With just days left of 2017, I’ve got a question for you. What’s the single best decision you made this year?
Me? I don’t even need thinking music. The best thing I did this year was join a social netball team.
Best. Thing. I. Did.
And the weird bit is that back in January, joining a netball team – in fact participating in any sport AT ALL for any reason – was not on the agenda.
But sometime in May an old school mum friend put the call out looking for a few new players for a team. And I said yes.
Yes before I had time to chicken out.
Yes before I came up with a dozen excuses why it was a stupid idea.
Yes before I, err, thought it through properly.
I mean I hadn’t played for 15 years.
I could barely remember the rules other than ‘offside’ and ‘no stepping’.
I didn’t know many of the women on the team.
I was going to need a babysitter every week since my husband is forever on-call as an obstetrician.
And then there’s the minor detail that I was unfit, out of shape and not in terrific health. (I’d been diagnosed with Dengue Fever in January!)
Seriously, what the hell, Rebecca Sparrow? Are you drunk? You playing netball is a TERRIBLE idea.
But that yes didn’t budge. YES. I’M IN.
And I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did.
Putting on that bib each week and stepping out onto the court every Monday night has given me something I struggle to put into words.
It’s given me a bit of myself back.
Because when I step through the nets and onto the court, no one is asking me for a cup of water or to fix a broken Lego toy or find swimming goggles. Because for 40 minutes a week I get to move my body, heart racing, sweat pouring off me as I run and leap and jump and try my best to keep up with the opposing Wing Attack (who so often looks about 12. They see me on court and their eyes light up because they’re opposing Grandma).
But I love it anyway.
I love being on a team again. That feeling of belonging, of being a part of something whether it’s a win or a lose or a draw. I love the team strategising, the post game celebrations or debriefs or even the “What the hell, can you believe that?” whinging about the ref’s unfair calls. I love the shouts of “Unlucky, Bec!’ when I fail to intercept the ball from the WA in the opening pass or “Nice work!” when I’m on my game. And I love yelling out “YESSSSSS!” when Mel or Leah and Maxine masterfully shoot for a goal and it goes in.
I love the jokes on court between our opponents and us. Last week when the ball was down the other end we were speaking in South African accents reminding each other that the passes had to be ‘hard and fast” (um, you had to be there).
I love feeling strong which is no mean feat for a 45-year-old, slightly pudgy, desperately unfit woman who has given birth to four kids. In fact that’s what netball does for me. It makes me FEEL Strong. Tough. Elated. Disappointed. Irritated. Proud. Exhausted.
Listen: Bec Sparrow speaks about an etiquette issue dividing her group of girlfriends. (Post continues below...)
Which leads me to my next point: I am the worst player on our team, The Goal Diggers. I’m not being self-deprecating; I’m actually THE WORST PLAYER. But I don’t care because this isn’t about being the best. It’s about showing up. So I show up. Toni or Katie hand me my bib, Sarah and I walk down our end of the court and I give it my all. And every game without fail there’s at least one moment where I help get that goddamn ball down to our end of the goal that leaves me feeling like I’m Gal Gadot in a Wing Defence bib. I feel part of something.
In the whirl (or more like hamster wheel) of my life of school drop offs and lunch box cleaning and laundry folding and email answering and bill paying - that weekly game is a chance for me to be, well, me. Out of my comfort zone. Getting sweaty. Playing sport. Feeling strong. And I love that my kids see me doing it. Because I want them to play sport and it’s time to practice what I preach.
Netball. Best thing I did this year. BEST. THING.
See you on the court.
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