Monday, August 22, 2016

Nothing but Net

One of the new sports that I've been introduced to down here is netball. It is primarily a sport for women, and just like rounders can be considered a derivative of baseball for women, netball can be considered a form of basketball for women. It got its start in England around the turn of the 20th century, and is very popular in the British Commonwealth countries.

If you were a good shooter in basketball and could swish your shots without using the backboard, you'd be an asset for a netball team—because there is no backboard on a netball court. There is just a pole connected to a hoop and net (as shown below). It is either "in the hole" or not—no friendly bounce off the backboard to help you score.

Unlike basketball, there is no dribbling. The ball is moved up and down the court by passing. Once you catch a pass, you must “freeze” and then pass the ball to a teammate. Your teammates are likely running around trying to get away from defenders and get open to receive the next pass. After passing the ball down the court, someone gets close enough to make a shot at the basket. [Note in the photo below that the basketball goal is on wheels and pulled back when netball is being played.]
I snapped these pictures on Saturday while I was in Portsmouth (the second largest town on the island). This court serves as both a basketball court and a netball court, and includes some nice bleachers for spectators. The photo below shows the ball in the air above the goal on the other end of the court.
I was introduced to this sport by playing with the few girls in our school. For most of the year, we only had three girls in the upper grades, so I played with the youngest, a 3rd grader, against the two 5th graders. I quickly found out that it could be a physically demanding sport as you are constantly trying to defend or conversely, running around trying to get open. I have fun whenever we play.

We were just practicing how to move the ball up and down our playing field, because our school does not have a netball court. There is a physical education teacher who travels around to the different schools in our area. Because of our small population of girls (but with our large playing field), she brings with her a handful of female students from another small school, allowing both groups of girls to play sports together. Towards the end of the school year, this combined netball team competed in a tournament at the nice netball court in Portsmouth. Not surprisingly, we lost to larger schools with better facilities.

We do have a small basketball court at our school—if you can call it that (see pictures above and below). At the end of the driveway that went to the old school (which was torn down), a basketball court has been set up. However, the pole is just stuck in a hole with rocks surrounding it. This means it is not very stable, and ends up leaning at an unusual angle. There is a very sad looking partial tattered remnant of net that hangs down from one portion of the rim. The boys still enjoy shooting the basketball sometimes, but it is not that big of a sport here. Soccer (known as football) and cricket are the two most popular team sports for the boys, and rounders is the most popular game for women.
Yesterday, our village hosted a double-header at our beautiful playing field. There was a rounders game beginning at 1:00, followed by a football game at 4:00 (plus a domino tournament that evening). In between, several of us went across the road and swam in the ocean. Below is a shot of the football game—look close and you can see a home team player wearing a red jersey about to kick the ball.
I enjoyed being “out and about” now that my two-week period of potentially being contagious following my Zika illness is over. Of course, I am still taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites, but my blood should no longer carry the virus. I would hate to pass it along to someone else, especially any of the young women in our village who might become pregnant. Now I need to enjoy my final days before school starts up on September 5.

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