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Video clip synopsis – We follow the Melbourne Phoenix Netball Club - the players, coach and administrators - through the pain and passion of a year in elite-level amateur sport.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 1min 58sec
Tags - DIY Doco, documentary, documentary genre, gender, sport, women, see all tags


The Last Great Amateurs

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About the Video Clip


This video clip is an excerpt from the film The Last Great Amateurs, produced in 2004.

The Last Great Amateurs follows the players, coach and management through a year of pain and passion, rivalry and camaraderie, fund raising raffles and contract battles. These talented and dedicated sportswomen suffer injures and fight at the negotiating table to join their male counterparts as true professionals.

This season, the women of Melbourne Phoenix Netball Club will again put their personal lives and other careers on hold and train to exhaustion at least six times a week for the love of their sport and a shot at glory. These players are the best in the world yet, in an era of multi million-dollar sporting competitions, the clubs in the National Netball League operate on shoestring budgets and are run largely by volunteers.

The film is presented by one of Australia’s most popular comedians, Magda Szubanski, in her role as Sharon Strezlecki (star of Kath and Kim and the Phoenix’s number one fan).

A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Apollo Films. Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission and Film Victoria. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus



Students read and view texts that entertain, move, parody, investigate, analyse, argue and persuade. These texts may include documentaries that contain accessible but challenging issues that deal with local, national and international events. They explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance to the students’ own lives.

Students understand that readers and viewers may need to develop knowledge about particular events, issues and contexts to interpret texts.


When students write information or argument texts, they make appropriate selections of information from a few sources and attempt to synthesise and organise these in a logical way.

Students write imaginative texts in print and electronic mediums that contain personal, social and cultural ideas and issues related to their own lives and communities and their views of the expanding world.

Speaking and listening

Students speak and listen through oral presentations. They draw on their knowledge of texts and language to structure a formal presentation.

These are extracts only. For further information please see the National Curriculum Statements for English.

Background Information


The first recorded game of women’s basketball in Australia was played in Victoria in 1897. Netball is now the number one team sport for women in Australia.

In the 1970’s an increased interest in gender issues in sports, the growing professionalism of sports and increased government funding repositioned women’s basketball as a new sport called netball. Netball was restructured as a professionally administered sporting organisation. Some resisted this change and the resulting power battles within the sport still exist today.

In 1997 the All Australian Netball Association (AANA) announced a National Netball League (NNL) of eight teams. Melbourne Phoenix is one of the most successful teams in the NNL. In 2003 they made netball history, winning back-to-back premierships.

To meet the demands of playing at an elite amateur level, team members train to the point of exhaustion at least six times a week. They often play two games a week and also run junior clinics. They are the best in the world yet, in the era of multi-million dollar sporting competitions, the clubs in the NNL operate on shoestring budgets and are run largely by volunteers. Phoenix players were at the time paid an annual sum of $2050.

Classroom Activities

  1. Personal journey
    Personal journey documentaries often present a biographical or autobiographical story of an individual or a group of people. The story often features a specific event or aspect of a person’s life.
    1. Which/what group of people feature in The Last Great Amateurs?
    2. What is the specific event featured?
    3. Why do you think the filmmaker has chosen this specific event?
    4. What does the title mean and how does it relate to the subject of the film?
  2. Documentary style
    Personal journey documentaries use a range of styles including video-diary and observational. The Last Great Amateurs also uses Magda Szubanski, in her role as Sharon Strezlecki (star of Kath and Kim and the Phoenix’s number one fan) as a presenter.
    View the video clip several times and answer the following questions about film techniques.
    1. What event is being filmed?
    2. What type of camera shots are used at the start?
    3. What style of music is used?
    4. Why does the filmmaker include emotional voice over from the coach?
    5. What action footage is included?
    6. What is the role of Sharon Strezlecki?
    7. How has the filmmaker included humour? Give an example.
  3. Write a 350-word speech to deliver to your class arguing a case for one of the following topics or create one of your own
    1. Netball should be an Olympic sport
    2. Netball players should be treated as professional sportswomen
    3. Netball is just as important as Women’s basketball
      As research for your article, find out about the following:
    4. When did netball start?
    5. What teams are in the current netball league?
    6. What players in the top league are paid?
    7. How many girls in Australia currently play netball?
    8. Where the Australian netball team is ranked in the world.

Further Resources


Go to the Australian Institute of Sport website

Go to the Australian Netball Association website

Go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website

Go to the DIY DOCO website