Back in the old country (the Caribbean Island of Grenada) Netball is almost a National sport so I’d known it from then. More recently I was delighted to be asked to host a reception at the Powerhouse in Moss Side, Manchester to welcome the Jamaican Netball Team and that was a total joy.
My last encounter with the sport came during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester when I was asked to be the announcer at the MEN Arena for all the Netball games. All was progressing well in the lead-up to the Games until I was asked by the organisers to be the Host of the Opening Ceremony of the Games. Unfortunately there were clashes with rehersals and I had to give up the Netball.
So imagine my joy when the team manager of Leeds Carnegie Netball Team, Geraldine Plant, gave me a call to see if I could do the announcing for the team. It would seem that word had filtered through from the Basketball events where we were rocking the house.
I immediately said yes and did my first few games for Carnegie.
I was absolutely amazed at the speed of the Sport. Basketball is quick especially on a fast break but they are allowed to dribble the ball. In Netball, no player is allowed to move with the ball. You must make a pass, move to an open space, get the return find the open person and so it goes. Having now seen a few games I am enjoying it Oh So Much!
The star of Leeds Carnegie, in my opinion, is Goal Shooter / Goal Attack Carla Dziwoki. Ms Dziwoki hails from New Zealand. She is totally amazing and her mastery of the goal area is sensational. Other stars include Captain Jo Davies, Natalie Panagarry, Rachel Shaw, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Lauren Potter and Dani Bloomfield oh yes and the delightful Jo Walker, probably the friendliest person I have ever met. She always had a smile on her face.
On this particular Saturday Carnegie were taking on Team Bath in a Superleague encounter and to put it mildly this one was going to be tough. Team Bath, I was told, was the top team in England and include a significant number of England Internationals in their line-up.
The first thing I noticed was their size. They were huge and boy were they athletic. Their warm-up is a joy to watch and it is hard to believe they would have any energy left for the actual game. But, having said that, they seemed to really enjoy that warm-up, and also seemed to have a real camaraderie in the team.
Carnegie, I was told, would be lucky to get beat by less that 30 here today. Well that was how it was in the past.
That might have been the prediction coming in but for the first three quarters Team Bath knew they were in a struggle. Time and time again they would pull away from Carnegie only for the home team to reel them back in. Late in the 3rd quarter (I think) Carnegie actually led the ball game. The home crowd was loving it and so was the announcer.
Mind you if the Head Coach of Team Bath, Jess Garland was worried she really did not show it. There were great defensive plays and steals by Carnegie but try as they might they could not stop the awesome Rosie Allison. She was truly magnificent.
Heaven only knows exactly how many goals she scored.
Into the 4th quarter and unfortunately for Leeds Carnegie, Tean Bath simply took it to another level. Their defence was tenatious, their ball movement sublime and the finishing superb.
To put it mildly they simply blew Carnegie off the court. They were led by Eboni Beckford-Chambers awesome in defence and the sensational Pamela Cookey. I just love sport played at the very highest level and this was a perfect example of it.
I hope to continue my involvement with Netball and so far I have only called it Basketball once. Leeds Carnegie are truly building a Sporting Empire. The Basketball teams, both Men and Wonen, are having great seasons. Their Women’s Football team recently lifted some silverware and, despite this defeat, there is much that the Netball Head Coach Anna Newell can take from the season so far. Carnegie are now 2 and 4 and in 4th place in the Superleague table behind Surrey Storm, Mavericks and Team Bath.
Leeds Carnegie may have lost the game 42 – 62 in the end but for the first 3 quarters they certainly gave their fans something to cheer and that was a joy to see.
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