For those of you who don’t know, Channel Nine’s The Block has hit the small screen yet again and this time around we have a local girl getting down and dusty. Season 14 sees Somerville born and bred former pro netballer Bianca Chatfield and her teammate Carla Dziwoki (another former netballing pro) hit St Kilda’s Gatwick Hotel in a quest for makeover perfection, and these two girls aren’t going down without a fight. Must be the champion sportswomen in them, or the fact that die-hard ‘Block Head’ Bianca was determined to be part of the much-loved show she had watched for years.
“I was gutted that we didn’t make it last year. I used to drive past incognito checking out what was going on and I slipped through on the media night (Bianca now works in sports media and leadership) taking mental notes. There were 45,000 entries this year with only five teams of two being successful. You sign up for three and a half months of living and breathing The Block. You can’t do anything else. It’s like life on steroids, but what an experience! I’ve wanted to be on the show since retiring from netball.”
Bianca began playing netball on the Peninsula when she was 11 and went on to become one of the youngest netballers to represent Australia. She was the vice-captain of the Australian gold medal Commonwealth Games team in 2014, but she grew up in Somerville with her two sisters surrounded by building and renovating. “Dad was and still is a builder on the Peninsula and it was not unusual to spend holidays on a building site learning by osmosis — that’s why I did the project managing and Carla did more of the shopping and styling. I renovated my apartment in town too, but there was still lots to learn. We had a great team of tradies helping us.
“When we first rocked up, the other contestants thought ‘Oh, here’s two girls, this will be a breeze’. But they didn’t realise that our netballing careers were based on problem-solving and endurance. It was hard work, but to see the apartment transform was so satisfying. The other contestants were great too. We’ve made long-lasting friendships.”
Bianca and Carla have been watching the show unfold with the rest of us. “It’s been fascinating seeing what they’ve kept in and what the other teams were going through at the same time. Every Saturday night before the Sunday reveal was an all-nighter trying to get everything finished. We were up every morning between 5am and 6am. Once we had to rip up floors and start again, but it was all worth it.”
Would she renovate one more time? “Yes; there’s so much satisfaction in it. I love beginning and completing new projects, but I still take time to get back home (her family is in Somers now), pull out the paddle board and check in with the dolphins. I’ll always be a water baby.” And a successful one at that.