With a reasonable knowledge of the rules I’ll advise the coach on who is playing well and who should be dragged off the court, although she doesn’t seem to take much notice of my suggestions.
Anyway, the point here is that knowing rules while on the couch, is a heck of a lot different to being roped into an actual game of netball against people who know what they are doing.
And that is what happened on Saturday afternoon at the Arorangi netball courts for the inaugural Walking Netball event.
Despite being there to take photographs I was volunteered to get on court to have a go.
Now here it has to be said I was no fan of wearing a bib. “I only wear a bib when eating,” I joked to one of the organisers. “Thank goodness I didn’t have to wear a skirt that’s all I can say.”
So with my white WD bib on and my camera around my neck I began to play my first game of netball, albeit one where you could not run, or jump.
“Can you tackle?” I asked. Mmmmm, guess not.
A brief survey of my team-mates and opponents showed a very mixed bag of players. There were some young guys in their late teens or 20s; some ex-players who may not have been as fit as they once were but clearly knew what they were doing; a couple of youngsters who in warm-up didn’t seem to miss a shot; some older guys and then … there was me. Probably the oldest person on the court.
Righto, the opposition player is in the circle so the game is afoot.
While netball can be played at breakneck speed, Walking Netball is, well, more sedate. It is aimed at older folk, younger folk and those former players who may have retired due to injury.
The usual rules apply but one foot must always be planted on the ground, you can only hold on to the ball for four seconds, you cannot jump and running is a big no-no.
As with all the sports I have played I get caught up in the action and in Walking Netball I got up court in the action … and got penalised for having my WD bib in the opponent’s D. That is the goal shooter’s D-shaped line under the net.
Oooops, sorry gals and guys.
Barely had I wandered back to my position than I was penalised again, this time for not being behind another line. Huh?
Okay, more rules explained and back to the game.
As said I was there to photograph the match and so when I got the opportunity I’d grab a few snaps. Things were going well – line confusion apart – until the ball was fired over my head to an opponent behind me. Being an ex-Aussie Rules player I thought “beauty, I’ve got this covered” and went for a high-flying overhead mark. As I was leaving the ground I instantly thought “No leaping!” and tried to pull out of the attempt.
The result was an almighty crash on to the court. Now I hope I didn’t let out my usual expletive as I worked out where my camera was, and my phone, wallet and everything else I had in my pockets on court.
The only injury was to my ego and so I was determined to lift my game and help keep us a couple of goals up.
The whistle soon sounded signalling at the end of the first seven-minute quarter. Time to regroup. Now it was a beautiful Rarotongan day with blue skies and hot sun. Everyone was perspiring and clearly we all had a good, mostly gentle workout.
The next quarter we switched sides and once again I got lost on court, but I was reading the game better and began to know what I was doing. Sort of …
It was a close contest and everyone was having a ball. There were lots of laughs and good on-court humour.
The funny thing about seven-minute terms is that they are over so quickly. Half-time came and went and I was ready to make sure my next opponent barely got a touch of the round object.
Just before the start of the third quarter I saw my new opponent and was horrified. They had done a dirty on me. No it was not a seven-foot-tall monster with arms the length of the court – it was a primary school kid (maybe) who was all of three feet tall!
Mmmm, guess a coathanger is out, I thought.
Now you can’t be mean to a young lady and so my tactics changed from block everything to trying to look as if I was trying to block everything.
Everyone was in on the “be nice” plays and the littlies had a great time.
In fact everyone at the court had a great time.
Walking Netball is going to be a regular competition and while I am on the island I will go along to make up the numbers. Next time I will remember “no running, no jumping, no camera”.
Thanks to everyone at Walking Netball who made it such an enjoyable time.
PS: The White Bibs won by a couple of goals. No credit to me.