Sports talk: ‘Age doesn’t matter in netball’
In the spotlight this month is Elsie Williams, chair and secretary of Wells Netball Club
Tell us a bit about your background in netball, Elsie.
I’ve played netball since I was 11, first at school and later for Liverpool Schoolgirls, but stopped playing when I left home to go to university. Moving around the country due to work and then having children meant it was difficult to get involved with netball clubs for any length of time, although I did continue playing. But things changed in 1984 when I moved to Wells from Durham.
I joined the netball club in 1985 and have been a member ever since. The club was then in its infancy and had only one team, playing games and training at Wells Blue School.
Give us a bit of an insight into Wells Netball Club.
The club was formed in 1983 when Tracey Tibbs, Karen Deverell and a small group of people who loved netball at school wanted to continue playing. It has grown from that small beginning to a thriving club, with three teams in the Somerset Senior league and a strong junior section.
The senior teams play in three of the five county leagues; Swans, the first team, are in the Premier League, Bishops, the second team, in the First Division, and Canons, the third team, in the Second Division.
All leagues are very competitive, with games usually being played on Saturdays and involve travelling to venues around the county. The playing season runs from September to May.
Where is the club based?
Our home courts are at the Sports Ground on Rowdens Road. The club is part of Wells Sports Club, who lease the ground from Mendip District Council.
We’ve been at the Sports Ground since 1995, when money was raised to have the courts laid. Several years of further fundraising enabled us to have floodlights installed, allowing the courts to be used for evening training sessions and games.
Tell us a bit about the people at the club.
We have approximately 25 senior members, ranging in age from teenagers to over 60. Age really doesn’t matter in netball. We also have up to 30 juniors, who play in the Somerset junior leagues.
The club also has several qualified umpires, and both senior and junior training sessions are overseen by a qualified coach, all done on a voluntary basis.
Netball is growing in popularity thanks to the success of the national team. Has that had an impact on the sport locally?
Netball is thriving in Somerset, partly as a result of the gold medal won by England in the last Commonwealth Games. That raised national awareness of the sport, but initiatives put in place by All England Netball to increase participation have also helped. ‘Back to Netball’ sessions, for those who haven’t played for some time, and more recently ‘Walking Netball’, have been particularly successful.
If people want to join the netball club, when and where is training?
Training takes place on Thursday evenings at the Sports Ground; Juniors from 6pm-7.15pm, and Seniors from 7.15pm-9pm. Our season runs from September until May, although training begins in July when team selection for the new season takes place.
We are always happy to welcome new members. Age and ability don’t matter, just come along and have a go. We’re a very friendly and welcoming club. In addition to training and playing games we have an active social scene, enjoying nights out in Bristol and Bath as well as locally, with the occasional trip to watch Team Bath play.
• You can find us on Instagram and Facebook (Wells Netball Club), or contact us on 07790 466436.