Going to war with miniskirts and tight tops? The backwardness of netball gears

By Melissa Talbert April 24, 2020

Hey guys! Let’s talk about sports gear. Particularly the adorable ones netballers wear.

Many years ago, I wanted to give netball a chance. It already had a lot going for itself.

Yes, it is a space mostly for women (that’s nice and all) but... the outfits!

The gears were so cute. I admired the over shoulder bibs, pleated mini skirts and sleeveless V neck tops. Actually, they looked too good to be sports gears. So I wondered how effective they really were.

Personally, I’d find it hard to concentrate looking as cute as I do. Whether you like it or not, attractiveness takes up a big part of a woman’s life. We try to look our best most of the time. Inside, outside and online. Especially if you're representing a company or team. There’s an expectation that you are required to meet. They expect you to look a certain way since branding is everything.

People associate your look with how successful you are and that impacts how you are treated. With that said, I’ll be more concerned about parading my gears instead of worrying about an actual match.

Come to think of it, I’d be self-conscious too. Well, because people are watching.

At matches, there's a camera following your every move from different angles and spectators are observing you for long periods. When you’re under a magnifying glass, It’s hard not to think about looks. It’s even possible to become a little insecure when you keep thinking about how you match up to your teammates in the same gears.

If I were a netball player, I’d be an insecure one. Girls with large butts in mini skirts!

How could I ever compete with that? I’d spend a lot of time questioning my body type and build. Like, why haven’t I grown into my long legs yet!!?

I see myself having to create a support group with my teammates who are also less voluptuous.

That way, we’ll have each other for upliftment. The support group will come in handy when I get sad about how the uniform fits me compared to my curvy teammates.

It doesn’t help that women are compared to each other often. Women even put other women under scrutiny.

You may think this is an old way of thinking because everyone seems to be all about individuality. Social media has an abundance of posts acknowledging the importance of representation and uniqueness.

Still, there are ‘who wore it better’ posts and others that make people feel inferior.

Who remembers Gabby Douglas? The American gymnast who became the first woman of colour to win the individual all-around event at the 2012 summer Olympics.

Despite her accomplishments, she was humiliated on social media because people compared her hair to the hair of her teammates’.

Can you imagine the unwanted attention I’d get in a uniform like that? A mini skirt and sleeveless tank will bring some people overwhelming excitement.

Excited fans and colleagues may make frequent advances because they see what they like. There’s nothing more annoying than feeling uncomfortable in a space you have to be in regularly. And don’t get me started with catcalling.

For some of you, it makes you feel good; lifts your spirit. For others, even though we expect people to get excited about the cute uniforms, we hate when people don’t know when to stop. Then, if we defend ourselves or speak up, chances are we’ll get disrespected.

With attention on my gears, my actual skills will be overlooked. Some people will get so focused on the uniforms that the game will become vain. It wouldn’t be about the heart of the players or the love for the game. Instead, it will be about the flirty movement of the miniskirts and the tightness of the sleeveless jerseys.

Yesterday I was watching a netball match. Specifically the 2018 Fast5 Netball World Series.  It was between Jamaica and New Zealand. I wanted to see how the gears are currently. I realized they didn’t have on over-the-shoulder bibs. Instead, the bibs were attached to their tops with what looked like velcro. During the match, a bib kept falling off. Players had to assist in sticking the bib back on. That’s not all. Jamaican players were seen dragging down their skirts to an appropriate length. I wondered if it was a distraction for them. It would’ve been for me.

It’s no secret, athletes perform better with effective gears. In 2006, the NBA ditched their leather ball for a new one. The new ball had microfiber material which gave players a better grip. In other sports, effective gears allowed athletes to cut through air easier, glide through water quicker and run without slipping. Hence sports gears can influence performance.

But netball doesn’t seem to have caught up just yet.

Please share your thoughts about netball gears on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use the hashtag IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Related items

  • Ajoni Llewelyn, taking on a small sport in a big-sport country Ajoni Llewelyn, taking on a small sport in a big-sport country

    Lately, discussions surrounding self-identity as blacks (how one's characteristics are perceived in society) have become difficult to ignore.

    Spaces like the Artistic Swimming community where historically there has not been much diversity, are slowly changing that with more representation.

    However, it’s neither here nor there for Ajoni Llewelyn, an experienced synchronised swimmer for the Jamaica Synchro team. The 19-year-old says she’s never felt out of place because of her skin complexion or natural hair at competitions. Instead she focuses solely on the sport she loves.

     

    This Q&A explores the almost 11-year journey she describes as “long, rough, challenging and fun.”

     

    Melissa Talbert (MT): What’s the most challenging thing about being a synchronised swimmer?

     

    Ajoni Llewelyn (AL): For me, the most challenging thing about synchronised swimming is learning parts of a new routine and memorising the counts for every movement.

     

    MT: What’s the best thing about being a synchronised swimmer?

     

    AL: The best thing about being a synchronised swimmer is that I get to help my coach make up routines with the help of others and teach younger girls how to swim.

     

     

    MT: What are some accomplishments you’ve had as a synchronised swimmer?

