A Nation's Obsession With Netball

Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
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Flag of New Zealand  , Auckland,
Saturday, May 1, 2010

I've often wondered why New Zealand have such a fabulous netball team - The Silver Ferns.  Well I now know the answer.  Once the winter season is upon us, it seems that every female pupil begins netball training!  Every Saturday morning the young female population of Auckland decends on the Te Pai courts and the Trust Stadium to the point of there being traffic jams and virtually no where to park.  I have honestly never seen anything quite like it!

Lucy showed an interest in netball as soon as she started school here, even though she had no real understanding or concept of the game................she just wanted to play it!  After joining the Y3 squad and then me finding out that actually I was going to coach/manage them, we thought a trip to watch the Northern Mystics play was a great idea.

The Northern Mystics are an absolute inspiration to watch, with several of the players also being Silver Ferns.  We headed off to the Trust Stadium with friends, hoping that both Lucy and I would pick up some tips.  I unfortunately made the mistake of suggesting to Lucy that she watched their footwork, hoping that it would help her understand what to do with her feet!  How wrong was I?!  They were so quick, it actually looked as though they were running with the ball!  That aside, we had a great time, even more so with the team winning.  Lucy had enjoyed the excitement of the crowd and the skill of the players and Dan had loved having his face painted in the Mystics colours.  I had picked up a few tips from watching the umpires and players and I think Jeff enjoyed watching athletic ladies running around! Everyone was happy!

Lucy's first match caused much worry and concern the night before, after lots of tears we eventually managed to convince her that it would all be great fun and no, there wouldn't be as many people coming to watch her as at the Mystic game! 

All of the Funster's team played well and had fun, even if at this stage they had very little understanding of the game.  It was a game run in slow motion, but our girls were starting to understand where they could run, what to do with their feet and were more accurate with their throwing and passing.  I found it far harder umpiring a more lenient rulled game, than using the full rules.  I found it incredibly difficult deciding whether a child had 'shuffled' or 'run' with the ball.  Some calls were obvious, others were incredibly difficult.  I decided very early on that I needed someone else to umpire so that I could give the girls coaching advice as the other side were doing.  Luckily for us we managed to hold a 0-0 draw, the other side scored but thankfully it was after the whistle!  We really didn't want the girls to get a thrashing on their first outing.  Judging by their faces they were happy with the result and had all had fun which was the main thing.

The Funster's second game was altogether very different.  It is amazing what a few sessions on a court can do with me and the parents running in every direction ensuring the children knew what they were doing.  A few screams and shouts of encouragement - it worked absolute wonders!  The girls played fabulous, considering it was their second match, with a 2-1 win, their confidence grew as they left the court.  Let's see how long we can keep this up!


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