Clubzone: The ball is definitely in the Rebels’ court

Clubzone: The ball is definitely in the Rebels’ court

Club officer, Wendy Howell, chairperson and captain; Mary Kelly, vice-president and club secretary and Alesha Clarke, club member all set for a training session. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Head coach Wendy Howell was one of the founders and said the club has made rapid progress in five years.

“We seemed to have reignited a passion for netball around the county,” she said.

“We started out as quite a small operation, with only six members on the first night. However, once the word was out, new faces were arriving to training every week.

Cork Rebels Netball Club during a training session at the Ursuline Secondary School, Blackrock.	Pictures: Jim Coughlan
Cork Rebels Netball Club during a training session at the Ursuline Secondary School, Blackrock. Pictures: Jim Coughlan

“After playing in a few challenge matches over the summer in 2012, we were invited to join Division 1 of the national league. We are now a well-established team within the league and most definitely a force to be reckoned with.

“Since entering the league in 2013, we have fought our way to the finals three times, although we’re still yet to bring home that trophy. Pre-season training is going well this year and we have our sights set firmly on the top spot for this season!”

Kristen Pinfield, Alison O’Keeffe and Alesha Clarke
Kristen Pinfield, Alison O’Keeffe and Alesha Clarke

Player Alesha Clarke explained the attraction of the game, which is played by more than 25 million people in more than 80 countries. “There’s really no sport equivalent to netball. Basketball is probably the closest, but in netball you can’t dribble or run with the ball, and each player has an assigned position that dictates where they’re allowed on court. This makes for a very fast-paced, aggressive and highly tactical game that’s really exciting to play and watch.

“I’d love to see the sport played more here in Ireland. We are hoping to keep recruiting netballers every year, getting the word out and finding sponsors that would provide the funding and recognition we need to grow not only as a club but as a sport.”

Wendy Howell going through her paces.	Picture: Jim Coughlan
Wendy Howell going through her paces. Picture: Jim Coughlan

The Rebels are the only team playing in the national league games outside of Dublin. This means they frequently have to travel to Dublin but players describe match days as social and enjoyable, spending five hours travelling side by side for a match helps forms close and long-lasting friendships.

They have a range of ages and abilities in the club, with some players who have played at international level, while others are at more of a development stage or are converting over from other sports such as basketball or football.

While most of the members are based around Cork city and suburbs, a number of players travel from as far as Kenmare every week to get to training.

New club member, Nicole Bakker, concentrating fully as she takes part in a training session.
New club member, Nicole Bakker, concentrating fully as she takes part in a training session.

The netball season runs from October to April. Cork Rebels train on Thursday evenings and play matches in Cork and Dublin on scheduled Saturdays.

If you are interested in netball, you can make contact with the club by emailing corknetball@gmail.com or visiting their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CorkRebelNetballClub.

Wendy added: “We are always keen to recruit new players and keep the sport growing in Cork.”

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