Annette

Brown

  • Netball is on a popularity drive!

    Good News! Netball, one of the most popular female sports in the UK has been awarded a £16.9m Government grant, with £10.5m earmarked to encourage adult women to take it up again.

    This grant shows a significant investment in a sport that has long been forgotten in place of male dominated sports such as football, rugby and basketball. As Andrew St Ledger, head of media at Sport England, which awarded the grant, explains, Netball is popular and the funding is, arguably, needed. “It’s all about getting people who are typically not represented in sports and physical activity to take part. We know that if you go from doing nothing to even a tiny amount of exercise the benefits are huge,” he says. “Netball is a great one for targeting women because about 98% of people who play netball are women, as you might expect.”

    I hold a personal view of netball being the greatest sport out there because I play up to 3 times a week and go to great lengths to tell anyone who will listen. There are several reasons for this: I seek to dispel the outdated notion that this is a sport only to be played at school, in cold conditions and heavily restricts movement. The game of netball forces its players to think strategically and tactfully, plan each move in the space of 3 seconds and work as team in order to move the ball up the court. Rather than a sport where one individual takes all the glory, netball is truly a team sport that requires the whole team to work together to move the two shooting players into a position under the post to make a successful shot. The physicality needed to play at a top level is no different and in some cases higher than in other sports, it requires a multitude of skills and precision. In the words of England captain Ama Agbeze, herself a defender, speaking out against an ill-informed suggestion that when marking an opponent, players are required to do a modified Nazi salute, “The only similarity to the Nazi salute is the extended arm. I don’t ever recall Nazi’s jumping head and shoulders over a 6ft 2in person in an attempt to smash the ball from its trajectory towards the post in a feat of athleticism and timing.”

    Playing at a grass roots level, one of the most surprising benefits is that I meet a wide variety of people from every walk of life; I have played with doctors, policewomen, nurses, waitresses, office workers... the list is endless. Netball not only allows you to get fit, it increases your social life tenfold.

    I am aware, netball isn’t for everyone, neither is tennis, but as a nation we currently sit in the top three national teams, behind front runners Australia and New Zealand. It’s a non contact sport with plenty of exciting action at a fast pace; which does lead to some spectacular clashes sending players flying across the court, where they pick themselves back up and head straight back into the fight.

    For those who haven’t played before, netball has seven players and is quite like basketball but more fun. I play “Goal Attack (GA)”. This is a shooting position but the role on the court is to support the mid field and the shooter. Other positions include Goal Shooter (GS); the main goal scorer, Wing attack (WA); a mid field attacking player who works with Centre to work the ball into a position in the circle for the GS/GA to make a successful attempt on goal. Centre (C); is a main court player, supporting both defence and attack, traditionally these player are quick and agile, Wing Defence (WD); a defensive position that is required to intercept the ball in play and turn the advantage back for their team, Goal Defence (GD); required to prevent the GA of the opposing team from shooting as well as intercepting any pass into the circle and finally Goal Keeper (GK); the final line of defence, they are required to intercept any ball into the circle and prevent shots being made. Each position requires a different skill set and physical challenges.

    The announcement of this funding is a massive step forward, not only for netball but for women’s sport in general. Too long has coverage of sport been dominated by male led activities with little funding and coverage given to women competing on the same level. It was in 2014 – only 3 years ago - that the English Cricketing Board agreed to pay for 18 full time women cricketers, allowing professional women cricketers to solely concentrate on the sport rather than having to hold down a full time job as well as train for their sport. This is a trend that must continue and rather than discouraging females from taking part in sport they should be encouraged and celebrated. I for one am immensely proud to say, “I AM A NETBALLER!”

    Author notes: This post is in response to an article published by @guardian_sport written by Morwenna Ferrier. You can view the post at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/shortcuts/2017/feb/07/government-wants-women-to-play-netball

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  • Random Acts of Self Image

    I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror the other morning. It was the morning after a particularly good night, so good in fact I had forgotten to take off my makeup. In that fleeting glance in the mirror I almost mistook myself for the long lost member of KISS!

    Once I recovered from the shock, I got to thinking … Do others see the same thing when they look at me that I see when I look in the mirror? Or do they see someone completely different?

    We all have parts of our reflection that our eye is drawn towards, for me it’s my nose – a family trait passed down from my Granddad and the trail of moles down my face or the redness of my skin. However, we all examine our features in a close up, individual way. So perhaps, for our sanity we should take a step back, away from the extreme close up and try take a complete look at ourselves – the way others see us and instead of seeing our faults we will see the whole picture and we may even start to notice the parts we love instead of only those parts we hate.

    Image by www.freedigitalphotos.net

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  • Random Acts of Propaganda

    I heard a news story this week about a family of aliens who went to the supermarket and made a remark about the colour of milk. Apparently the eggs took offence and told the yoghurts to go home.

