How Della Vining shared her journey to top-level netball with her late dad, cancer care campaigner Blair Vining

Cancer care campaigner Blair Vining has missed a big family moment.

His daughter Della has been selected to play top-level representative netball this weekend - just weeks after his death.

Della, just 17 years old, has been given the call up to play netball at the senior level for the Southern Steel.

"It's been a step for Dad and I, it's been our goal, a goal that I shared with Dad was to take up netball professionally," she told Newshub.

But Della's dad, Blair Vining, isn't here to see it. He died from bowel cancer eight weeks ago.

After she got her Steel dress, Della knew what to do.

"I drove out to Winton, I took it to show Dad," she said. "I've got a photo. He was the first person I showed." 

The Southern Steel is one of the country's top teams and Della, a goal keep, will play for them in a pre-season tournament as a "training partner," like an apprentice.

Coach Reinga Bloxham told Newshub Della will get court time and she backs her.

"She's got a real passion for the game," Bloxham said. "She backs herself 100 percent and that's what I like about her.

"She sees the ball and just goes for it."

"Passion" and "backing yourself" qualities Della shares with Blair, who fought for better cancer care for all Kiwis. 

"He kind of just like told me, 'if you really want something you just have to work really hard for it'," Della said. "So when I'm on the court, running and sweating I think, he's the reason I'm here, he's my purpose."

Blair is a legend in Southland and the love for the Vining family is shared by the Southern Steel.

"They are just like another team of sisters, another family here," Della said.

Her next goal is making the Steel full time.

Blair Vining.
Blair Vining. Photo credit: Newshub.

Whatever happens - Blair will be in her thoughts.

"No matter what, I'm going to remember him on the sideline going, 'Go Della, keep going!'"

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