Recently, an email went around the netballing fraternity asking for stories of how netball has changed your life. I put together something to send back to them and thought I’d share it here too.
This is going to be a long story … netball has accompanied most of the major changes in my life so far, and I’m only 25!
I’ve played netball on a regular basis since going to secondary school at the age of eleven. As I was a good 6 inches taller than pretty much everyone else, I was put at goal shooter. I wasn’t any good at it but I was very keen and after a couple of years of my mum cringing on the sideline at my hopeless efforts, the penny dropped and I actually got quite good. That’s lesson one, most things can be learned with enough perseverance.
Throughout my teens I played a lot of netball at a high level, representing my club, county, school and even region. I met a lot of people from different walks of life and sort of floated through my teens with fewer distractions than most. With no saturday job (because I was always on court) and no late night (always got a match the next day), the scope for getting into teenage scrapes was much diminished. At the time I thought I was missing out but now I’m not so sure that was the case. I travelled all over the country and went to different events, meeting women of many different ages along the way.
When I accepted my place at university, in with the forms was a leaflet from the AU, asking me to tick which sports I was interested in, as there were introductory sessions in Fresher’s Week. So off I toddled, at 10am on the first morning after arriving while my peers were nursing hangovers, and met the girls. Some of the girls that were there that day are still my closest friends. We laughed, cried and partied together. Involvement with the netball club at university transformed me from the schoolgirl who couldn’t hand in her homework on time (ever) to a young woman with a degree in engineering who started her own sports club and organised information systems for a large campus event. I have learned that I’m a leader, a team player, and someone who can get things done. Without the sport and the other girls in the club I feel sure that I’d have eaten better, had far fewer injuries, rung my mother more often and probably got a lot more sleep while I was at university … but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
Now, three years out of university, I’m on to my third job, my fourth address and my third netball club as well. In every place I’ve met women and girls that have been welcoming, supportive and also a lot of fun. They all have their own reasons for playing, but together they make the club(s) what it is. I’m now starting my first full season with the new club and look forward to another thirty years of this (at least!)