Former New Zealand Men’s netballer Shane Simpson is excited where men’s netball is going with new initiatives at different levels – initiatives which led to one of his most memorable sporting moments.
Simpson, who has been playing netball since the early 90s, stepped out on the same court as his 18-year-old daughter, Minnie, in what the netballer described as a unique experience.
“It may be a first in New Zealand, but whatever, it was a pretty cool thing to be able to do.”
His Low Cost Bins Wellington Men’s and Mixed Netball Association men’s team came up against NaeNae Collegians Blue, who is daughter plays for, in the Netball Hutt Valley Premier 1 competition in early June.
The first half of the game saw a Simpson at either end of the court, filling the goal attack position, but the opportunity came up in the last few minutes of the game for both father and daughter to go head-to-head in the respective centre bibs.
“There had been a bit of banter earlier in the morning before the game and we gave each other a bit of stick, but I think we both realised what a unique position we’d be in if we ended up marking each other,” he said. “And we did, and Minnie got an intercept off me almost immediately which she let me know about.”
Simpson said he never dreamed he would be able to play a competitive club netball game against his teenage daughter and have the opportunity to mark her.
“It’s really special to be able to play sport alongside your family and I honestly never thought it would be possible, so it’s something I’ll definitely remember.”
The former New Zealand Men’s representative said it was a good time for men’s netball in the country and there was some pride in seeing the national men’s team and an invitational mixed team come up against the Silver Ferns in the Cadbury Netball Series in July.
He remembers training against the Silver Ferns but for the team to play in front of the public and broadcast on television was a big stride forward for men’s netball.
“It was ever only something we could tell people about. But for the public to now be able to see men’s netball against the Silver Ferns, and the skills that we can bring to the game – it’s amazing,” he said.
“I feel like Netball New Zealand is doing a lot to promote our game and if that can happen not just here, but overseas as well, then I think it can only be good for netball as a sport globally.”
He also praised Netball Hutt Valley for introducing the men’s team into the top club competition for the past two seasons, a move which he hoped would open the doors for more young men to pick up a netball.
“For our men’s team to be able to play in a Premier 1 competition has also been ground breaking and for Hutt Valley to have that vision is amazing for our game,” he said.
“I’m just one of the old guys in the team now, but it’s great to see some of these younger players come through and have that opportunity. Our game can only grow.”