The behaviour of netballers has, for some time, been more professional than the actual status of the sport, especially in the UK. Although I wouldn’t have ever called myself a recreational netballer, except for England duties, all the training that I have participated in should be classed as amateur. Never, before joining West Coast Fever has my income been a product of playing netball.
In 2010 I lived with my ex-boyfriend who is a professional rugby player. At the time, I worked part-time, was training full-time (for our domestic competition, my club team AND England Netball) and studying full-time for my Masters. He often mentioned that the amount I trained was ridiculous considering that I never got paid for it, and I think would sometimes feel sorry for me and the amount of plates I was juggling.
On occasions I would join the pity party and say how tough we English netballers had it and think how much easier my life would be if I had his pay packet and just one plate to juggle. Mostly, though, I would tell him how spoilt he was and ask him which coffee shop he had visited today and how many hours he had lost to Call of Duty when I was home for more than five minutes to engage in a proper conversation.
A constant across all the ‘amateur’ environments, that I have trained in has been the demands and expectation with respect to both behaviour and attitude. For me, the ‘transition’ to a full-time athlete and the mindset that I feel accompanies that, have not been a challenge to adopt. The teams that I have grown up in thrived on professional behaviour and creating a challenging environment despite the lack of financial assistance. Our aspirations far surpassed bringing an amateur outlook to the training and competition environment and flippancy was never accepted.
The irony of the coffee and beach lifestyle that underpins my netball now is not lost on me, but neither are the lessons that I learnt during some pretty hectic years of intense juggling between education, sport and work. That time I spent moulding my multi-tasking skills and practicing at being a professional have led me to a path that I could walk blindfolded.
When I cross the threshold to the State Netball Centre I am in my element, work mode kicks in and I bring the best version of myself that I have that day to ‘work’. The challenge that I have set myself this season, however, is to find something away from the court that I will find rewarding, can be equally invested in and that will help me to continue growing holistically. I look forward sharing some of my ideas with you in the future weeks.