The more I think about it, the more I am sure netball is just a massive prank being played on all girls.
They get you into school, split you into two teams based on whether you have inny or outy genitals, and then tell you about the sports you’re going to learn.
“Outy genitals, follow me! We’re going to be learning football… you get this ball, you pass it between yourselves, tackle each other and try and get it into this wide metal frame at either end here. Now, here are the complicated bit, you must not touch it with your hands… ok? Also, you can only pass to a player who has at least one player of the opposing team in front of him, ok? One of you will be goal keeper - they can touch it with their hands, got it?”
“Brilliant, yeah. That seems simple enough.”
“The simplicity is the key… once you’ve learned this game, you can play it anywhere with anyone and anything. Kick a stone, score between two jumpers, play with only five of you, play with people who don’t speak the same language… It’s the beautiful game!”
“It is Outys, it is. Now, off you go.”
The Inny genitals start rustling with excitement; this sports malarkey sounds good.
“Right, Innys, over here! We’re going to be learning netball… you get this ball, you throw it between yourselves, try to intercept, and get it into these tiny baskets way above your heads on either side of the court. Now, here’s the complicated bit, you can’t touch each other, you can’t run while you’re holding the ball (well, you can land with one foot and then place the other foot down and move it from a pivoted position on the first foot), you can throw it or bounce it to each other but it can only bounce once if you bounce it, you each get a different name too: Centre, you can go anywhere except in the D at either end, Goal Keep you can go in one third of the court, same for Goal Shoot, except you’re in the opposite third, Wing Attack you can go up to the one third line and over there but not in the D, Goal Attack you can go in two thirds of the court. You’re each paired up with your opposite and have to do your best to stop them being able to throw the ball but you have to be a metre away and not touch the ball while they’re holding it. Ok, that’s the basics, are you ready?”
“Er, yeah, I guess so… And, um, we can play this at break times or, with a stone and some jumpers like you said?”
“Absolutely not, no, you will need the baskets and we won’t allow those out during breaks.”
“Right, got you. Ok, but it can break down language barriers and stuff like with…?”
“Oh absolutely not, no, pretty much no one else in the world will have any idea what you are talking about when you explain it to them. The best you will be able to do is say “It’s sort of like frigid basketball” and apologise.”
“Cool. Right. Well, never mind, we’ll know about it! Can’t wait until we’re 45 and sitting around in the pub having a drink together and watching netball on the TV in there. Who are some of the bigger teams we could support?”
“Ooh, yeah, no… you see… actually, there’s no money whatsoever in it so it is completely ignored by everyone except teachers and girls between the age of 5 and 15. No, what will happen is we’ll drill you on this from now until you leave school and then we’re just going to stop mentioning it altogether, ok? Beyond that, if you really want to continue you will be able to seek out small local leagues or follow the pro teams if you really make the effort.”
“Right, is there any chance you could teach us football then actually, because it just seems like a more inclusive game that will give us a bit more of an equal footing in the future?”
“No, we’ve already bought the bibs now.”