How Walking Netball helped Vicki

Vicki (pictured in the middle) and her local netball club, Todmorden Tornadoes

From chasing the Northern Lights to making her netball club’s video go viral, Vicki has been pushing the boundaries since turning 50, all thanks to the power of netball.

Vicki, from West Yorkshire, has seen her life transformed thanks to the kindness and support of her local netball club, Todmorden Tornadoes.

After helping run an out-of-school netball club, Vicki was keen to get involved herself. Luckily, one of her colleagues knew of a local Walking Netball group.

Nervous about walking into the unknown and restarting her netball journey, Vicki plucked up the courage to go on a chilly February evening.

“I took a deep breath and walked through the door,” Vicki began to explain. “My heart was pounding; my palms were sweaty and I had a distinct wobble in my legs. I felt like I was walking through some saloon door out in the Wild West!

“As I walked in all eyes turned to look at me and for a brief moment, I thought I’d done the wrong thing and was about to turn heel, but then the staring eyes became beaming smiles and I was welcomed with open arms.”

After a few difficult years at work, Vicki saw her confidence sap away and began to experience high-functioning social anxiety. This in turn has made it difficult for her to get out and about but since starting netball again, Vicki has started to see some positive changes.

“Netball has helped my social anxiety. I feel a lot of anxiety if I have to socialise with my friends and workmates. I’m paranoid at times that I’m being judged and talked about and it makes me very self-conscious. I also don’t like crowded places, but I never feel like that with my netball teammates. They help me feel comfortable and it gave me the confidence to attend a Manchester Thunder game last season.”

In January 2022, Vicki turned 50. To mark the milestone, she decided to push herself, changing how she would live her life by setting a list of 50 things she would like to do – including making her netball club’s social media video go viral.

“Nothing on there is too tricky to achieve – there’s no bungee jumps or skydiving! Just lots of things I’ve never got around to, like watching ET or the Titanic, indulging myself which I never do, doing a charity event, visiting a new city, chasing the Northern Lights, becoming arty, making a stone sculpture, walking a suspension bridge, paintballing and making a video go viral!”

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The video created with her club, Todmorden Tornadoes, exemplifies the fun and light-hearted nature of many Walking Netball sessions that take place up and down the county.

As a programme, Walking Netball is a slower version of the game we all love, designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level. It’s also a way for people who have either dropped out of the sport and want to start again or are new to the sport but want to have a go, to come together and meet like-minded people and create new friendships.

“It quite literally changed my life. That always sounds like a cliché but it genuinely did,” explains Vicki.

“There are people there with their own demons to deal with, but you’d never know. For those 60 minutes, there are people around you who have an ear or a shoulder if you need one. If that’s not what you want, it’s 60 minutes to focus on something else other than what’s going on around you in a ‘safe space’.

“It’s also about learning new skills or remembering the ones you maybe had when you were at school. It’s about enjoying a level of exercise suited to all abilities, it’s about keeping your mind active and it’s about having your own personal therapy group, but above all, it’s about having fun!

“My journey has been incredible. My confidence has grown, my fitness has grown and my social circle has grown and none of this would have been possible without the love, dedication, support and compassion of the like-minded people and the wonderful coaches who have given me a reason to get up and get out every Wednesday night.”

A year on from when Vicki turned 50, the club and the Walking Netball group has been recognised for the incredible work its doing in the community, helping people like Vicki to get involved in netball, and has been nominated for a Pride of Todmorden Community award. Congratulations to everyone involved at the Walking Netball group at Todmorden Tornadoes.

If you’re interested in finding out more and having a go at Walking Netball, click here.

Whether you are just starting out, play regularly or want to return to the game, there’s a type of netball to suit your background and ability. Here’s a whole host of different ways that you can master your skills and have fun out on court.

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