PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Netball mums are taking over the country one scabby-kneed child at a time.
I know this because, after playing at a high(ish) level for 14 years, and then coaching for another six, I’ve had a piece of my soul chewed off and stomped on by approximately 157 of them.
You think Dance Mums are bad? Well, Netball Mums and their batshit crazy antics deserve a prime time TV spot AND a bloody blockbuster horror movie.
I honestly believe we need a lockable cage installed at every netball centre to combat this growing epidemic. Let me give you a few examples why.
When I was the coach of an Under 13 team, I received DAILY PHONECALLS in the lead-up to our grand final. Each and every one of them was from Cindy*, the mother of the team's third best goaler (who had the coachability of a common sock).
They all went a lil' something like this:
"Oh Michelle darrrrrling, it's Cindy. I know it's late and you're probably about to head off to bed, but I just wanted to discuss with you Catherine's* positioning on Thursday night. Do you realise we've won 97.35 per cent of quarters when she's played in Goal Attack? Isn't that just remaaaaarkable? Do you think she'll be starting in Goal Attack for the grand final then? She really does love playing Goal Attack."
Cindy rocked up to every game with a clipboard and pen behind her ear, frantically marking down every goal the other players missed so she could scurry up at the end of the fourth quarter. (For some bizarre, unknown reason, Cindy's stats never quite matched up with mine.)
"Amabella only shot at 63 per cent! It's good my Catherine was a sharp shooter tonight. Isn't that good, Michelle? What a relief you had Catherine. By the way, which parent was in charge of doing Best and Fairest votes tonight? Do you know where I could find them?"
For every Cindy, there are at least five Helens.
When I was on the selection panel for an Under 15 representative team, a Helen trotted up every chance she could to sneak a peek at our draft teams.
Her excuse? She was "checking we were okay for water and coffee".
Watch: Women share the time they felt like a 'bad mum'. (Post continues after video.)
The next time, she was 'just making sure we were aware her daughter Jessica has only been on twice - and NEITHER of those times was in Centre, and Centre is Jessica's second favourite position behind Goal Attack. And maybe Jessica should play in Centre really soon because she has shin splints and sometimes that means she won't run as fast so really the current game should be stopped immediately and Jessica should hop into Centre. Or Goal Attack.' (Did she mention Jessica also likes Goal Attack?)
After the trials wrapped up, each and every Helen would send up their poor children to give the selectors an individually wrapped box of chocolates with a handwritten card.
"Thanks so much for all your hard work! Can't wait to see the final team lists for season 2017! Love always, Helen and Jessica xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
But there's one type of Netball Mum that still gives me nightmares, who makes me wake up in the middle of the night screaming "NO SHE CAN'T FUCKING PLAY GOAL ATTACK. WE NEED A FREAKING WING DEFENCE."
They're the ones who - when you don't select their daughter in the A team, or don't give them a full game in the final - decide you SIMPLY MUST have a personal vendetta against them and their 11-year-old.
Yep! Sharlene can't see any other plausible reason why precious Nevaeh ("it's Heaven backwards, isn't that just adorable!") wasn't put in the top team. Instead, Sharlene is going to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the president of the netball club to discuss how you're not a coach, you're a wild sociopath, and apparently hell-bent on seeing her daughter fail.
What will follow is an insult-laden email, where Sharlene accuses you of having a penchant for evil, a shoddy moral compass and a membership with the Illuminati.
According to Sharlene - you don't actually have a life. You BLOODY LIVE for the $500 pay cheque and the bouquet of flowers you get at the end of a 22-week season.
Because, if you haven't heard, Nevaeh is destined to become the next Laura Geitz. Actually, not Geitz, Nevaeh is going to be the next Natalie Medhurst, because she just looooooves Goal Attack. She really, really, really loves it. And you're squashing that dream, you despicable Under-13-local-netball-coach-who-sometimes-makes-her-play-Wing-Defence, you.
If your daughter or son plays netball, and any of this sounds oddly familiar, I highly recommend you pipe down, step away from the nasty email, and cool it.
Otherwise, I will personally install a big-ass cage at your local netball court, and it'll have your name written all over it.
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