Earlier this year I visited a nursing home in Macclesfield to reminisce with some of their residents about their netball and sporting histories.
The first lady I met was Joan, who is 90 years old and played netball in her youth. Joan played netball because she ‘loved the game’ and ‘liked the team spirit’. Joan was an English teacher by profession and helped with netball at the school she taught at. She commented on the kit, as skirts were longer than they are today. The position Joan played most was Goal Keeper. Joan did not get much support from home, had to travel to matches on the bus by herself and her family did not go to watch her games. I showed Joan a netball book published by England Netball in the 1950s, which she immediately recognised and enjoyed looking through.
I met Annie, who had a strict Catholic upbringing and whose family could not afford the kit for her to play netball.
A lady called Margery went to a school, which had no sporting facilities and she also had a heart condition, so could not play sports.
Another resident, June, remembered playing netball and really enjoyed it, she played centre. Her school timetabled netball once a week, while the boys played football.
Although it can be difficult for some nursing home residents to remember their school days, reminiscence is important to gather information that would otherwise be lost. It is also important to people with conditions such as dementia as talking about the past keeps the brain active. It is also nice for people to discuss their history with others outside of their family unit, so they realise their history is important.