Recently I discovered a load of old workbooks from junior school when having a clear out – it’s so funny to read who I was at the ages of 4 – 7! Let’s just say I had quite an imagination! Thinking back evoked memories of what I used to love doing as a kid, such as playing the piano, dancing and playing netball after school with my pals. Funny how I had completely lost my passion for those things in my grumpy teenage years, but in my 30s, I am re-discovering my love for hobbies I had as a child (or maybe I just never grew up!)
The trip down my memory lane of hobbies-gone-by led me to interview Joanna Blain who is the Founder of Play Simple Netball, a social netball league with nearly 100 teams playing in leagues across Manchester and Liverpool. I wanted to see if netball is still a hobby I could take up now, at the age of (nearly, not yet!) 32, and with Freya as the official partner to the England Team, it seemed like the obvious thing to do, as I need lots of excuses to buy Freya Active Wear!
How long have you been playing netball?
I’ve been playing netball for about 25 years, which makes me feel very old! I started playing in primary school and continued to play throughout secondary school and University. I stopped for a few years after that but then picked it up again about 10 years ago.
What sort of commitment does being on a netball team involve?
I’m a bit of a netball freak so I play quite a lot! I play for a Monday night team in the Play Simple Netball league with a group of friends and I also play for a club, Venus Netball Club, in the Manchester Evening League.
On a Monday, I can just turn up and play without having to do any organising, which I like, as the league does everything for us. I know my matches will always be on a Monday night at the same venue. Playing for Venus involves a greater time commitment. We have 2 hours of training every week, plus a match. The matches can be home or away on any week night so there’s a bit more travelling involved too. Really, you can have as little or as much commitment as suits you!
What do you wear when playing netball?
It depends where I’m playing – if I’m playing on a Monday with my mates, it’s a T-shirt and shorts. If it’s for Venus, we have a club kit so it’s a netball dress or top and skirt. I always wear proper netball trainers and a good sports bra too!
Which items from our Freya Active range would be good for netball fans?
The entire Freya Active range is great for netball lovers! I do a lot of running and jumping in an average game of netball. I need to be comfortable in what I’m wearing and to have right amount of support, and the Freya Active Range ticks all the boxes, such as the Freya Active soft cup sports bra (pictured below) in black, grey and vibrant coral.
Nowadays there are plenty of taster sessions for beginners or people who’ve just not played for a while – whether you just want to play for fun, fitness or something more competitive. Many of our players at Play Simple Netball haven’t played netball since school but you’d be surprised how quickly it all comes flooding back! I think people assume they have to know the rules and be an amazing player before going along to a session but that’s not the case at all.
Why do you enjoy playing netball, and why would you encourage others to start up?
I’m quite a sporty person and like to be active. I can get bored in the gym on my own so playing netball as part of a team means I get to socialise and exercise at the same time. Netball’s a good workout too as its quite stop-start and dynamic.
Play Simple Netball are always looking for franchisees across the UK to grow the number of netball leagues and open up more opportunities for women to play the game, so if you’re interested, get in touch with Joanna. I think I might do just that myself!!