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Coach recalls history of Stamford league

Welland Ladies netball team, the longest serving team in the Stamford league. From left, back, Beth Barwell, Charlotte Fletcher, Kerry Porter, Imi Shaw and Laura Walsh.  Front, Rosie Barker, Bethany Bennett and Becca Wright.
Photo: MSMP271112-025ow

Welland Ladies netball team, the longest serving team in the Stamford league. From left, back, Beth Barwell, Charlotte Fletcher, Kerry Porter, Imi Shaw and Laura Walsh. Front, Rosie Barker, Bethany Bennett and Becca Wright. Photo: MSMP271112-025ow

Generations of women have now played in Stamford Netball League since its launch with just eight teams in a single division in 1979.

Now, 33 years later, the league is stronger than ever - boasting 24 teams and three divisions from across the Stamford and Rutland area.

Helen Drake from Stamford knows more about the league than most. She first joined in 1982 with her team Welland Ladies who now top the third division and are one of the longest-serving teams in the league.

“Funnily enough daughters of the players from the original team now play for us, so it’s a real family affair,” said Helen who has retired from the game and now coaches.

In the mid 1990s, around the time Blackstones became the venue for all matches, the league began targeting younger players. This is when current captain and ‘big sister’ to the Welland Ladies, 31-year-old Kerry Porter, started playing.

“During the 90s a lot of schoolgirls began playing. Then they would go away to university, but they tend to come back once they finish their studies,” said Helen who reveals how the league and sport have evolved.

“Apart from the increase in teams within the league, the standard of play has improved - it’s competitive but fun”.

Some of the teams in the league are lucky enough to be sponsored by local businesses, while others rely on their players to fund their own kit and court fees - such as Welland.

On Monday evenings, those women who are a bit dusty can take advantage of the training evening at Blackstones from 7-8.30pm, with matches at the same venue on Tuesdays.

Helen adds: “The league is a really good size at the moment, but we would still like to see some youngsters be part of it. If we had time we would like to go into schools and encourage the girls there to get involved”.

Proud of her team, she adds: “Even though I no longer play I come along every week to support and encourage them. We’ve got our fingers crossed for promotion this season.”

To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/Stamford-
Netball-League

 

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