I’ve Seen

pre-season

I’ve seen the tears streaming down a player’s face moments after she has lost a final in front of 7,000 fans.

I’ve seen the pain on the face of a player as she suffers a potential career-ending injury, which at the very least has cut short a promising season.

I’ve seen the complete pandemonium when a player lands a difficult shot in the dying seconds of a final to win the league and become an instant hero.

I’ve seen the sacrifices, the missed family events, the going home early from a team mates’ birthday party because weight training in the morning is at 7am.

I’ve seen the BBC and Sky Sports coverage with expert punditry, world-class umpires and respected commentary teams.

I’ve seen the players at the end of season presentation, looking like a fleet of models on the catwalk, in their gowns and expertly primed hair and make up.

I’ve seen players, still sweating, bruised and aching from an hour of relentless running and physicality that didn’t even win them the game; still muster a smile to pose for selfies with young fans and sign autographs.

I’ve seen captains and coaches give brutally honest interviews following an inexplicable loss with grace and eloquence.

I’ve seen the blood, the never-give-up attitude, the glory of winning and the numbness of losing.

I’ve seen exemplary teamwork and quickfire decision-making at break-neck speed, in the fourth quarter of a breathless goal-to-goal game.

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Sara Bayman, Manchester Thunder v Team Northumbria, Netball Super League, Genting Arena, NEC, North Ave, Birmingham

I’ve seen sportsmanship and honesty when the easy, preferable option was to keep shtum.

I’ve seen players summon up the final fumes left in the tank to claw back a seemingly unassailable eight-goal deficit in the final quarter, lifted by the roar of the fans, only for it to still not be enough.

I’ve seen bitter rivals shake hands and share a hug at the end of the game.

I’ve seen players braid each other’s hair on the team bus en route to an away game, pull on their funky-coloured dresses and top-of-the range trainers.

I’ve seen the frustration, hurt and anger caused by throwaway phrases like ‘ netball isn’t a proper sport’ or ‘you should only play netball at school’.

I’ve seen skilled Superleague athletes take to the court as netball ambassadors week after week, some straight from a shift at work or lecture at uni.

I’ve seen the ultimate of cool. It’s always right there on the court. All you have to do is open your eyes.

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