Sarah Klau has a lot going on. The NSW Swifts’ goalkeeper has been quietly making a name for herself as one of Super Netball’s emerging stars.
She’s in the middle of completing her masters in occupational therapy. She plays piano, flute and violin. And she’s about to make her debut for the Diamonds when they head off to Liverpool next month to defend their title at the World Cup.
It was something Klau had been working, and hoping for, but she was still taken aback by her selection, coming soon after the whirlwind of her public admission of a type one diabetes diagnosis.
“There’s always got a bit of hope, deep down, but I hadn’t had the experience at the Constellation and Quad competitions and I thought the other girls [in those teams] had the advantage over me, so I had my doubts.
“But at the end of the day, I put everything that I had out on court and into training. So if I did get the bad news, I knew that I had done everything I could have done, I wouldn’t have any regrets. I was so happy, it was so exciting.”
It’s the cherry on top of an already stellar 2019, with the South Australian-born defender already being named most valuable player in two games this season.
Klau’s played a commanding role in the Swifts dominating season, which sees them at the top of the ladder, and there’s even more expected of the agile 190cm-tall goal-keeper.
Klau joins a formidable line-up that includes Giants shooter Caitlin Bassett re-named as captain and the Vixens’ midcouter Liz Watson will be vice-captain. It’s the first World Cup for nine players although most have played in the Constellation Cup and Quad Series.
The girls have been extremely welcoming and that’s a credit to the culture they’ve built there.
“They’re living by those values and I think that will help with the introduction of me going into camp and the World Cup.”
The Diamonds head into their short but intense training camp on Monday with much expected of them at the World Cup. The world No.1’s shocked the sport when it fell short of the gold medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games to rivals England by a single, painful point.
The pressure to make up for the shock loss will be intense, Klau says, but adds that for her first international outing she’s just going to try to block out the noise.
“I think there’ll be that extra hunger in the belly to get that win and walk away with gold.
“It’s always going to be a highly pressured environment but we just need to focus on our role and what we need to do and not let the external influences get to us and affect our performance.”
Along with the pressure from their fans, the Diamonds face the pressure of competing internationally in the middle of their domestic season, which was split in two halves to accommodate the World Cup.
In the safe assumption that the Diamonds make the grand final, they’ll play eight games in just 10 days. They then come home to pick up their Super Netball duties for the last five rounds.
Kkau says Super Netball’s new rule of allowing an extra two players per club will help players ease back into the domestic competition.
“It’s all quite new to me but I think in the past the girls have been quite burned out coming off the Quad Series and Constellation Cup and they’ve really looked at that; here’s a lot of emphasis on wellbeing and making sure that you do have that down time and not overloading.
“I’m not too worried about it, I know myself well enough and I know my body; as long as I do all the right things, I’ll be fine.”
Listening to her body has a whole new meaning for Klau, who recently went public with her diagnosis of type one diabetes.
Klau, who has acknowledged her lack of confidence and is usually hesitant to speak out, said talking about life with the disease isn’t something she would have usually done but she wanted to show others with diabetes, especially young people, that they don’t have to be defined by the disease.
“I was only diagnosed in February,” she says. “It’s quite life-changing and daunting at first, and I hope in sharing my experience that it helps other people living with the disease who are finding it difficult or challenging.”
The feedback from the public, Khau, has been “amazing”.
“I don’t want any sympathy but it’s just been really special. A whole different community have reached out and I’ve had quite a few messages on Instagram and a lot of people shared their stories with me.
“I hope I’m a positive role model.”