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December 2017: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Netball Clubs | Add Free Entry

The genesis of netball is one of the stranger sporting stories. After James Naismith had invented basketball, women affiliated to the School for Christian Workers (later YMCA) where he developed the game wanted to take up something similar. They adapted the method of play, for example ruling out dribbling, to suit their then too voluminous clothing. But the sport took a major detour when Naismith’s diagrammatic explanation of the rules was misinterpreted by gym mistress Clara Baer, and the idea of players being restricted to operation in zones determined by their position was born.
In spite of being an established sport for many decades, national variations in rules existed until standardisation in 1960, facilitating the first World Championships in 1963 – held in England and won as so often since by Australia. In 1998 the sport was played in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and since 1995 has been recognized by the Olympic authorities, though it is yet to feature at an Olympiad.
Though the game is American in origin, this country boasts the oldest netball club in the world, based at what was the Regent Street Polytechnic – their first game was at the Poly’s Chiswick sports facilities, just one of that borough’s claims to fame.
At the top of the game some extremely competitive and capable athletes participate – take for example Tracey Neville, sister of Gary and Phil the England footballers, who represented her country more than 70 times before injury hit her career: some could argue she is the most gifted athlete in a gifted family. The game in Britain has enjoyed a resurgence of late beyond the school and college sphere, with local leagues providing women with fun and the chance to keep fit, with maybe a small restorative afterwards, and the social benefits of a club set up.

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