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featured, Getting to Know You, Netball

Getting To Know You: Chichester Netball League

19 Jul , 2016  

Sports are more than just championship matches, they’d be nothing without grassroots passion. I met Chichester Netball League founder Gilly to find out how.

For our first ever Getting To Know You (our new monthly look at your local team) I spoke to Gilly, a netball player with passion who set up a local league to grow the game she adores. One of the driving forces behind Chichester Netball League, Gilly ‘s always loved sport, she told me the story of the birth of the league which involved some talented teammates, wine round the kitchen table and a touch of luck.

But we’ll find that out later, let’s find out more about Gilly first.


Gilly & netball team mate

Gilly & her teammate in their Blue Flame kit with our FORZA Netball.


When did you start playing netball? Is it a lifetime passion?

I started playing netball aged 8, we were a tall bunch of girls at Blackheath High in London. I can’t remember us losing a game in the area! I’m still friends with most of the team 40 years on, we are all about 5ft 10. I carried on a senior school; I even played GS (Goal Shooter) for the U16 team when I was 12.

I moved to the south coast when I was in my late twenties and started a team with my neighbour, we played in the Portsmouth league until I was expecting my eldest son. Then 15 years later, I joined a team again, we play in the Portsmouth league. This year I started up a Chichester league with a couple of other women.


Action from the league final

Action from the league’s final. Credit: Huw Griffiths

Sounds like you were a natural-born netballer! What positions do you play?

I don’t mind where I play really. GS when I was at school and now I tend to play GD (Goal Defence), my height is useful in the D*! It’s harder to find players who want to play defence. I have to say I still quite enjoy shooting and I’m quite pleased when the team is short a shooter and I can fill in!

*The semi-circle in which players have to be in to shoot or defend.


Why did you decide to create your own league?

The traffic to get to Portsmouth is horrendous!

Having a league on our doorsteps is great, that was the incentive really. It’s great to nip out, have an hour’s netball and be home in 10 mins. Plus we can’t get enough netball.


How did you go about doing it? Did you have any help?

It came together really easily. A few local teams got together for a friendly mini tournament, from arranging that I got to know Kat from the Midhurst team and Penny from Selsey Dolphins. The 3 of us got together, it’s amazing what three woman and a bottle of wine around a kitchen table can do!

We seemed to have all the right skills that we needed. I am a web designer, Penny is a retired umpire/coach, Kat dealt with getting us sponsorship and the financial side. We now have another committee member Jo who will sort out the fixtures for next season.


Chichester Netball League Final

Some impressive skills on show in Chichester. Credit: Huw Griffiths

It seems fate was on your side – lucky for Chichester! How many teams are involved in you league?

There are 8 teams in the league and we have had interest from more for next season.

We were lucky to secure the use of the local uni facility, I was there watching my youngest son practise with his football team and noticed there were lines for 3 indoor netball courts! I contacted the uni and the rest is history.

We are using the courts in the when the students are not really there but they are impressed with what we have done so will put teams from the uni into the league and enable us to continue there in the autumn.

It would be great to get even more teams involved, that way teams find their level in the divisions and make for closer, more exciting games.


Gilly with Dustin Brown

Proof that Gilly is a real tennis fan.

If you didn’t play netball, what other sport would you play?

I play tennis! It’s almost as much of a passion as netball. When I had tennis elbow I could still play netball and when I tore my ankle ligaments playing netball I could get back on the tennis court before I could the netball court.


Damn, nothing can keep you off the court! What advice would you give to young athletes?

Keep playing, don’t stop a sport when you leave school, keep your fitness up and the skills developing, there is always more to learn.


Finally, how can people get involved with your league if they’ve got a hankering for some netball?

Contact us via Facebook or our website.  We have had a lot of enquiries and most of those players have been absorbed into teams. We also need league floaters that teams can contact if they are short a player, they are always in demand.

Does your sports team deserve a moment in the spotlight? Want to show the talent and dedication put into your league? Then get in touch and you could be the stars of our next Getting To Know You feature!


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