Trailblazer, leader, Mentor: Geva notches game 200

10 months ago

It’s near impossible to measure Geva Mentor’s impact on the netball landscape.

Gabrielle Keegan

One of the world’s best goal-keepers, Mentor notches her 200th national league game in Australia this weekend, some 20 years since making her debut on the international stage as an English Rose.

Mentor is a trailblazer, arriving in Australia in 2008 as part of the very first cohort of international imports to take part in the inaugural Trans-Tasman league.

“The timing just worked out right and I took the gamble to come out to Adelaide,” Mentor said of the decision to embark on the adventure in her early twenties.

“Mum managed to wangle the deal because I didn’t have a manager at the time and she thought that as long as my brother came out with me, I’d be fine a thousand miles away from home.”

For the first few years, Mentor travelled home to England between seasons but as the years wore on, she spent longer and longer on Australian shores.

“Suddenly the months flipped and I was spending more time in Australia. I guess what’s kept me here is not only the beautiful country, but the people as well.”

What ensued has been one of the most decorated careers in Australian netball.

Mentor has achieved premiership success with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, the Melbourne Vixens and was a two-time premiership captain at the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Whilst Mentor prefers not to focus on individual accolades, it’s hard to ignore her resumé.

She was a Grand Final MVP with the Thunderbirds, a three-time club Best and Fairest winner at the Vixens and took home both a club and league MVP Award during her time at the Lightning.

Mentor has captained the Magpies for three years and last year made Collingwood netball history, by becoming the club’s first back-to-back Best and Fairest winner.

Mentor has treated fans across the world to a style of netball that is daring and dynamic. Her ability to read the play is second to none; whether hunting outside the circle, applying pressure over the ball that would strike fear in any shooter or confusing space with the defensive roll that is now synonymous with her name.

She leads by example, empowering those around her and never fearing a new challenge.

“I really enjoy the challenges of a new group coming together under a new coach and seeing what we can create.”

While now calling Australia home, Mentor grew up in the southwest of the United Kingdom in the town of Bournemouth.

Thanks to two sporty parents, a young Mentor was willing to try her hand at just about anything.

Netball didn’t come into the picture until after a stint as a national junior trampolinist – a pathway which took a backseat after a handful of serious injuries, including a fractured cheekbone and a period in a neck-brace.

When she took up netball with school friends as an alternative, little did she know that she was on a fast track to the English national team.

Mentor was selected in the English Under 17s a year after taking up the sport, and recorded her first senior international cap at age 16.

As they say, the rest is history.

Mentor now has 146 international caps for the English Roses to her name, comprising five Commonwealth Games and five Netball World Championships.

She boasts three World Championship bronze medals, two Commonwealth Games bronze medals, a World Youth Championship silver, a Fast5 Series gold and a Commonwealth Games gold.

To top it all off, Mentor was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2019 for her services to her sport.

Despite a cabinet full of silverware, Mentor believes her greatest achievement is the relationships she has built along the way.

“A lot of players that I used to play with that have now retired are some of my closest friends.”

“My biggest motivation has always been my teammates.”

Away from the netball court, Mentor is studying a Bachelor of Education with aspirations of becoming a primary teacher.

“I’d like to think I’m in my third year but who knows, it’s been about six years now because I’ve been doing it part time,” she joked.

But for now, there still remains unfinished business on the court.

“I don’t just want to be Mentor by name and mentor by nature, I want to make sure that I still have an impact out there.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough that every club I’ve been a part of so far have been able to win a premiership and I’d love to do the same here at Collingwood.”

“On the broader horizon, [my goal] is to see out another Commonwealth Games and World Cup.”

And there’s no plans to hang up the dress just yet.

“We’re very fortunate as netballers now, being able to be professional athletes. I love the lifestyle so if I can hold onto that for as long as possible I certainly will.”

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