VOLUNTEER’S CORNER – Nadia Shakir’s story
Florrie Jones, Netball Development Officer in Hertfordshire chats with Nadia:
Why do you love Netball?
I moved to Bedfordshire from Birmingham and up to this point I had mostly played football and hockey. My husband was working for EN and suggested I come to a Back to Netball session. I quite honestly started off terribly at the sport and can still remember the first time I went a match without doing footwork! It was the atmosphere and people that kept me coming back, the group of girls were amazing and so supportive; some of which have now become my closest friends as well as brilliant teammates. The pathway from B2N to league level netball is also great, it is the grass roots of netball and I feel B2N really improves your confidence and there are so many opportunities if you want to play to play competitively.
I currently play for 2 teams, have started umpiring and sit on the Welwyn Hatfield Netball League committee. Throughout my netball journey I have met so many lovely people and played netball at various levels. It never fails to be enjoyable and this is the reason I have fallen head over heels in love with the game.
Why you got back into the sport?
I never really had any prior experience of netball before moving to Bedfordshire. However, over the last 4 years I have attended B2N, Netball Now, I Heart Netball League in Welwyn, and I now play in Heritage and Welwyn Hatfield Netball Leagues. I would say my starting point at Back to Netball was really what made me carry on with it and continue to play over the sports I was more comfortable with. Sarah King, who led our sessions was just full of energy, the pace and learning element of it was great but it was also so much fun – I never left a session without a smile on my face.
Your experience at back to netball and at each stage of your netball journey?
Back to Netball was amazing, it continues to be a great avenue for all participants and has so many difference values; whether it’s growing confidence, learning the sport, recovering from injury or just to make friends. I loved being there and meeting so many different people. From there I went to a B2N team who played in the I Heart Netball League, this was a team formed from players within our B2N session. We played weekly, against other B2N teams and it is again a really nice way to take the skills learnt in our sessions to match play. We went on to win this twice, which was an amazing achievement for us all – especially given most of us hadn’t played netball for very long!
After doing this for two years we formed Pumas which was a mix of two of the B2N teams in the B2N league and went on to play our first season in Division 1 of the Heritage Netball League. This sadly was cut short due to the lockdown. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a mix of league and cup matches, and over the course of the 6-7 months we grew as a team and as friends. It really is incredible to step on court with a bunch of your friends and play sport. We were promoted for the next season, which again has sadly been paused due to the pandemic. We are all super eager to get back to it ASAP. One thing I must say is the way that volunteers have pulled together to get everyone back on court for a few weeks was amazing. I really cannot thank everyone enough for the work that was put in and being able to play netball again even for a short while. I’m convinced this would have had such a positive impact on people's wellbeing and health.
I also play in the WHNL firstly with a team called Contrasol and then moved to play with Chic, both teams are just a great bunch of girls who continually make me laugh but also fill me with confidence every week to step out on court with them.
What your favourite thing about netball is?
The people, without a doubt. I have met some wonderful people along the way and been on the volunteer side of things as the chair of the WHNL. Through such an awful time I am still overwhelmed at the amount of time and effort that people took out to make sure we could get on court as soon as possible. Seeing everyone back on court for the first time after lockdown was great too, you can really see the impact being on court has. Netball is more than just a sport for most people, it is a community of people who enjoy matches, training, socialising, and making friends, supporting each other.
Where you think netball should be in the next 5-10 years?
I hope the avenues into the sport and the progression through the levels of the sport continue to grow. It’s incredible to see how many girls come through back to netball and I hope that the number of girls attending these sessions increase. The sport itself caters for such a wide range of ages and abilities it really does have the potential to grow exponentially.