A Netball Memoir…
By: Lauren Veroude (Utrecht Netball Club co-founder )
Costa Brava 2018, 5.15pm. Head spinning. Two days of netball just completed. Feelings are mixed at this point in time, so several of us Westie chiccas head directly to the bar to order some beer, and some gin and tonic for the more decadent, to help us recover from what is happening. We muse between ourselves about what could have been and what went wrong along the way that made us miss any kind of final after a non-stop winning streak. We lost the last two matches of the day and suddenly it was all over. Another beer please. And a G&T for the fancy.
The captains have their own struggles and are MIA, so I wander down to the beach to take a dip in the ocean in my underwear. Black undies and a bright pink sports bra can pass for tawdry bathers, I have decided. I only go in up to my waist even though the crystal clear waters of the Spanish coast are whispering to me to get in-I resist as I am holding out for the post-tournament collective group pool jump. I stand waist deep in the sea and process the last hour’s events: We lost. We came to win and we lost. No semi-final, nothing. A string of wins to which we could hold our heads up high, but missing out on any sort of final hurt. Propelled back onto the beach by waves, I slide my Amsterdam dress over my dripping body, and return to the hotel. I don’t want to miss that pool jump.
Back up at the hotel I order some more beer and G&Ts for some of the Westies. The losing pain lessens a little. Sprawled out on deck chairs we chat a little and hear the ping from an app from the captains asking us to regroup in 5 minutes at the hotel’s entrance. Captains have been relocated. We mosey on over to the foyer trying to further shake off that losing feeling and regret. Sombre faces are replaced by smiles when we are presented with some very ‘wrong’ t-shirts stating “I love LLoret de Mar” as attire for the evening’s fancy dress party. The captains had been out shopping.
With spirits lifted, it’s finally time for the pool jump so we remove all unnecessary garments. We line up, photographer at the ready and are set on having a co-ordinated jump. As our knees bend, ready for lift off, an opposition netballer shrieks us to a stop – “the final is about to be played and you are in it”, she says. “What? No we’re not! Or…are we?”
Startled, we start running around like headless chickens, showcasing our netball agility, changing directions at high speed (no bananas here, Lucy!). The idea of still making finals after losing 2 matches out of 11 had been floated, but not considered to be a true possibility. We were out. Or so we all thought. We had decided we were out, but never checked with any officials.
The captains return swiftly to confirm that it is true. WE ARE IN. We have 5 minutes to get ourselves ready and to get a team strategy happening. Where’s my thumb brace, I have to change my undies, I need powder; I have chafing from the salt in the sea. I can feel the beers I just drank. This is not good final preparation, I think to myself! My fellow Eastie team-mate runs alongside me acting as a personal assistant in getting me ready for the final. I have my nervous wee and run downstairs for the the team pep talk. It’s exhilarating. We are given our positions and walk on court.
We play hard. Amsterdam West are a formidable force, but our opponents are the better team. They have too many mesmerising moments and we can’t break them. We lose to a team worthy of losing to.
Ultimately we place third and I am happy. We came to win, but a place is more than good enough for me, especially after we thought we had nothing. Go Amsterdam West!
Photo credit: Fay Beighton
Excessive amounts of gratitude to the random fellow netballer – or we may have missed the finals completely. Thank-you friend.
And an extra special thank-you to our Amsterdam East sisters who supported us all of the way through the tournament and helped the Westies get themselves on court on time for the final! Couldn’t have done it without you.
Please always check your results with officials before going to the bar.