Between them, they have 14 children, five husbands and multiple businesses – and they were all part of the Silver Ferns team that won gold at the World Netball Championships in 2003.
But although it’s been 11 years since Anna Stanley, Tania Dalton, Belinda Colling, Temepara Bailey and Adine Wilson helped New Zealand take out the title, it’s almost as if nothing has changed – apart from the fact that they’re now all mums.
Together for the first time in years, the group, who are all now netball commentators for Sky Sport, gossip and giggle as if no time has passed.
“It’s funny, we don’t see each other for years, but you can pick up the conversation like it was yesterday,” says Belinda (38). “We’ve been through so many highs and lows together, we’ve got a bond that will always be there.”
Although the topics of conversation are a little different than they were 11 years ago – “the gossip about who is going out with who and what bars we went to last weekend have been replaced with stories of immunisations, nappies and which schools are the best,” laughs Adine (34) – all five ladies agree that their friendship has never been stronger.
“We’ve watched each other have kids, we’ve been to each other’s weddings. So it’s a special friendship,” explains Anna (38).
“When we all started having kids, we were all on the blower to each other, comparing notes,” she adds with a laugh. “It was all, ‘Oh my God, how do you do this? What’s happening here?’
We all had kids around the same time, apart from Bubby [Temepara], who started breeding a little earlier.”
“And I keep forgetting the others are mums now!” exclaims Temepara (38).
“My kids are 20 and 16. I had them when I was playing and back then I was the only one. Time management was definitely crucial!”
As the group sits around and reminisces about “the old days”, as Tania (42) calls them, they can’t quite believe they’re all married with families – a far cry from when they first met as five young women hoping to one day don the little black dress.
“I do remember one night after the World Champs in 2003 when some of us got in a little bit of trouble,” says Adine with a sly grin.
“We were celebrating the win, and two of us were dancing on the tables in a bar. We got kicked out. The story made the front page of the paper!
“We were in so much trouble and it was such a massive scandal – the paper never named the two table dancers, so there was all this speculation flying around… but it wasn’t necessarily me!”
“Yeah, my mum rang me up and said, ‘Now that wouldn’t have been you, right?’” adds Tania. “I said, ‘No, no.’”
“Anyway, it was two out of us five. You can guess who it was!” teases Adine.
Although their professional playing days are over – apart from Temepara’s two-week stint with the Mystics earlier this year – “a temporary thing, trust me!” – some of the Auckland-based girls were getting together to play social netball, until other teams threatened to beat them up because they were too good.
“It was more aggressive than the international games!” exclaims Anna. “But we did win it for a few years running.”
“I call us the ‘Has-beens’,” Tania laughs. “We just turned up five minutes before the game and played. The recovery was a bit different. Instead of ice baths, it was anti-inflammatory cream and a glass of wine.”
But despite the fact all five former Ferns miss taking the court and pulling on the national colours, their roles as mothers more than make up for the longing to play.
“I also don’t know how the bodies would cope,” Belinda quips.
“I miss the social stuff quite a bit,” Adine says. “But that’s why it’s so nice to catch up when we do.
“Oh, my goodness, I’ve just had a thought – in a few years, we’ll be sitting on the side line asking, ‘So, how are the grandkids?’ That’s going to be us. Hopefully that’s a long way away!”
The ANZ Championship screens on Sky Sport until June 22.
About Kelly Bertrand
“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”more of this author