    Unbelievable right? So I immediately shared this via my social network and, in turn, this was shared by thousands of others. It received hundreds of comments from people demanding that the aliens go home or accept milk for what it is. What gives them the right to say that about OUR milk?

    My task was complete, I successfully stirred up a pot of propaganda which played on people’s fear that their way of life had been threatened and they responded by fighting this change.

    But what if every one of those who commented and shared the post stopped and really thought about what the story was trying to do?

    Obviously it’s complete and utter nonsense, a total fairy tale with no foundation of truth. Yet examples of this kind of propaganda are shared and commented on every day. Sometimes it’s a customer in the supermarket making a comment about a pin or sometimes it is an air hostess on a plane. Whatever the scenario, it's always an urban myth, told and retold in several different formats all with the same purpose of raising a reaction and spreading the twisted and tangled web of hatred and fear.

    If we all did, what many told the aliens to do, and went home, or what they actually mean, which is to go back to our country of origin, the UK would be empty. We are all descended from immigrants and colonies which invaded and changed the way of life in the UK. From Romans to Vikings to Saxons, they all left their mark on our proud nation.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t defend our rights to free thought, speech and life. What I am saying is that this world would be a much better place if people had more tolerance or at least a part of their brain which told them not to believe everything they read at face value, to ask for proof and seek truths.

    No matter your colour, race or beliefs don’t fear change or differences, embrace them. Learn from them and stop being a vehicle for the narrow minded cycle of hate. How can you truly understand a person’s point of view if you don’t take time to consider their argument? If, after some thought and after looking at the whole picture you don’t agree, that’s OK too. The world would be very boring if we all agreed.

    If you take nothing more away from this blog, please remember this…Next time you read a post in your social media stream, really read it before sharing. See it for what it is, not what it portrays to be. Step outside your bubble, learn about different cultures before condemning them and learn to be tolerant of others even when you don’t share their views.

    Image: www.freedigitalphotos.net

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  • Random Acts of Gravity Checks

    Ow, ow, ow! I stubbed my blasted toe again! Why am I so clumsy? I’m forever dropping, crashing into or falling over things. I swear someone puts objects in my way so I fall over them!

    I do find though that one random act of clumsiness is often followed by another. For example, the other night I managed to drop a glass out of the cupboard whilst trying to put another one in. In the process of cleaning it up I decided to get a torch and shine it on the work top and floor to make sure I didn’t miss a shard of glass that I would later cut myself on. However, as I put the torch on the worktop to clean up missed pieces, it fell off onto the floor and smashed as well! This was followed by me cursing in frustration and now having to clean up the glass and the torch. I was not impressed.

    But it’s not just me, I have a friend (who will remain nameless but will know who she is when she reads this) who is constantly slipping and tripping on our walks with the dogs, just this weekend she managed to fall in the biggest, muddiest puddle and ended up splattered in dirty water. Once I stopped laughing, a phase I read recently came to mind:

    “I often conduct random gravity checks.”

    Perhaps we’re not clumsy, maybe we are just testing to see if the earth’s pull is still working?

    After my test this morning, which saw me conduct the experiment with the aid of my Jack Russell who expertly stood just out of eye line by my feet, I can confirm it is!

    Image by: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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  • Random Acts of Travelling

    After months of cold, dark mornings and wet, dark nights, thoughts are now turning to sun, beaches and warmth. It’s time to book your summer holiday!

    Wherever you decide to go, no doubt it will begin with a flight - the most stressful way to start your holiday! After arriving at the airport in good time you stand in the various queues getting annoyed at those that push in ahead of you. However, being British this is perhaps more of a pastime activity than a chore.

    Once you have been herded, through the various airport departments you are finally at the departure gate and boarding your plane. Throughout this process you may start to feel like a sheep, but you must resist the urge to “baa”. I have found that the airport staff do not appreciate you making farm yard animal sounds at them (unless you are 5 years old) and you may find yourself whisked off for a full body search!

    When you finally get settled into your seat for your flight, you may think you can breathe a sigh of relief… but don’t. This is a dangerous time, for the person that takes the empty seat next to you will determine how painful this flight will be. The mother and screaming child will not make your flight easy but the sexy businessman might!

    I hardly ever get the sexy businessman! I have been on numerous flights where I have acted as babysitter/ child entertainer, confidant to the elderly - who insist on telling you their whole life story and Mr. Smelly who forced me to practically sit in the aisle to get away from his stench.

    Why do we put ourselves through this? Ah yes, the sun, relaxation and enjoyment that only a summer holiday can bring. There is nothing like it to recharge your batteries and make you feel at peace once more.

    Where’s my credit card? I need to book my flight!

    Image: www.freedigitalphotos.net

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