Gill Copley:

A mother of two from Irby on the Wirral explained how netball helped her to connect with other women after having her kids.

Gill Copley, 63, got back into the sport after having her children and is now an active walking netballer, taking part in sessions at Tranmere Rovers Football Club.

The former pre-school worker is now helping launch the new 10-year Adventure Strategy for the game, taking part in an exciting photoshoot with other members of the Netball Family community and showing that netball is for all ages and abilities – no matter what live stage or age.

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And the Merseyside resident said: “I think it’s the camaraderie, it’s getting some exercise, being with people, women, because I’ve got a husband and two sons, so I’ve always been the only woman in the household.

“It’s just great to spend time with other women, get some exercise, have some fun, and just chat and moan about things!

“In a way, it’s given me some more confidence because when I was in my 30s, and became a mum, you stop doing all those things because you’ve got babies to look after and you can lose a lot of confidence.

“But then coming out of all that, once the kids were teenagers, they were at school, they were able to look after themselves. I found that I wanted to get back into something.

“I did start running – that went okay, and then I hurt my hip so when one of the mums at school decided to start up this group, and we were like: ‘yeah, let’s go for it.’”

Gill first tried netball over five decades ago and has experienced the sport in all weathers on the way to discovering walking netball.

She added: “I started netball at 11 in secondary school and loved it.

“Back then I used to play centre because I thought: ‘well, I can’t shoot from there!’

“When I went in the civil service I played again for them, mostly centre, then got married, had children, and everything went to pot and I got out of the habit of playing.

“Then, about seven years ago, the school where I worked, one of the mums decided to get a netball team together and was asking for volunteers.

“It was great fun.  We used to play outside in the winter, on a tarmac surface and we’d have a t-shirt, fleece, jacket, hat and gloves. We were out there some nights in the snow, hail and the rain, but we loved it.

“We did that for four winters and then in December 2019, some of the girls decided they wanted to take it further and get into a competition, so some of them left to join a club that didn’t leave enough of us left to carry on with our games, so in January 2020 I decided to join a walking netball group.

“In March, everything went into lockdown, and I really missed the group because I had started to meet new people. It wasn’t until May this year that our coach Louise was able to start up our walking netball again.

“She found a new venue which is Tranmere Rovers Football Club and it’s great because it’s a great big court and we have fun just running around and chatting.”

Gill is proud of the sport for being so inclusive and welcoming to all, saying: “Netball is a game for life, from young girls to the more mature women who aren’t as active or as supple anymore – but still get so much from being part of the Netball Family.

“I would say to other women like me: get involved, find your local walking netball group, get back on court and have some fun!”

You can find your nearest Walking Netball session here.

You can view the full ‘Adventure Strategy’ here and read more about England Netball’s new brand identity here.

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