For up-and-coming basketball player Georgia Puruto, wearing a Queensland jersey for the first time is a moment she will always treasure.
The Year 9 student from Clontarf Beach State High School has returned home after playing in the Under 15 Emerging Girls South team at the annual Southern Cross Challenge in Melbourne.
Held from January 20-23, the Southern Cross Challenge is a tournament open to Under 14 and Under 15 male and female players from around Australia, bringing together the best and brightest talent to compete against each other.
This year’s tournament saw teams from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland compete, with Queensland sending two South and two North teams.
The teams were selected based on the performance of players in the U14 State Championships as well as part of the Future Development Program.
Speaking to Moreton Daily, Georgia said she was thrilled to be selected.
“This was the first Queensland team I have played for, so that was a very big achievement for me,” Georgia said.
“I was so surprised when I found out I had been selected.”
The U15 Girls competition had 16 teams, with Georgia and her teammates breezing through the tournament undefeated.
“I didn’t think we would win the whole tournament, which was so good,” Georgia said.
“This was the first time I had played with these girls before because none of them are from my association, but we all became really good friends at the end.”
You can see more photos of Georgia playing in Melbourne in the gallery below.
Georgia was introduced to the game at an early age by her dad.
“He started training me when I was three years old,” Georgia said.
Georgia, who now plays for the Spartans down in Carina, has a very rigorous training and playing schedule each week.
“Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have rep training, and on Friday I have club games, plus rep games on Sunday,” Georgia said.
“Saturdays are the only days I have off.”
Georgia hopes to make the Queensland side for the State Performance Program, with training and tryouts scheduled for tonight.
“I made the top 30 and now 15 people will get picked,” Georgia said.
She also hopes to play for the Australian Opals one day.
As she continues to make a name for herself on the court, Georgia has the following advice for other young aspiring players.
"Definitely keep training, that’s what I did. And have a good mindset and attitude.
"If you really want it, go for it."
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