Man of many talents
NETBALL: Stanthorpe State High School teacher Michael Solomon is proving to be a man of varied talents.
In the classroom, the former chef teaches cooking. But away from school, Mr Solomon has represented his country in two vastly different codes.
Indoor netball and gridiron couldn't be more different, but they're two sports Mr Solomon loves and has reached the top echelons in.
His most recent achievement was a gold medal at the Indoor Netball World Cup in South Africa just recently.
"I started playing netball probably six years ago now,” he said.
"Started in about 2013 playing it at university and then from uni I got seen by a couple people and asked to go play outdoor.
"I trialled for the Queensland team the year after and made it. That was my first nationals and got selected for the Australian team that year.”
And the rest is history.
He's since competed at World Cups and in tri-series events. In 2016, again representing Australia, he travelled to New Zealand for the outdoor netball World Cup.
"We lost to New Zealand in the final by 10 that year. They've always been our toughest rivals.”
Throughout, Solomon has always competed in mixed netball, not in men's.
The first time he had a go at indoor netball was in 2015. There's two styles of indoor, sixes or sevens. He was selected for Australia's indoor side last August.
"It was the first time I'd trialled for the indoor national team.
"There were four countries over there. Us, England, South Africa and New Zealand.”
They lost in the final of the sixes tournament. But in sevens, they overcame the Kiwis to bring home gold.
"We ended up drawing at the end of regular time and then in overtime we beat them by three.”
If not for a rugby league injury in his university days, Solomon might never have given netball a crack.
"I wanted to play rugby for the uni-games team (Griffith) but they didn't have a team that year. So I said 'well what other sports do you have?'
"That's how I started playing.”
Unfortunately, Solomon has to travel back and forth to Brisbane almost weekly to train and play.
"I love playing it. I find it heaps of fun. The only problem with playing it is it's all self funded. I probably spend $10-15,000 every year on it.”
He had to cover the costs for his South Africa trip.
"With the drought, it's hard to ask people for money out here. I do most of my fundraising in Brisbane.”
He's just about reached the pinnacle in the sport, but he has one other goal left.
"They're trying to get mixed netball into the Commonwealth Games. If that ever actually happens that would be the goal.
"When I was growing up all I ever wanted to do was to represent Australia in something. Originally it was rugby league. But I'm pretty happy because I've now done it in two sports.”