Here if you need: An ode to my netball girls  

By Olivia Martini 

As I step into the centre circle to start the game, from behind I hear, “I’m here if you need!”  

As I run across the court, I see our Wing Attack hurl the ball to the Goal Attack after she yells, “I’m here if you need!” 

As I toe the goal circle, I yell, “I’m here if you need!”  

My team, The Sweaty Betty’s, are a wonderful concoction of strong, young women who proudly wear pink bibs and silk ribbons to each game.  

Growing up I was never one for sports. I played touch football and volleyball in the early years of high school, but soon choir rehearsals and drama lessons slowly took the place of training and after school games. Sport seemed to subside from my life. For exercise, I ran or cycled or swam, which are all solo activities.  

But one sunny afternoon, after a particularly draining lecture about journalism law, my friend looked at our little group of five and suggested something that would forever change our university experience.  

“Why don’t we play netball? Like socially?” she said. Looking back, it’s unclear whether our agreement was due to the monotonous lecture and the feeling that you’ll never be energised again, or from an eagerness to participate. We all nodded and agreed to give it a red-hot go.  

That night, we researched how to register, and we gathered a couple more friends to add to our little team. I asked my good friend from high school to join. Now we had a team of about eight people.  

We were all a little apprehensive. I researched the rules and watched countless videos on the complexities of netball. Did you know that you must have at least a metre of room between you and the person you pass the ball to, otherwise it’s called a ‘short pass’ which is not allowed? Honestly, me either, and I still forget sometimes.  

I think our first game can be likened to a new puppy being brought into the house; clumsy, unaware of any rules, untrained, eager to run anywhere, and very bad at judging distance. We were completely hopeless. 

After three semesters of playing, I like to look back on that first game and reflect on how far we have come. Now, we all have positions that we gravitate towards. Mine is usually Centre or Wing Attack, which I swap with my friend. We have our shooters and defenders and our cheer squad too. We’ve started to get into a rhythm and even scored a few goals.  

Our record is currently 16 points! To many players, this is infinitesimally low. To our team, it is our greatest achievement.  

The Sweaty Bettys are a strong and positive force on the court. We mastered the game together. We have grown together. We’ve learnt about each other more than we’ve learnt about the rules of netball. When our team plays, I feel supported and loved.  

Now when I need help off the court, I have a strong support network that will welcome me with open arms. A small idea after a boring lecture transformed into a group of lifelong friendships. I urge you to join a social team. Jump out of your comfort zone and enjoy social sport for what is truly is – a fun way to exercise your blues away. Find your Sweaty Bettys.  

I am not afraid to fail on the court because I know my team will pick me up. I know I can count on my friends for support when I hear, 

“I’m here if you need!”  


Olivia Martini is in her third year of journalism studies, working her way through a Bachelor of Communications. She has reported and written on things great and small – from political responses to youth crime to little baby bandicoots. Her love of writing spans fact and fiction. When she isn’t busy interviewing, writing and recording, she loves to draw. Olivia also has a strong passion for radio and hopes to be a strong voice on the airwaves in the future. Listen out!

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