When a knee injury and operation meant she had to give up playing competitive netball, Marion Cook thought her playing days were over.
She consoled herself, though, that she had played to an age most thought remarkable, and also that she could continue to be involved with the sport, supporting her daughters and grand-daughter who also play.
But then she read an article about walking netball – and how it was expanding in popularity amongst those who, through age or injury, were no longer so fleet of foot or agile.
Marion, 70, from Heathfield said: “I really thought my playing days were over. It was a shame but there was no way I could keep playing at that sort of speed with knees I could no longer rely on. As far as I was concerned I would have to hang up my trainers. But finding walking netball has been a revelation – and the trainers are back on.”
Walking netball, and its football counterpart, are versions of the original sport but with adapted rules for a gentler pace. That slows the game and makes it much more accessible.
It took a bit of bravery to attend the first training session at the Crowborough Club, but once that hurdle was over, Marion hasn’t looked back. “It has been wonderful,” she said, “I’m playing a sport I love at a pace that my knees are happy with. I’m so happy to be active and enjoying the sport again.”
But Marion said the benefit hasn’t just been her fitness and returning to a sport she thought she could no longer enjoy. “I’ve also made a whole load of new friends. People of all ages and all abilities. I think, actually, that’s become as important as the playing – the social side of it. We meet, we train, we play, we chat, we laugh…it’s great.”
And she said she would encourage anybody to join in. “There’s a real mix of people who play. Some a bit older, some younger, some who have played competitively before, some who haven’t. It’s a great way to keep fit and active, and meet new people.”
For more information about walking netball sessions in Crowborough visit Crowborough Netball