International sporting events can do wonders to inspire the next generation of athletes. 

Take the 2014 netball game played between the Australian Diamonds and England, for example. 

Held at Bendigo Stadium, the game was an opportunity for an up-and-coming local netballer named Ruby Barkmeyer to meet one of her heroes.

"I was part of the Bendigo Bank Academy of Sport, and I had the opportunity to mop the floors for the game," said Ruby. 

"I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I remember Caitlin Thwaites walking past and I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to get a picture with her,'" she added. 

Flash forward a few years, and Ruby is a 2023 Melbourne Vixens training partner, and Caitlin is one of her coaches.

"It's pretty funny looking back at that photo now," said Ruby. 

With Bendigo Stadium set to host netball at the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Ruby is confident that a huge opportunity to inspire the next generation of athletes is just over the horizon.

"It's going to be an awesome opportunity for regional kids to see the world's best athletes up close and in person," said Ruby.

"Hopefully it will inspire them to become a Diamond one day, or to represent Australia in their chosen sport," she added.

Bendigo Stadium is the Goldfield region’s premier sporting and entertainment venue. It contains 10 indoor multi-purpose courts, 12 outdoor netball courts and a 4,000-seat show court arena, making it the natural choice to host netball. 

Bendigo will be a host community at Victoria 2026, alongside Ballarat, Geelong, Gippsland and Shepparton. 

The city will welcome hundreds of athletes from dozens of countries for 12 days of competition between 17-29 March 2026.

For local athletes like Ruby, the Games are also an opportunity for their home city to step onto the world stage.

"Recently, there have been so many big events that have helped to make people aware of what Bendigo is and what it has to offer," she said.

"Hosting part of the Games in Bendigo will show the world that this beautiful, vibrant city can host more big, international sporting events,"
Ruby Barkmeyer

With the countdown to the Games underway, Ruby is confident that what takes place at Bendigo Stadium will be unforgettable.

"I've never forgotten the time I saw the Diamonds in Bendigo, and I know 2026 will be something the local kids and parents will remember forever."

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where Bendigo Stadium is located, the Dja Dja Wurrung People.