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Marshalls court Met League progress

07:00 23 September 2016

Marshalls Purple

Marshalls Purple

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Expanding club hoping for more success

Sarah and Sheila Maynard of Marshalls ParkSarah and Sheila Maynard of Marshalls Park

Romford’s Marshalls Netball Club was only founded in 2000, but has grown rapidly to now find itself fielding eight senior and four junior teams.

They have now around 160 members, ranging in ages from a year four schoolgirl to a 62-year-old, and club secretary Sheila Maynard says they have an open-door policy.

Maynard played as a youngster herself, but stopped at the age of 16 and says she didn’t really have a sporting hero of her own.

But netball has consumed everyday life since she returned to it at the age of 40.

“Sport wasn’t as publicised then. There was nobody to look up to as such. It’s gone hell for leather since, though, and taken over my life!” she said.

“I’ve played, coached and umpired, but I don’t play any more. I do the backroom work for the coaches to keep the club ticking over, so coaches can coach the teams.”

It all began when Maynard’s daughter Sarah was playing for another local club, which disbanded.

“A few of the other mums badgered me to train them, which I did,” she said.

“Netball is a fun, enjoyable team sport to play and it’s all-female, the girls really enjoy playing. But it’s a bit big now and still growing!”

With just enough players for two teams at the beginning, the new club chose to adopt the name of the school where they trained – Marshalls Park – for an hour on Friday evenings.

Colours of purple and black were selected and as new members started to join, they expanded training times to two and a half hours, with Ed Butterworth and Sarah Maynard starting to help with coaching.

A switch to Thursday night sessions in 2007 allowed more girls to join, before a merger with Floaters two years later led to more senior players coming on board.

Two teams from Phoenix joined in July 2015 to further strengthen the Marshalls club and Maynard added: “They come from all different areas and walks of life.

“We had some trials and it was a real mix. One of the women was 57 and there were two 16-year-olds. The youngsters enjoy playing with the older women, who have that knowledge and experience, and none of the older ones mind playing with the younger ones.”

The club also launched a Primary School Rally back in 2000, with all schools in Havering invited to take part, and saw 31 teams from 17 institutions compete one year.

And after gaining its bronze Club Action Plan (CAP) award in 2010, recognising them as a club committeed to promoting safe and enjoyable netball with dedicated volunteers, they are working towards the silver accreditation, with six level two coaches and five level one coaches.

Maynard said: “I do think we’ve got a good combination and coaches who have come through the club.

“We’ve got five who have come through the ranks from the age of nine and 10 to become coaches and give something back and they’re still playing.”

As for hopes of on-court success this season, Marshalls Purple play in Division One of the Essex Met League, with Yellow (Div 2), Red (Div 4), White (Div 5), Black (Div 6), Gold (Div 7), Pink and Silver (both Div 10) also competing.

And Maynard is hoping they can achieve their goals, adding: “We’ve got a really good first-team squad this year.

“We would like our first team to get into the Regional League again. They would need to finish high up in the Essex Met and then win the play-offs. We’ve been to the play-offs for the last two years.

“If we can stay in the divisions we are in and improve where we can, bring the youngsters on.

We like to go out and win, but it is the taking part that counts. We want girls to go out and play, exercise and enjoy it.”

Enjoyment is a big factor and a day at Redbridge Sports Centre, where matches will be staged on 14 Saturdays from September 24 to April 29, does sound like fun and a chance to maintain friendly rivalries.

“We’re allocated courts by Essex Met at Redbridge and it’s brilliant. There’s no travelling involved, we’re just given the times and it’s lovely over there.

“The courts are good and we quite like it. I’m over there from 9.30 until 4.30pm most Saturdays.

“I’m good friends with other clubs. We’re rivals on the court, but we’re friends off it. We’ve all got our good and bad points!

“I never turn anyone away from the club. If anyone phones to enquire, they’re always more than welcome. We want people to get out there and play sport and be in a team.”

And you can’t say fairer than that.

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