This is (an edited) post I wrote two years ago about #2’s first experience at the NSW State Age Netball Championships. (#1 was by then an old hand, it was her third year at it)
Our girls have been really lucky to have had this experience – to once a year be involved in a round robin tournament against about 25 other teams from all around the state.
Posted: 4th July 2007:
Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that the first ever rep netball team our new little association has sent to State Age would punch above their weight, and come through as Winners of Division 3. It’s pretty hard to explain the enormity of it, … but trust me… it is HUGE. And pretty damned exciting – even if it ruins my ‘cred’ with my daughter, because I’d given her THE speech (after some tears at one of the lead up carnivals when they lost more then half their games) You know, the speech along the lines of ‘It isn’t just about winning.” I also added: ” And you can’t expect to win like #1 did with [the other association] two years ago.. even that was unbelievable. This is a small, new association, with an extremely small pool of players to select from. If you win half the games that would be a fantastic achievement… And there will be teams who don’t win any games! Anything you win is a bonus!’
*Rasberries to you, then, mum!* (Yep, I’m chewing on those words still! As is M. who two years ago said how sad it was that #2 wouldn’t get the chance to experience the same ‘high’ as #1 when our club split from it’s host association, formed a new one and decided to put in its own rep team. I mean.. what chance did such a tiny association have?!)
So, this competition runs for 3 days – and netball teams in four age divisions (12s, 13s, 14s, 15s) from all over the state play a round robin competition in 3 Divisions, based on the size of their association (and past performance). Championship Division has pretty much just teams from the big metropolitan areas (obviously they have a huge pool of players to select from.) Division 2 and 3 are from the smaller cities and towns. Each division in each age has around 23-25 teams in it, so over the 3 days the girls play over 20 games of netball (each one being 2 x 11 minute halves), pretty much on a one game on, one game off basis. Full on! 50 courts going at once (plus about four indoor ones that the 15s got to play on.
Really, all we hoped was that this team might win half their games. That would have been an achievement. The first day, well… they just kept winning! Wow! The second day they only dropped one, and drew one! By then they were equal leaders, and the pressure was on. They could actually win this if they kept their heads and kept playing well. With a smart coach who had already ensured that she’d fulfilled the 30% rule (each player must get 30% of games) by the end of the second day, she was able to put in her best team against the tougher teams.. The girls held their nerve and only lost one more.. while the team that had been their equal leaders overnight fell apart.
That’s my girl with the ball. She plays Centre, which means she gets the run of the whole court except the goal circles.. The coach played her all bar 1 and a half games… She is like the Duracell/Energizer Bunny – she just keeps running and running… often running her counterpart Centre ragged….
To add to the general exhaustion of the weekend, the weather the first two days was bloody freezing – with a chilling wind whipping in from the south-west (ie. snow country!) As spectators we were rugged up with polar fleece tops, fleece lined jackets, beanies, scarves, and we weren’t hot! You can imagine how it must have been for the girls – particularly those like ours who are from warmer climates, and with little experience playing in the wind.
And meanwhile, amidst the building excitement with the 12s, we were walking back and forth to watch #1’s team play in Division 2 with the other association. They won Division 3 two years ago, when she was in the 12s (and with the same coach #2 has now) Of course their courts were rarely anywhere near each other, so we did a lot of hiking back and forth – sometimes watching together and swapping courts at half time, and sometimes separating and swapping with each other at half time. Of course they were rostered on the same time slot.. I suppose we can just be thankful that this year Division 2 and 3 were at the same complex.
Now, given that I am not and have never been a netballer, you won’t get much more out of me by way of explanation of it all (‘thank god’ they say) … Despite having watched a hell of a lot of netball over the past few years, there’s still a lot of the game I don’t understand!! Probably never will – I don’t have a team sport mind like my husband does. My passion for it is with the passion my daughters have for it, and as long as they are enjoying themselves I am happy. I had #2 hopping up and down the night before they left, saying “I’m excited” – and so she was, all the way through (I kept checking!) despite the blisters, despite the early starts, and the horrible playing conditions the first two days. She’s been just itching to be there playing ever since she watched #1 do it 2 years ago. And while winning isn’t everything, and I will always remind her of that, it is a very tasty icing indeed!