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Netball, a World Cup and Women's Sport

We've all got our 'on-the-sideline' hobbies. The hobbies we enjoy but are not our wildly passionate interests or the ones we dedicate 70% of our time to. For me personally, sports probably fall into that category. I've always had a sport or some form of exercise on my hobby rota but I wouldn't consider myself a fitness fanatic. I was still pretty terrible at P.E. (and yes, I was occasionally picked that humiliating last) and during my tenure on the dance team I was into the end of year performances but kept my distance from the competitions. 

You may have picked up on it but one of the sports that does stay on my rota is netball. I don't keep a close eye on the netball at all times of year and I honestly couldn't tell you which the best team in Scotland is. However, whenever there's a big international event I'm there with my Scotland flag, such as the last Commonwealth Games in 2014. But next week marks the start of the biggest event in netball Calender: the Netball World Cup 2015. 

So....I realise it doesn't quite have the same euphoria as the Football World Cup, Wimbledon or even the Ashes. But it's the world cup that is always marked out on my calender. Unfortunately it's in Australia (but 2019 will be in Liverpool, holllaaaaaa!) and I couldn't quite get the funds to fly that far around the world. But, still, I'm excited. 

Netball can however get a bit of flack. It's still seen as a 'girls' sport which belongs at primary school, despite the fact that strong, athletic and powerful women make a living from it (but not quite a Wayne Rooney living...we're still working on that inequality). Meninists say it's sexist because there's no men's leagues ignoring the fact that men dominate almost all major sports and then get pissy when women have the cheek to have a sport that is primarily played by women

Then it gets flack from some feminist circles. Because it's easy, graceful and was created as a women's' dainty alternative to basketball. Say...what? The last part is true. But we're talking about the Victorian era here. If, in 2015, someone was to decide that a sport was too masculine for the pretty females and created a dumbed down version of it, I'd be out there with my placard too. But in the Victorian era creating a sport for women was a progressive move. *steps down from soap box*

And it's not dainty. No sport is. Generally the idea, no?

And then there's the rules. And yes, there are a lot of rules. Which is what puts people off. Here's my little guide to how many rules there are, the jist of netball is:
  • There's seven players in each team, and each has a specific role to play
  • Only two of these players are allowed to shoot (even though a sport such as football has strikers, a goal keeper could still run down to the other end and score - none of that fooling around in netball)
  • You can't run or dribble with the ball - you're only allowed to pivot on your landing foot
  • Each player also only has certain area of the court they can play in
  • You also have to pass the ball on within three seconds
  • No physical contact is allowed
  • The ball also has to pass through each third of the court (in other words, the goalkeeper can't throw the ball straight down to the goal shooter, the centres and the wing attacks need to be in the process somewhere)
So...rules. But, from where I'm standing, tennis, cricket and snooker all appear to be rule infested too and they don't get as much poo-pooing as netball. *steps down from soapbox - oh wait, that happened earlier. Pretend I stepped on it again*

Despite my apathetic nature to sports, women's sports remain one of my biggest feminist issues, and I want to see a day when it's called Men's Football and Women's Football not Football and Women's Football. A day when sports such as gymnastics and cheerleading which are traditionally female aren't written of dainty and have a higher rate of male participation. Or, a day when events such as the Netball World Cup receive just as much mainstream attention as all the other cups.

The Women's Football World cup broke much ground. The England team came home having made better progress than the men's team have since the 90's, but the minisists critics still wrote it off because women's football isn't as tough (or even just bluntly saying that women who play football aren't hot so all women must just automatically not play football, ever). 

England, Scotland and Wales all made the cut to take part, and are excellent sides which my English, Scottish and Welsh readers should get behind. Scotland has made leaps and bounds in the past year and I couldn't be prouder of them. Their first match will be up against England (because, obviously) which I don't expect to win because England is one of the best nations netball has ever known. But I'll still be up late to watch it when it's on at 2pm Aussie time (who's getting up early to have a Twitter party like it's the referendum again?). 

If you want to keep up-to-date with the Netball World Cup you can follow any of my silly Tweets. But it's probably better to follow the official Netball World Cup Twitter or like the Facebook page. Sky Sports are also showing coverage and will be streaming the England versus Scotland live and free on their website

*finally gets off soapbox and puts it back in the cupboard*

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