Three women who have devoted many hundreds of hours to netball were themselves centre court when they were recognised for their contribution to the sport last weekend.
Sally Bell, of Clyde, and Barbara Rangiwai, of Alexandra, were made life members of the Central Otago Netball Centre, and Karen Moore, also of Alexandra, was given a service award, during an end-of-season function on October 27.
Mrs Bell has played or been involved in the sport since she was at school, and she is not saying how long ago that was.
A former centre president for 10 years, she has been looking after the centre’s administration since 2015.
She has also been a school coach and is involved in tournament organisation and coaching.
“I also organised the Barbara Bell Memorial Tournament for secondary schools,” Mrs Bell said.
“She was my mother-in-law.
“I always loved playing netball and it was probably my mother-in-law’s influence which got me on to the administration side.”
Mrs Bell would like to see more players and volunteers become involved in the sport.
“Netball is a great game. It is fast and you make a lot of friends.
“There are lots of opportunities to get involved in playing or umpiring or administration.”
There are 38 junior teams and 28 senior teams at the centre, and teams come from Roxburgh, Ranfurly and Cromwell to play in Alexandra each week during the season.
Mrs Rangiwai has been involved with the centre and at club level for more than 40 years as mentor, umpire and fundraiser. Two of her claims to fame are her sandwiches and sponge drops.
She said she made the sandwiches for sale in the canteen during tournaments.
“I am chief cook and bottle washer,” Mrs Rangiwai said.
Mrs Bell said, “They are the best sandwiches ever.”
Mrs Rangiwai turned her hand to any job that needed to be done, including sweeping the courts when necessary.
Mrs Bell said they could ask her to do anything and she would.
Mrs Rangiwai also wanted to see more people involved in the sport.
“Just try it. You can make lifetime friendships.
“If you don’t like playing, there is umpiring or administration.”
Mrs Moore moved from Southland about 10 years ago and started umpiring for the centre about the same time.
“I have been involved in coaching the umpires,” she said.
“I got talked into going on the committee and have never left.”
She has also been involved in the junior umpire academy, as well as being the umpire co-ordinator and trainer, and makes sure coaching is available for those umpires who want it.
“There is always a shortage of umpires. Just get involved, as it is not as hard as people might think, and it is worthwhile.