Let’s get one thing straight. I had never played netball in my life; until last night that is. Always at school, netball was catagorized as a girls’ sport. Hence, I was lumped with the guys and ordered to play basketball. A man’s sport. It didn’t bother me to be honest, at the time I was more focused on trying to replicate Michael Jordan and Lebron James, but today when I look at sports I feel as though they should be a lot more gender inclusive. No single sport should be catagorized as either being particularly masculine or feminine. We should rip up the historical ideologies surrounding sport and start afresh.
Anyway, kitted up, water bottle in hand, I made my way to EastBank Academy in the East of Glasgow to get my first taste of netball. The opportunity was first presented to me through my university degree, and more specifically, my sport and community module. A presentation from Scottish Netball made us aware of the work involved in trying to reinvigorate the game in Scotland. Using the successful performance of team Scotland at the Commonwealth games as a catalyst, the programme ‘Bounce Back to Netball’ was born. What I picked up, was that BBN is all about getting people of all ages involved in netball, within a sociable, afforable and fun environment, especially those who maybe had a previous love for the game when they were younger, and would like to relight their passion. Personally, for me, the name could arguably be a hindrance, it is quite suggestive of having had to have played previous, if indeed the ultimate aim is to get as many people involved as possible.
Arriving, with three fellow students, we received a warm welcome from everyone and were immediately made to feel part of the group. Not surprisingly, the group was made up entirely of women, although it was nice to see a split in the age demographic. I was thrown head first into the seesion along with my fellow classmates; and let me tell you, it was incredibly physically demanding. Drills with the ball followed a warm-up, and then we were straight into games. The women were amazing in terms of telling me what my role consisted of, and where I could, and couldn’t venture within the court. The matches were fast-paced, intense and really enjoyable ! I loved that after every game we swithched position so everyone had the chance to experience several different elements of the game. Although, can I say that my shooting was awful ! I’ll definetely be back to try and improve on that.
For me, it was a fantastic first experience of playing the game of netball. Everything about the club was great, from the members, to the facility and equipment, to the general atmosphere. I would highly reccomend everyone to give it a try, especially if you’re looking for a means to keep-fit and become more sociable ! It’s a great initiative from Scottish Netball, one which I believe will continue to grow in the aftermath of the games. The only downside for me is the lack of male participation. I don’t know what could be done to break the overriding stereotypes surrounding the game, but speaking from personal experience, from a young age, both genders should be encouraged to play. As I said at the beginning, I don’t know how any sport can be classified as being specific to one gender in today’s world. Just give it a go !
In conclusion, I would like to thank Scottish Netball for allowing me this insight, and to the club at EastBank Academy who were fantastic. I’ll be back (you’re reading this with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice). Following, I will try to document more of my own community sport experiences over the coming months, as I enjoy getting out and witnessing sporting programmes in action, at all levels.