The fall of 2015 was the start to the first year of netball in Fernie. Netball is a cross between basketball and ultimate frisbee. Two teams court seven players who, upon receiving the ball, must stand still until they pass it. The sport began in England in the 1890’s and was recognized by the Olympics in 1995.
The Free Press interviewed Rachel Cline, organizer, Emma Polit, head coach and manager, and Emily Park, treasurer and club president about the sport here in Fernie.
“We all played when growing up, Emma in Australia and Emily and Rachel in the UK. We all played through school and University and Emma to a high semi-professional league level. We wanted a team sport in Fernie. Emma did establish a team a number of years ago but then having two babies meant she took some time off. Rachel came to Fernie in 2012 and wanted a team sport to get out and meet people, she asked around and found out about Emma’s netball team,” they said. “However at this point Emma was unable to start it up again and Rachel did not have the coaching skills to do it, so Rachel kept pestering Emma and offered to help with the organizational aspect and Emma agreed in fall 2015. We ran for five months through the winter, took a break for the summer and are back into our second year with an even stronger team and more dedicated players as well as some people that like to drop in when they can to play. Everyone is welcome, even people that have not played the game before.”
The team is looking to build on last year’s participants, hoping to draw out enough players to have a full team.
“Last year we had enough for a team [of] seven plus subs [making for] about 10 [players] but not often enough for the main team to play against another seven for practice,” they said. “This year we regularly have 15-18 [people] at practice which means we can get a lot more game play. We would love to put in A and B teams for the tournament in Calgary but we are probably about four players short as it is very intense and tiring and we would not have enough subs.”
The three operators hope that the increasing demand for the sport in the US will create more demand north of the border.
“More recognized, the US is now onboard and competing which increases the profile of any sport. Schools in the US and Canada are using it. It’s great as a mixed sport [and is for] all ages and abilities,” they said. “Rules change over time to make the game even faster and more fun to watch, so you have to be abreast of them. Sally Beavard one of our players is amazing at umpiring and has done lots of courses and teaches us to play to official rules.”
Netball is played on Sundays at the Max Turyk gym in Fernie from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The first try is free and after that a membership is $20 and sessions are $5. For more information contact the groups facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org