‘Here if you need’: An open letter to my daughter since she started learning netball.

netsetgo
Netball Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Netball Australia

Dear Mila

Wow! Last weekend you completed your first season of Suncorp NetSetGO. I can see you’re loving yourself sick in your cute li’l bib. And even though everyone gets one, you truly have earned it!

When we signed you up to the Ducks netball team in Term 1, you literally had no idea. You couldn’t catch, you could barely throw and never seemed to know which way your goals were.

But we could tell you were stoked as soon as you got your participant pack in the mail with your very own ball and t-shirt. It was straight to the backyard, where you’d be practising every little move for weeks to come.

You have come so far, my girl. You get it! You actually get it! Your confidence has grown through the roof.

You can now push out a strong-ish shoulder pass and you totally catch most of the balls coming your way. You are always smiling and watching you play makes my heart go boom, boom, boom.

With practise comes confidence: my girl Mila is learning and growing. Image: Supplied.

It's always hard to start anything new; it all feels so unknown. But you've got to start somewhere!

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At Suncorp NetSetGO, the netball element is slowly introduced at each stage. For the youngest, it's all about having fun and learning basics from a coach who just wants you to enjoy the process.

I watched you practise your standing balances (hopping around left, right and centre!), play tunnel ball (get it through!) and learn what it means to chase, pass, pivot, and change directions. Pivot, pivot!

That's the beauty of learning slowly. The games are modified because it's about dipping your toe in. It starts with lower goal posts that eventually get bigger as you get more confident. But really, just being there makes you a winner.

Since you've started, you've developed quicker decision-making skills too. The first few rounds of your mini games, the whole team was taking forever to pass the ball. They couldn’t decide who to throw to or see where the open pass was. It was freaking frustrating for us parents to be honest, and I was scared some of them would quit before it had even got going!

I am a seasoned netball mum who has been through this before with your big sister, so I could vouch for all of you that you, and your team, will only get better with your newly learned skills. And it was only a few short weeks before you did!

Now your team makes faster, better choices and hot-potatoes that ball down the court. When I am at a café with a friend who can’t decide what sambo to order, I silently giggle and wonder if it’s because they haven’t played enough team sport?!

I also love that if you ever have friendship problems at school, you will always have your team to fall back on. That's one of the major things I've seen with you in this short time.

Being able to make fast decisions is more than an on-court thing. The Ducks have nailed what teamwork is in just one season.

Through the drills and activities at training, you have learned to connect with the other players and what kind of unique skills they have, whether it's passing, shooting, balancing, playing defense or cheering on one another.

I always knew I was going to love you, but I never knew how proud I’d feel when I see you do stuff. You’re very brave for joining the Ducks NetSetGO team. Your dad and I knew it was outside your comfort zone. You’re naturally a bit of a singer/dancer/butterfly/space cadet!

But there is nothing quite like team sport to bring out another side of a youngster. Your friendships have strengthened. You’re a Duck and that’s totally a thing around our school. The feeling of belonging is something all humans crave and even the Duck parents have got a li'l sidelines thang going on too.

She's a proud little team player. Image: Supplied.

Last game you copped a ball to the head. It would have hurt. I could tell it hurt. Your cheeks blushed, eyes welled and there was a red mark developing on your button nose. I was ready to bolt on court and hug you. It took some strength on my part to hang back and stay cool. You carried on. You shook it off and sucked it up. You continued to play until the bell .You’re only six but you’ve already built so much resilience.

It’s sad to see the season come to an end to be honest. You are going to miss the training too. The sessions are so fun and playful. Like a giant play date with your teammates. I like training too because it is run through school which is super easy.

This might sound strange, but seeing your face all flushed and sweaty after a game is the best! I am probably jealous because you play on ridiculously cold winter mornings in Canberra, and I am freezing my butt off sucking back coffee while you’re working out – but there is a real feeling of satisfaction to see you enjoying exercise.

I promise one day I will coach your team like I coach your sister’s. I wanted to do it this year but Mummy can’t be in two places at once (even though you think everything is possible).

You actually don’t know how lucky you are to have a Dad coach with your team! He is new this year too and has done a fab job with you all. He was hesitant at first but he has already said OUT LOUD (no take backs) that he will do it again next year.

Putting your hand up to coach is a bit scary – but gee it’s rewarding! I am quite the celebrity mum-coach at our small school and it’s kind of nice to be a "big deal" in the U11 netball scene.

Enjoy your sleep-in next Saturday my baby big-girl - for God's sake, please sleep in! And until next season, your dad and I will always be your biggest fans.

Love Mama x

Literally always “here if you need”.

Jenny Tiffen is a mum of four, a netball coach and has her own blog, Love Wednesday.

Suncorp NetSetGO runs introductory netball programs for boys and girls from age five to 10. For more info, visit NetSetGO.

This content was brought to you with thanks from our brand partners, Netball Australia.

We want kids to love playing netball as much as we do. That’s why Suncorp NetSetGO is the best way for girls and boys aged 5 to 10 to have fun with their friends, keep active and learn the basic skills of netball in a safe and social environment. Find out more at netsetgo.asn.au.

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