There’s a kiss of winter in the air. Duvets are replacing waffle blankets, there are stew recipes in the Sunday papers and if I worried about pedicures, I’d worry even less for a few months.
And it’s football season… yeah yeah we get more excited for rugby or cricket. But equally exciting, for more South Africans, it’s netball time.
The thing about netball is thousands keep doing it. AFL players in their 30s and 40s are remarkable, and practically crippled, but look around a netball park on a winter Saturday or a sports centre any night of the week and you’ll see girls of all ages – from 8 to 80 looking for an attacking break or a sneaky bounce pass.
Somehow, I’ve become an umpire, which is not especially stressful at the littler levels, unless you come across a coach who was a state rep player in 1997 and is at pains to remind you of that fact. Also, I have to wear white shorts. And now NWSD will be having their very own “Netty “team. (An all-male team will be taking part as well dare I say)
There are many reasons to love Netball. Here are mine:
1. Sharon Strzelecki, who proved that netball, welcomes all.
2. Women organize netball. I’m sorry if this offends, but it makes a difference. I used to attend my godsons rugby matches coached and organized by the fathers and let’s just say I finally had time to do my eyebrows.
3. Netball the only sport where players get a manicure (of sorts) before the game. Nail inspection please ladies.
4. Other than buggered ankles, there are few serious injuries. Head protection is unnecessary in netball and this speaks volumes. Note, however visors must be soft. Nothing worse than a poke from a rigid peak.
5. Fellas are welcome. Mixed netball is thriving. On the other hand, co-ed football is pretty much unheard of (except touch). And no, cheerleaders don’t count as players.