Thursday, August 26, 2010

Goal girls at the Commonwealth Games

Earlier this month, Carmel Wright and Dr. Bimla Pawar, 2 of the competition managers for this years Commonwealth Games in Delhi, visited the Goal girls of Delhi . They had such a great time and were so impressed by the girls that they invited the girls for a netball coaching clinic at Thyagaraj stadium, Delhi’s newest state-of-the-arts stadium constructed solely for netball. Last Saturday, the 21st of August, 25 Goal girls, the entire Goal Delhi team, as well as coaches from Goal Chennai and Mumbai, hopped on a bus and headed over to the stadium for a truly once in a lifetime experience!

Thyagaraj Stadium
Once we arrived, the girls walked off the bus and were greeted like champions. All along the entrance were staff members of the stadium waiting to greet the girls and welcome them into the stadium. The girls (and the entire Goal team!) were literally awestruck by the pure magnitude of the stadium and the fantastic reception they received. As soon as the girls settled in to the room, the first thing Dr. Bimla Pawar said was how fantastic all the girls looked. For the special event, all the girls had worn matching Goal uniforms and not only did they look great, but some of the girls exclaimed that they “felt like champions,” and “professional players,” in their uniforms.
Col. OP Bhatia inspiring the girls.

The girls were welcomed by Col. OP Bhatia, venue commander of the stadium, Dr. Pawar, and Ms. Carmel Wright. Col Bhatia welcomed the girls into Thyagaraj and told them that he hopes that in the next couple of years it will be other girls sitting in the bleachers watching the Goal girls play on the court! Ms. Wright and Dr. Pawar had created a presentation about the history, development, and rules of netball for the girls. The presentation was really helpful as many of the girls and coaches were able to learn international level netball rules first-hand from international level officials.

Dr. Pawar and Ms. Wright demonstrating netball rules
The girls were then taken on a full tour of the stadium. The girls were so excited at seeing the team changing rooms and getting an idea of the “behind the scenes” lives of professional players.

Now if that wasn’t already enough excitement, after the tour, the girls were taken to the actual netball courts. On a side note - from an outsiders’ perspective, I have to say that seeing the looks on the girls’ faces when they walked on to the court was a fantastic experience in itself. Their eyes lit up more than the massive stadium lights shining across the court! Before visiting Thyagaraj, most of the girls’ idea of a sports ground was a bumpy dirt ground covered with patchy grass (and even glass sometimes). Walking in and not just seeing, but actually playing on, one of the best netball courts in the world was spectacular to say the least.

After some warm up exercises, the girls were split into groups of 4 for some netball training practice. What was amazing is that even with 25 girls, plus coaches, each and every one of the girls was given attention from the Commonwealth staff. Ms. Wright saying “Good pass,” or Dr. Pawar yelling “Nice catch,” was equivalent to receiving a badge of honour and the girls‘proud smiles were clear evidence of this.

After practicing for some time, the girls got a chance to play a match amongst themselves. The girls scrambled for bibs and positions and finally they were ready to play. Ms. Wright acted as umpire for the game and quickly understood individual girls’ playing styles. It was so fantastic to see that despite the language barrier, Ms. Wright and the girls understood each other perfectly – sports after all doesn’t need a language!

The girls played their hearts out; if they slipped they would be up and playing again before the camera shutter could snap. At first the girls on the sidelines sat quietly and properly trying not to disrupt the game but soon their cheers echoed throughout the stadium. Everyone working around from construction engineers to the Thyagaraj management stopped to watch the match, adding their own cheers to the resounding choir of the Goal girls.

At the end of the match, everyone was scrambling trying to figure out who won the game, but in all honesty no one even cared. Smiles were abundant and laughter could be heard from every corner of the courts. The girls were taken back to the meeting room and awarded drinks and snacks. Carmel Wright thanked the girls for coming remarking how proud she was at how much their game had improved since the last time she saw them. One lucky girl, Gulabsha, was awarded an Honorary Diamond from Netball Australia for excellence in her game. The girls thanked everyone, whispering amongst themselves about how nice everyone at the stadium had been and about the fact that they had just played on the Commonwealth stadium!

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