, even if the umpire pulls them up – they do not have bad body language and they are not having a go at the umpires; I wanted to be the calm and positive player on the team. It's a fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality, you may be angry on in the inside but you smile on the outside and that rubs off on you which changes your mindset.

I was a defender so I would think that every centre pass was a new opportunity so even if I had a goal shot on me or we were losing instead of worrying about what was happening I would try to flip to what was about to happen and think every centre pass was a new opportunity and as defenders we would say that to each other, all the time.

It's important on the court that you constantly talk to each other and you learn what helps, each other. When you see a team member dropping - you pick them up and they'll do that to you too.

Question: How difficult was it for you to juggle the emotional strain of professional sport?

Bianca Chatfield: I found it tough but by the end of my career I found that was one of my strengths. For me being physically fit and being able to play the positions I was playing, on court, was really hard; some girls are genetically blessed and are so fit naturally – I was like that as a kid but as I got older, I had to work really hard to make sure I was fit enough and believe it or not by the end of my career I was getting too short to play as a defender and I had to do extra work on jumping to tackle tall shooters. In the end, the mentality of being calm on the court was easier than playing netball physically.

It's not easy but I think the key is having people within your team that know your triggers; we used to have so many open discussions in the Australian team about what our reaction was, on the field, when under pressure. For me, I used to be very loud on the court as a defender but the girls knew I was under pressure when I got quiet as I was worried about my own performance. The girls knew if I'd gone quiet, I was worried and they'd try to get me out of that. Likewise you'd learn other teammates and when they've gone into their shell and how to get them back out of it.

Yes I was mentally quiet strong but I put a lot down to my teammates around me and they knew me very well and knew how to help in the times that were tough. It's really good, when you're a part of a rock-solid team, spending time getting to know each other, is crucial.

Question: What do you hope readers take from Game On?

Bianca Chatfield: I feel like over my sporting career, I've learnt so much and I really wanted to be able to share those experiences with others and not just netballers, everybody. There is an element where we can all do, what we want to do in life whether that is an elite netballer or a Doctor, whatever it might be there are little things you can put in place to get the best out of yourself.

Game On is a handbook that you can take away as your mentor; if you are not sure how to handle umpires or need to communicate better with your teammates or understand how you can receive feedback from your coach and not take it personally – it's all in Game On, to help you.

I wrote Game On with my business partner Leigh Russell who has worked in Sports Administration in the business world whereas I've been the athlete so we think we've combined all of our experiences and come up with a pretty cool manual for everybody to go out there and get the best out of themselves no matter what it is they want to do.

Question: How did you come up with the idea behind Game On?

Bianca Chatfield: The title Game On reflects the netball tie in and everybody wants to get their game on, get better and be better at whatever they do – supercharge your life to get the best out of it. The book breaks it down in quarters, every chapter is about having or creating your own game plan, so you're not starting from scratch thinking -I want to do this, how am I going to do it' the book gives you stepping stones about how you'll get there and that can be for anything that you want to do.

Question: What was your pathway to becoming an Australian Diamond?

Bianca Chatfield: Firstly everyone's pathways are so different, one thing we did whilst in the Diamonds was compare how we got there and everyone's path was so different. Some people make it really young and by the time I was 18 I had made the Aussie team which is ridiculous in hindsight because I made the team, then I got dropped and then I got back in. My older sister said I had it easy but once I made the Australian team, I found it really hard work. Some girls don't make the Australian team until they are 25 or 26 after having more experience. For me, it was play for my club team, then my rep team and then I tried out for all the school teams and I didn't make all of them; it was about going and playing all the tournaments on Sundays, even when it's pouring with rain. It's about playing because you don't know how many people in the netball world are watching tournaments and from there I was invited to training.

I played for the VNL (Victorian Netball League) at VIS and then I got asked to train with Melbourne Phoenix (now Melbourne Vixens) and I was there by 16.

I feel very fortunate that it happened that way, for me but everyone's path is totally different – some girls are 28 years old and only just making their first Australian team. Don't ever compare each other's careers – it's about persisting because you'll get there eventually if you work hard enough.

Question: What do you miss most about netball now you have retired?

Bianca Chatfield: I retired in 2015; I don't miss warming up, I don't know why but I didn't want to warm up anymore, you do the same thing, every single time. If you've seen a Melbourne Vixens game, you'll see they were all very choreographed and perfect.

I miss being around 11 other girls, every day because we would see each other, every day as you would travel interstate and overseas, with each other. I miss hanging out, in that environment but since then I've been commentating so I'm still at the game talking and interacting with the girls.

Question: Did you ever see yourself playing a different position than defence?

Bianca Chatfield: I actually started off as a shooter (GS/GA) and because I was tall I was told 'you should be a shooter" and I went to one tournament trying out for a school team and they tried me as defender and said 'there are so many tall shooters but not tall defenders" and I was a bit of a sook but I remember my Mum said 'listen to your coach" and I did and had a go and from that moment I've always been a defender and I'm glad I swapped because there were a lot of tall girls going for the GS position but not tall defenders so potentially that's how I crept up pretty early.

Game On
Hardie Grant
Authors: Bianca Chatfield and Leigh Russell
RRP: $34.99

Available NOW at






Special mention and thanks to Mentone Girls Grammar School for hosting our interview and our brave local netballers talking on camera with Bianca Chatfield;


Maya Dear (Vic Rep Stella Maris Year 6)

Chloe Daniels (Vic Rep and MGGS Year 8)

Olivia Earney (MGGS Year 8)

Sophie Wrightman (MGGS Year 8)


Copyright © 2001 -, a Company - All rights reserved.