In a must-see photo essay, Netball Scoop sport’s photographer May Bailey takes you behind the scenes of the Australian Men’s team during their recent test matches against New Zealand and England.
Bailey travelled with the squad during the series, capturing both the on court action, and the rarely granted access beyond it. Images from each game were published in our match reports, but the collection below shows some of the special moments before and after the the games.
Eugene Lee, who took the court in both series and at the Fast5 World Series, also shared his insights about these historic matches.
With thanks to May Bailey, Eugene Lee, Heath Brown and AMMNA for their support and permission in publishing this series.
“I have so many friends that I’ve made through netball. It’s always brought me joy, whether it’s working my butt off training or fitness testing, winning or losing. It always puts a smile on my face, even after a tough day at work.” Eugene Lee
“We were doing some Tik-toks with Dravyn. I think our Menulog one had a couple of hundred thousand views – we’ve been trying to redo it without as much success so far.” Eugene Lee.
“It’s the great thing about our team. We come from different walks of life and different backgrounds, but we all have our crazy personalities and blend in. We work well together.” Eugene Lee
“We are very big on coming together and embracing the moment.” Eugene Lee
“With social media and all the different platforms, it’s easier to get the word out there. We can all work together to promote netball, whether that’s us, the Diamonds, or both – netball is for everyone, and you can participate however you want, at whatever level you want. We just want people to enjoy netball.
“That’s the message we need to get across. Even just showing one extra person a post, a video, they might then show another person, or give it a go, and it’s a domino effect.” Eugene Lee
“Netball gives me that competitive drive. It’s such a strategic game, and I’m a bit of a strategic player, so I really enjoy that. Plus you have to work together as a unit and as a team for success.” Eugene Lee
“In the changerooms we were doing our prep, lots of music blaring, people dancing, people getting treatment.” Eugene Lee
“The squad got selected in April at Nationals, and then the 16 of us came together for our first camp in August. Five days of training where the coaches selected who went on which tour. It was a great environment, very competitive, and everyone has embraced the new coach and the new programme.”
“We sat down at camp and when we were on tour, to look at our team culture, and to recognise that we’ve taken the next step towards being semi-professional athletes and that we are now in a high performance space. We went through what our expectations were as a team, what our values were, how we wanted to be perceived.
“The conversations were very positive, with buy in from the players about what we wanted to represent, to put ourselves out there to show people who we were, but also to let our netball do the talking.” Eugene Lee
“Ned (coach Nerida Stewart) always gives us a last chat about what we want to produce on court.” Eugene Lee
“I’m a NSW boy – walking into Qudos Bank Arena was a pinch-me moment. It’s huge, and I’ve sat in the seats to watch so many other things. So to walk out on court, to see family and friends in the crowd, faces that we knew smiling and being so happy for us.” Eugene Lee
“It’s been great to see the young ones in the crowd, and have multiple boys asking us for autographs and photos. That makes our heart so full, seeing that little kid realise that there’s a pathway for him to follow in men’s netball.” Eugene Lee.
“The first match in New Zealand was surreal, standing on the line with the national anthem playing. To see the crowd rolling in – we are used to having a few hundred to a thousand, so to play in a huge arena with a few thousand people in the crowd to watch us and cheer us on. It brought tears to my eyes.” Eugene Lee
“We are a team that wants to be the best in the world. To work really hard, to play amazing netball, and to play the game, not the occasion. We want to sit at the pinnacle of the sport, a team that young kids and other men can aspire to be part of.” Eugene Lee
“We haven’t played New Zealand since 2018 due to Covid. It was a really tough series against them, and we really had to earn the win.” Eugene Lee
“The camaraderie amongst this group is among the best of any team or tour that I’ve been on.” Eugene Lee
Eugene Lee is a NSW based Australian Men’s netballer, who first played as an eight year old. With no pathways to follow, he dropped out of the sport at the end of primary school, before returning in Year 11.
Lee, who plays across goal shooter, goal attack and wing attack, made his way up through the ranks, before debuting for the Open Men in 2018. Known for his accuracy at the post, Lee is a smart, creative athlete, who reads the game well.
Like many of the Australian men, Lee is deeply invested in netball, coaching GWS Fury in the NSW Premier League, and helps out at his home association, Inner West. He also invests time in the NSW Men’s junior development programmes.
May Bailey studied photography when she was younger, but didn’t really step behind the camera until she couldn’t find photos of her own netball career. “I missed those special moments, so I originally started taking photos for fun, and it went from there.”
Continuing to develop her craft, Bailey has photographed a number of sports, with highlights along the way including the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool, 2019, Sydney’s FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2022, and the recent Australian Men’s netball matches. She said, “It was a pinch-me moment to be part of that historic moment in . To be out there and watching the boys walking into the arena.”
After years of experimenting and learning, Bailey has developed her own unique style. She said, “You have to put yourself in the athlete’s shoes, knowing how hard they’ve worked over the years, and the dedication and commitment it’s taken to reach this level. So it’s capturing their expression and their athleticism, those special moments that might never be repeated.”
One of a handful of women in a male dominated industry, Bailey said while that can be intimidating at times, it’s a fantastic career to have. “I didn’t expect to take this path in life, but it’s pretty amazing when your passion takes you down a whole new road.”
Bailey was a 2019 finalist in the Women Sport Australia awards, and a 2020 finalist in the Women in Sport Action Photo Awards.
May Bailey’s images can be found at Clusterpix Photography, and are available for purchase.