By Steph Fleming
It seems like a familiar story, two teams, a ball and a goal ring; the object is to get the ball to one end, get it through the net and score points…Basketball right? Wrong! Add a few extra players, take away the ability to dribble or run with the ball and add a whole lot of pace and you have Netball. The sport originated in England, found popularity in Australia and New Zealand and is now finding it’s feet in Canada and more importantly right here in Fernie.
While most winter sports involve bundling up in layers and hitting the snow with some sort of device strapped to your feet, there is now an indoor alternative which is gaining local popularity and enjoying inter-province success with a recent win at Netball Alberta’s fall tournament.
Emma Padgett, who is the Kootenay Netball representative, grew up in Australia playing the game from age 7 before beginning her overseas travels and finding her home in Fernie. Emma played for the San Francisco team when she lived in North America and realised when she got to Fernie that there was definitely a place for Netball; “I really missed playing netball and figured there was enough Aussies and Kiwis and sporty Canadians in town to make our own league.’”
Emma started the league in 2010 with a music event at The Royal to raise funds to purchase start up equipment including goal posts, bibs and balls and today has four teams that play from 6-8pm every Monday at the Max Turyk facility. “Anyone can get involved, it doesn’t matter about your skill level or knowledge, as long as your enthusiastic you can learn the rest,” says Emma who has big plans for Netball in Fernie.
Having already run classes at Fernie Secondary School, presenting Netball as a feature sport in Physical Education, she hopes to expose more young people to the sport. “I intend to get the youth involved at both a primary and secondary level,” says Emma who acts as a player, referee and coach and hopes one day to get an under 18 team together to compete at the BC winter games where Netball is one of 15 sports in competition every 2 years.
The recently formed Fernie Peaks plan to represent Fernie at Netball tournaments in both Canada and the United States. They are off to an amazing start having won every game in the fall tournament in Calgary, becoming the B division champions. The team that won the A division are making plans to come to Fernie to play our team in an exhibition match which will be the first chance we have to get behind our team and show our support for this locally growing sport.
The Fernie Peaks will compete in the next Calgary tournament in March and will be playing a tournament in San Diego in May. Emma is looking to gain more local sponsorship to upgrade equipment and extend the league and youth programs. “If you can throw and catch a ball then you can play,” says Emma who hopes Fernie residents of all ages and skill levels join in and enjoy the sport as much as she does. For more information email Fernienetball@gmail.com or visit their facebook page.