Four years ago I went along to a new netball session at my local leisure centre.
Billed as Back to Netball (B2N), a reintroduction to the sport, I thought I would go along and see what it was like.
Having not played in about ten years I was unsure what to expect. Scared that I would be out of place, totally out played and feeling insecure, I very nearly chickened out. In the end I didn’t and I am extremely glad that I went along.
From the moment I arrived I was made to feel welcome by the host, and once the session started I realised that although there were people there with differing abilities, everyone to some extent felt the same as I did.
The sessions started out basic, so everyone was included, fun warmups got us all laughing and chatting to one another. Over the next few sessions some people stayed, some came along every now and then and new players turned up. I rediscovered my love of the sport I played all through school and at university.
I was soon asked if I would be interested in coaching. Having previously been a gymnastics and trampoline coach, I was intrigued. I started with volunteering at the B2N sessions, umpiring, and generally helping where needed, and I was soon signed up to do my UKCC Level 1 coaching course. Level 1 passed, I was then asked to consider going for my Level 2, by that point I was hooked! Helped by some fantastic coaches, I took the challenge and passed that Level 2.
Once I passed my Level 2 I led my own B2N sessions in Petersfield and Hampshire. We knew it was going to be popular, as the closest sessions previously were a good 20-minute drive away. I had lined up two volunteers to help. I am so glad I did, that first session had 52 ladies turn up! Each and every one of them left that first session with a smile on their face.
During this time, the group of ladies I played with decided we enjoyed playing together so much so that we wanted more! After going through a number of names, finally Portsmouth Pivotals was formed and we joined a local league. We haven’t looked back since.
In the last few months I went to see the Fast 5s at the O2, which was my first experience of live netball at that level. The atmosphere was amazing! What a fantastic introduction to live netball. Next came the Quad Series at the Copperbox. This time I went with some of my team mates, we had such an amazing day, first watching South Africa vs Australia, and then what we had really gone to see: England vs New Zealand. The crowd was on a whole different level, loud doesn’t begin to describe it.
And then there came the Commonwealth Games. WOW! Those few days were full of crazy, fantastic matches. The England Roses really were playing some fantastic netball! Heart in mouth, emotions stretched to their limits, especially in the final match – words can’t describe the feelings I had when Helen Housby scored the final winning shot.
So thanks to that first shaky start, that very nearly didn’t happen, I have gone from not having played netball in over ten years and not knowing the names of any of the international or Vitality Netball Superleague players, to coaching my team, playing in a league, stacking up tickets for various matches, including some for the World Cup in Liverpool next year, and of course making some fantastic friends.
I think that out of all my experiences over the last few years, the friends I have made are top of the list (although that gold medal comes in at a close second). Little did I know how much of a netball fiend I would become, and I couldn’t have/wouldn’t have done it without the encouragement and support I received from those involved in B2N.
All this thanks to that first B2N session!
If you’re looking to get back to netball, find your nearest session here