A Personal Glossary of Netball
When I was in primary school I was desperate to start my netball career. I was certain that “career” was the right word as I planned to play netball for Australia and therefore become rich and famous. Behold my nesting dolls of delusion.
Joining my first team, Newstead Junior 2, was the start of a very steep netball learning curve. Unfortunately it wasn’t steep enough to lead to international netball, but I still learnt a few things, which I’d like to share.
When I was in high school I played a couple of seasons of mid-week indoor netball. This has all the same rules as outdoor netball except you’re allowed to kill people. It was an incredibly rough competition. Luckily the courts were surrounded with nets and there was no bitumen so breaking a pelvis didn’t hurt.
A team from a local low-security prison were also in the competition. One week one of their players threatened to kill Julia. This was clearly unacceptable. So at half-time our captain swapped Julia out of that position. And swapped me in. I was baffled by this decision because I tend to shit people at the best of times.
I kept my distance and the woman only threatened to punch me in the face. I didn’t play my best half of netball ever, but it wasn’t the point. I had discovered something important about myself; people didn’t always want to kill me.
The next week this lady apologised, explaining that she hadn’t been taking her medication. No worries I said. No worries at all.
As a general rule, the prison team were much less frightening than the young mums team who brought their toddlers to the game, smoked next to the court and absolutely hated our university-destined guts, to which I can only say fair enough as I imagine we were pretty annoying.
For me, netball and losing are intertwined. I have never been a member of a winning netball team. I’ve never played in a final. I probably lost 95% of all netball games I played in. The score for my first ever netball game was 17 – 1. With losing so inevitable I set other goals. I might feel like we’d had a great game because we achieved half the score of the winning team, or because we won one quarter, or because no-one wanted to kill me (see Indoor Netball).
Men playing netball may seem shocking but once you accept that not everyone will be classically trained (and you might witness such horrors as a Goal Attack taking a free pass outside the goal circle) mixed netball can be quite fun. I’ve filled in for a few mixed netball teams in Melbourne and have mainly enjoyed it without tsking.
One of the proudest achievements of my life was winning the Most Improved trophy in my first netball season. I did deserve that trophy. I had started the season playing half games as a Wing Attack. I ended the year getting the occasional quarter as Centre. The lesson is, make sure you start as badly as you can to maximise apparent improvement.
These are a pair of black underpants worn over your normal underpants so that no-one sees your underpants when your incredibly short skirt flies into the air. Here’s a thought – shorts.
Orange quarters are the perfect food for half-time. All athletes like to be sticky and have bits in their teeth.
Ra Ra Ra
When I played classical netball, at the end of each game both teams were required to stand in a circle with our arms around each other and chant:
Three cheers for “Winning Team”, Ra, Ra, Ra.
Three cheers for “Losing Team”, Ra, Ra, Ra.
Three cheers for the umpires, Ra, Ra, Ra.
I presume we were made to do this to prepare us for the for the indignities of giving birth.
Socks were very controversial on the ’90s netball court. Ankle sports socks were the fashion but were banned. Everyone still wore them (except me because my mum wouldn’t let me) and usually nothing was said. The exception was on the one occasion when my C Grade team Wesley Hill unexpectedly and uniquely won a game. Our opposition team (I say that, but I mean their mums) put in an official complaint about our socks and we didn’t get the match points.
I like to hope that these dark ’90s days of socking shaming teenage girls have passed, but I thought that about Pauline Hanson.
I am always shocked by sports where the players criticise the umpires. This was not allowed when I played netball. I don’t know how they achieved such discipline but I think it involved making examples of people.
I only personally umpired one game of netball. I had aced the written netball umpiring test and felt quietly confident. Then I discovered that in real life it’s all a lot more confusing than in the book. No-one actually abused me while the game was going on, but after there were a number of official complaints, including from the team who won.
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