By setting myself forty challenges, I was well aware that 2014 was going to be a busy and testing year. Finding out I’d be losing my job, and therefore having to find work was an added pressure that I could have done without—although in fairness the end result was (and is) better than I could have ever hoped for.
So whilst 2015 was always intended to be a much quieter year, the thing about attempting and completing tasks, or overcoming challenges is that the ultimate sense of achievement actually becomes quite addictive: the more demanding the test, the better the feeling….
With that in mind, I am very happy to confirm that on Saturday 16th May, I will be having a go at a twelve-hour solo darts marathon at the Cleveland Inn in Normanby.
Have I done anything like this before? Actually yes! Back in 1985, I took part in a twenty-four hour event, but as part of a team of four. It was tough, but I was only twenty, so physically (apart from being tired), I coped pretty well. However, two of the team ended up soaking aching limbs, their lower legs having ballooned after hours on their feet—and the concern is that they were younger then than I am now….
The plan, therefore, is to lose a few pounds, get a bit fitter and, of course, do some serious practice on the dartboard.
As with everything I did last year, there is an organisation that I want to support: this time it is Grangetown Netball Club.
The club was founded in 1986 by Gel Williams, who is still head coach. From humble beginnings, through the dedication and determination of Gel and a group of volunteers, Grangetown can now boast a team that plays in National Premier League 2 (only Team Northumbia’s Super League side and Hartlepool-based Prem 1 Club Oaksway are ranked higher in the whole of the north east), as well as a strong senior side and a whole range of age-group squads.
So as well as providing a platform for the best local players to showcase their talents, Grangetown are nurturing and developing potential Premier and Super League players of the future, as well as offering youngsters the chance to simply learn the game and experience the enjoyment, and physical benefits of team sport.
What has been achieved in less than thirty years is remarkable, but as well as the considerable time and effort that is invested behind the scenes, there are also significant financial demands. In amongst all the league and affiliation fees, hire charges, clothing, equipment etc, there is also the cost of travelling to all the away games.
Again, there is a reliance on volunteers for the local or regional fixtures, but what about the Prem games? If I asked you to guess how many miles the girls have to travel for just nine away matches, what would you say?
1,000 miles? Maybe 2,000?
The answer is actually a staggering 4,000 miles.
The commitment of the players who spend time away from their families not just to push themselves to be the best they can, but also to fly the flag for local netball is remarkable. I have watched virtually all this season’s home games, and the atmosphere around the club is welcoming and friendly, but that doesn’t hide a steely resolve to produce performances and results that will keep taking the club forward.
It’s going to take plenty of resolve to throw darts for twelve hours, but it promises to be a fantastic day, with plenty of other things planned away from the dartboard. I’ll be posting more details over the forthcoming weeks, but for now, I would love to get some messages of support (especially from the netball and darts communities), so that I can spread the word and make the event a real success… because Grangetown Netball Club deserves nothing less.