Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blog posts past: Why I no longer play netball with boys

Friday the 13th? The one you’ve got to watch out for is Thursday the 12th, as I discovered for myself last week.

I’d been persuaded to play in a charity netball match, with the assurance that there would be loads of people (male and female) playing, so I’d probably only be on the court for 15 minutes, tops. I turned up to find out that in fact there were exactly 14 players, and with seven per team, that meant I’d be playing the whole match.

After 45 minutes, I’d come to the conclusion that having me as goal defence was marginally more effective for my team than being a player short. Just about. If I learnt to stop shrieking every time the ball came anywhere near me, I might have even made contact with it a couple of times. At least in netball it’s pretty near impossible to score an own goal.

The match was surprisingly competitive, and extremely physical. This came as a shock to me, as I’d last played netball as a 16-year-old at St Gabriel's (I found it quite depressing to work out that how many years ago that was). I’m not sure I ever actually played a full match at school; my natural position was as a reserve. And certainly I never played on teams that included men. Not at St Gabs. We were nice girls.

Not that I noticed the male players that much, since I was too busy hiding behind the goalpost, until one (a rugby player, I have since learnt) decided that I was clearly a threat to him reaching the ball (I was probably trying to run out of the way of it at the time) and flew into me. I presume that was what happened, anyway, as the next 30 seconds or so are a bit hazy. All I know is that my head collided with the Tarmac. Ouch.

The result was a lump the size of a grapefruit, and lots of concerned players gathered round. It turned out that I was the only person on court with any First Aid training, so after telling them that trying to put me into the recovery position wasn’t the right way to deal with a head injury, I realised that my faculties were at least still working on some level, which was a relief.

Now, if you have an accident, it’s always best to have it just round the corner from a hospital, so I was packed off from Reading University Sportspark to A&E at the Royal Berks. The rest of the evening was spent having my head prodded, my pupils checked, and being asked questions like my name, the Queen’s name, the year, and the dates of the Second World War (I guess they get a lot of old people in casualty).

My favourite one was: “Who do you think I am?”, asked by the nice doctor, as he pointed at his stethoscope. I really wanted to say “a nurse”, as I know how much that irritates doctors (Bill has only just stopped asking a female doctor friend of mine “how’s the nursing going?” after 10 years of knowing her), but as I really didn’t want to be kept in overnight, I gave the correct answer.

After several hours of observation I was allowed to go home as long as I had a responsible person there to look after me. If not, Bill being there would do. I was given a wonderful leaflet that explained I may have suffered “bruising to the brain” which could cause symptoms for a few days or weeks. These include tiredness, feeling miserable, trouble with memory, difficulty concentrating and loosing my temper easily. Nothing new there then, says Bill.

I should also “avoid getting involved in stressful situations and should not make any major decisions” until I’m better. Which explains why I found it so difficult to decide which Easter Egg to eat next. The only answer was to eat two. At once. Well, the leaflet also says I should “allow myself to rest”. And for me, resting always involves eating chocolate.

In lieu of a bandage wrapped around my head a la Basil Fawlty, there is no sign of my trauma, so I’m milking the accompanying elbow graze for maximum sympathy with a lovely big dressing and a slight groan whenever I need to lift something heavier than a Creme Egg. And I have made one major decision -  I am never ever going to play netball again. I’ve always said that sport is bad for you.

  • First published on, 2007

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