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Bueta named Firebirds best

28-year-old Gretel Bueta has taken home the Laura Geitz Medal as this year’s Queensland Firebirds Most Valuable Player.

Bueta received a standing ovation during Saturday night’s club gala dinner and awards, as she took to the stage to collect her second Laura Geitz Medal.

The Queensland Firebirds and Australian Diamonds goal attack was the inaugural Laura Geitz Medal winner in 2019, and is the first player to achieve the double.

A 3-2-1 voting system sees Firebirds coaches and players award points to players at the end of each game, based on who they believe is the most valuable player on court.

Bueta claimed this year’s title with a whopping 242 points, ahead of second-placed Gabi Simpson on 182 points and third-placed Donnell Wallam on 157 points.

Bueta, who was also recognised at the black tie Howard Smith Wharves event for marking a milestone 100 games, said it was “really special” to receive the award which honours one of her dearest friends.

“She (Geitz) has been my idol since forever and now I call her a really close friend who’s helped me immensely throughout the years,” Bueta said.

“She’s an amazing human, on and off the court, and I just look up to her in so many ways. It’s really special to receive the award but it’s also the ultimate team sport, netball. No one person can do it all and you can’t change anything without each other.”

Earlier in the evening, experienced wing defender Simpson, 29, was celebrated by her peers who voted her the 2022 Queensland Firebirds Players’ Player of the Year.

Simpson, wrapping up her tenth season at the Firebirds, said to be chosen by her teammates was incredible.

“For me this year I’ve really enjoyed doing what I’m doing,” Simpson said.

“I’ve really been extremely happy and played with a lot of, I guess, freedom and passion for what I’m doing. So to get an award at the end is just a bonus.”

Young attacker Mia Stower received the 2022 Queensland Firebirds Spirit Award for her efforts during her first season on the club’s senior list.

Introduced in 2006, this award is decided by Firebirds management and goes to the player who has shown dedication to the team and program while displaying a fantastic attitude and sense of fun.

“I was very shocked but obviously very humbled as it’s a great award to get,” the 22-year-old said.

“I think 2022 was a great learning opportunity. I learnt so much from Donnell (Wallam), Diddy (Aiken-George) and Gretels (Bueta), and I’m just excited to keep learning.”

Queensland Firebirds members are an integral part of the purple family, and as such have the opportunity to vote for their favourite player of the season, which this year went to defender Ruby Bakewell-Doran.

Bakewell-Doran, 23, enjoyed a breakout year in which she was named as a training partner for the Diamonds’ Commonwealth Games campaign.

“I think the purple family are the best family,” Bakewell-Doran said.

“They get around us whether we’re winning or losing. They are our support network and I think they are the best.”

2022 Queensland Firebirds Awards recipients:
QLD 17 & Under Players’ Player – Darcie Davies
QLD 17 & Under MVP – Jayden Molo
QLD 19 & Under Players’ Player – Ashleigh Ervin
QLD 19 & Under MVP – Lillyana Rennie
QLD 19 & Under Judy Sampson Memorial – Isabelle Shearer
2022 Queensland Firebirds Volunteer of the Year –  Amy Culley
2022 Queensland Firebirds Members’ Player of the Year – Ruby Bakewell-Doran
2022 Queensland Firebirds Spirit Award – Mia Stower
2022 Queensland Firebirds Players’ Player of the Year – Gabi Simpson
Laura Geitz Medal – 2022 Queensland Firebirds Most Valuable Player – Gretel Bueta

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