This Girl Really Really Can
Sport played a massive part of my childhood. It was my childhood, my entire world. I was a gymnast. If you spoke to anyone I was at school with they would remember me as Vickie The Gymnast. Not quite the gymnast now although give me a drink and I will happily do the splits. Enough drink and I cartwheel. Completely off my face and I will attempt a somersault.
Retiring at 15 was pretty tough to handle and looking back I realise I struggled with depression as I was grieving for the life I had. I lost my identity. We were weighed weekly as gymnasts and food was very much simply fuel. Confused by my new life I used food as a comfort and as a form of control. My body was changing shape and when I looked in the mirror I did not recognise the person before me but thats for a whole other post!
Sport disappeared from my life apart from the odd ski trip now and then. I went from training 20 hours a week as a gymnast to nothing. I was not in the right frame of mind to accept any other sport.
I do not regret for a moment having a sporty childhood. The benefits far outweigh the negatives although I was adamant my children would not be gymnasts. We steered them towards sports you can continue for a lifetime. The boys were guided towards rugby, Daddy’s choice. The girls towards netball. We tried various sports along the way but some can be so poxy expensive and when you have four children there is simply not the funds to keep every sport going.
Little did I know that these decisions would have a massive impact on my life. Spending hours and hours court side you get to know people. Well especially me as I do not tend to shut up. Little Miss Chatterbox, that is moi!
A year ago, a team a friend plays in were so desperate they asked if I could play for them!! Me!!??? A then 40 year old Mumma from the sidelines who had been to two Back to Netball sessions. They really were very very desperate but thank goodness they were. Before netball came into my life exercise was something I did now and then. The odd run, sometimes I would get quite into running – all the gear and no idea. Forcing myself to go out but feeling fantastic afterwards. Just exercise. Not sport.
Now. Twice a week I get to play netball and I absaflaminlutely friggin’ love it. We play all weathers and yes we complain.
We complain if its cold, if its wet and then we complain if it is too hot or that the sun is in our eyes.
I never thought sport would become an important part of my life again. With gymnastics it was always about being the best, winning, getting stronger, torturing myself to get more flexible, more fearless. With netball we love nothing more than to win but you can have a great game and lose. At the moment I still have so much to learn but every time I get a fingertip on the ball I cannot help but smile. If I actually get an interception I nearly pee myself (although my team tells me there is an op that can help with that).
To think – the negative little shit bag who lives on my shoulder nearly stopped me from even saying yes. He was taunting me about wearing all that lycra and a dress? A netball dress? Laughing at the thought of me, this overweight blob trying to run around a netball court without a clue of what I am doing. Somehow I ignored him and when I stepped onto court for the first time and was greeted by the rest of the team with smiles and hugs I knew I was going to be ok. I felt like I ran 10 miles without breathing the first time I played. I was completely cream-crackered and I only played half a game and I’m not even sure if I touched the ball. At the end of each quarter the team were so supportive. So bloody nice. I knew I was shit. They knew I was shit. But I was out there. Trying. This Girl Can. Well this girl tries at least!
A year on and I am still there. The lycra holds me together. The shock absorber bra from Boobydoo restrains the beasts. I even have compression socks under my skins as my calves complain heavily of dragging my body around. The body is hanging in there and so is the team. They stuck with me. I know there are players out there who could easily play better in my WD bib but there I am, twice a week. England Netball need not send a scout but I am one hell of a cheerleader for the sport!
I may not be winning the trophies or the medals I did as a gymnast but playing netball has been far more rewarding and I hope to have many more years in me yet.
If you fancy giving it a go visit www.englandnetball.co.uk and take a look at the Back to Netball or Walking Netball links. Honestly you are never too old and I promise you will love it.