‘A gentler version of the sport I loved allowed me to keep active in retirement’

Jun 13, 2019
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Walking Netball is a modified version of the game that allows senior women and men to maintain their physical activities. Source: Getty Images

At the age of 38, I found out that I was pregnant with my third child after a 12-year gap. I was playing competitive netball with a group of friends at the time and reluctantly gave up the game that I loved so much.

With pressures of work, a husband who was sick, a toddler and the health issues I developed following the pregnancy, I resigned myself that I would not play netball again. However, it was when I was in my 50s (and working as an assistant principal) I took on the role of managing the Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Netball team and travelled with them to competitions in various regions of the state.

What I realised was that I still had a love for the sport. I enjoyed supporting my netball girls in their endeavours, but I couldn’t dismiss this feeling of regret I had for not being able to play myself.

Along came retirement (at the age of 62) and my sister announced she was going to take up ‘walking netball’. I’d never heard of it, but she informed me there was a free trial happening at Mount Gravatt in Brisbane and encouraged me to check it out with her. Wow! I thought to myself, I could play sport again. What I learned is that Walking Netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but it’s done at a walking pace.

We headed to the trial and this is where the fun began. There were many women in the same boat as me — those who really loved the game, but hadn’t played for a long time. The first weeks were full of laughs as we tried to stop ourselves from running and jumping, remembering where to stop and making sure the arthritis didn’t get in the way of catching the ball.

It was a wonderful feeling to be back on the court and playing the game I’d loved since my youth — alas, somewhat slower and not as agile. Apart from the physical aspects of getting exercise in a fun way, Walking Netball has enabled me to make new friends and share with people who have a common bond: their love of netball.

The mornings at Walking Netball include down time after the game where we socialise over a cuppa and some goodies made by one of the ladies. It is such an honour to be playing at the State Netball Centre and when I can manage it, I play twice a week. It is certainly helping with my fitness as well as opening up new friendships in my retirement.

Is there a sport or activity you did when you were younger that you’re still involved in today? What advantages do you see in remaining active in your 60s and beyond?

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