Those of you who have been following my blog since last year will know that I have, despite all my love for South Africa, expressed disdain for one of the staples in the South African school day – netball.
First of all, it’s only for girls. I HATE when a sport is restricted to one gender. When I was a kid in Germany, all I wanted to play was soccer (which wasn’t for girls back then), and when I came to America, the one sport I most wanted to try was baseball (boys only), not softball (the girl version). Why would you throw a huge clunker of a ball when you can use one that so elegantly fits into your hand? And why, oh why, would you want to throw it underhand as if you were in a bowling alley?
The same is true for netball. Why just pass a ball around when you can do such a glorious and elegant thing as dribbling between your legs? And hitting a three-pointer with the shot clock expiring?
However, you can’t really judge a sport until you’ve tried it. Which is precisely what I did last week, when parents were invited to play against the grade three girls. I admit I was a bit apprehensive – after cheering the kids on to try new things – about not wanting to make a complete fool of myself. So while we were warming up I quizzed Sunshine about the rules. Not all players are allowed in all parts of the court, it turns out, and there are rules about which foot you can pivot on – I can’t remember – as well as how far you have to stand away when defending a shot (three feet, can you imagine?).
When the teacher came around to hand out shirts for the different positions, I seized the moment: Since I had no clue what a center or a wing attacker does, I zeroed in on the one thing that made sense to me – goal shooter. Even if I hadn’t just witnessed ...