The New Zealand netball community is in mourning after the news Silver Ferns great Margaret Forsyth has died, aged 59.
The Silver Ferns confirmed that Forsyth died earlier today after a lifetime’s dedication to her chosen sport.
“Through her athletic ability, skillset, indomitable spirit and willingness to give back, much of it on a voluntary basis, Margaret touched many,” the Silver Ferns said.
“In the process, she has left a significant imprint on netball and the wider community, now forever captured in the annuals of time to be acclaimed and admired by those who follow.”
Able to play both shooting positions as well as wing attack, Forsyth was recognised as one of the best all-round netballers of her generation thanks in part to a wide-shouldered, trim athletic build, strong work ethic and an abundance of natural skill.
The Waikato shooter made headlines when she earned her first Silver Ferns selection in 1979 as a 17-year-old seventh former at Hillcrest High School ahead of netball’s fourth world tournament in Trinidad & Tobago.
At the tournament, the Silver Ferns finished in a three-way tie for top honours with the hosts and Australia but Forsyth earned her own piece of history by becoming the youngest Silver Fern to play at a Netball World Cup – a record that still remains in tact over 40 years later.
Forsyth became a regular Silver Fern in teams selected between 1979 and 1987 during which time she played in three world championships, winning two.
She also featured in the team that won the World Games final in London in 1985 followed by the all-conquering 1987 team which claimed the Netball World Cup title in Scotland.
She described those two years as the standouts of her career but soon after, Forsyth’s career came to end, in 1987 thanks to a degenerative knee condition which forced her retirement at just 27 with 64 caps alongside her name.
After retiring, Forsyth made a smooth transition to coaching and held many positions over the years, including head coach of Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in 2017 and 2018, assistant coach of the FAST5 Ferns in 2017 and the NZA team in 2016.
In last year’s New Year’s Honours, Forsyth’s 50-year love affair with netball was acknowledged when she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM) for her services to netball and the community.
“I love the game, I love thinking about the game, about the future of the game,” Forsyth said after being honoured.
“I just think it’s an amazing vehicle for girls and women, that they can learn so much about being a leader, a contributor.”
Away from sport, the Hamilton community enjoyed the benefits of Forsyth’s desire to give back as well as she progressed from local educator to front-line community police officer, then local government politician.