     

    AL: Height is required in everything! One accomplishment would be improving my height in my vertical (upside down in one straight line). Besides that, I have many accomplishments in competitions and ones that happen in training. I would say Carifta 2018 was a big one because I was first in the duet Junior. My participation in the Central American Caribbean Swimming Federation (CCCAN) competition is also an accomplishment though I don’t remember my placement. I just really appreciate moving from one stage to another; gaining growth, wisdom and strength.

     

    MT: Where do you see yourself in five years?

     

    AL: Coaching!

     

    MT: What are some obstacles you've overcome and how did you overcome them?

     

    AL: I have had a lot of obstacles, most of them I haven’t gotten over yet. One is the pool coverage. When I swim my solo, I don't utilize the pool space enough- so now I move more.

    Another obstacle? Well, I tried my best at speed swimming then injured my shoulder. That held me back in synchro because my severe shoulder pains made it difficult to accomplish anything. Even when I try ( and trust me I try) I still have shoulder issues. So even though I'd like to try new things, I have to be careful of my shoulder. Hurting my shoulder was a major setback.

     

    MT: How influential are your parents in your career? (Have they helped you in any way?)

     

    AL: My mother is the manager of the team so I have to push more. I have her full support in things related to swimming. My mother judges at all my swim meets and doesn’t mark me higher than anyone even though I'm her daughter.

     

    MT: How important is it to have a support system?

     

    AL: It's very important to have support. Why? Because it’s a very hard sport!!

    My support system consists of my mother (who is the manager), my coach and my teammates. But, I really don't need to rely on anybody except for when I go to competitions and I feel like I cannot do it. I go to my teammates and they’ll say, “Okay Ajoni, you can do it! You know you can do it... you’ve done it in training...” That’s the support I get and I don't mind because it’s really good.

     

     

    MT: Describe your favourite routine.

     

    AL: My solo is my favourite routine. It is swum by one person and requires movement, pointed toes and energy. I’m always giving the judges expressions and I try to flow to the music. I just do as best as I can.

     

    MT: Why is it your favourite?

     

    AL: My solo is my favourite routine because I can enjoy myself, make small mistakes and finish it knowing I gave my best.

     

    MT: What is a routine you found very difficult at first but got the hang of later?

     

    AL: I found the teams (consisting of four or eight swimmers) very difficult but once I go over it in my head and remember the routine it eventually becomes easier. Plus, I know I’m replaceable so it pushes me to do better. And I have no choice but to get the hang of things because I’m the eldest in my group and I have to be an example to the others.

     

    MT: Do you see a lot of girls who look like you at competitions?

     

    AL: No. We mostly compete in the Caribbean and in our region it’s mostly Hispanic, French and sometimes white athletes.

     

    MT: If you could give advice/tips to up and coming synchronised swimmers, what would it be?

     

    AL: I would tell them to be ready to have a mindset to work hard through good and bad times. Every time you work hard in whatever you do, it will pay off in a good way.  

  • Synchronised swimmers have to start somewhere – Jamaican programme ramps up recruitment efforts Synchronised swimmers have to start somewhere – Jamaican programme ramps up recruitment efforts

    Synchronised swimming in Jamaica is missing one critical element.

    The sport needs more participants if it is to grow and have success like the sporting exploits of other areas like football, cricket and track and field.

    Synchro swimmers put considerable effort into their themes and choreography with beginner classes for synchronised swimmers serving as a stepping stone to elaborate routines and impactful projects.

    Recently I witnessed where local synchronised swimmers can end up, here’s where they can get started.

    The Jamaica Synchronised Swimming team is calling boys and girls ages 5 to 10 to attend synchronised swimming lessons. Lessons are available in Montego Bay, Portland and Kingston and cost $300 per hour plus any pool entrance fees that the venue will charge. In Kingston, they are held at the National Stadium pool on Thursdays- Fridays at 2pm-5pm and on Saturdays at 9am-12pm.

    Former Cuban national coach, Yoaris Milian, will coach in Kingston and Montego Bay and multi Olympic gold medallist Russian swimmer, Olga Novokchshenova, in Portland.

    The talented coaches will facilitate “land exercises to strengthen the core muscles and build stamina (cardio) as well as pool exercises, taking them through learning the figures that will be used later to create routines,” so says Maureen Smith, vice-president of Artistic Swimming at Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ).

    Though synchronised swimming is an exclusively female Olympic sport, there are other international bodies that welcome boys. Inclusivity is valued by the Jamaica Synchro team and so they are ready to prepare local boys that already have a passion for dancing and the water.

    “Boys are a new addition as the international body has changed synchronised swimming to Artistic swimming to attract boys. Competitions now include duets with boys and girls...even boy solos now,” said Smith.

    “Preferred age range is 5-10 because it's easier for them to learn, their muscles are more flexible and this is also for longevity in the sport. We can go outside of the age range if persons already have skills like swimming, dancing, gymnastics or they learn quickly and are not afraid of the water,” Smith said.

    Children are placed in time slots as a protocol for COVID-19. Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact the team first. Still, the protocols observed will not take away from having fun, learning new skills, making friends, getting strong, travelling the world and participating in amazing projects.

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

  • From hero to villain, the goalie holds the one job I wouldn’t want From hero to villain, the goalie holds the one job I wouldn’t want
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.