After all the years of playing, that competitiveness that allows us to do what we do becomes automatic. It is something that is so engrained in who we are that it is almost something we no longer have control over. When we cross that line so much of what goes on is in our control & yet so much if it we still have no say over.
As players & teams, we are usually aware of what we can control - our emotions, behaviours, standards, attitude, preparation & recovery. Then there is the flip side... the things we can't control - the umpires, the crowd, the opposition, selection & injuries. When we cross that line things change, but when certain things from opposite ends 'marry up', no matter what person you've become on the other side of that line, it definitely hits a cord.
I, like many of you, was sitting at home (or more specifically, The Pullman Hotel in Auckland) & watching the Adelaide Thunderbirds v Melbourne Vixens game taking place when a scream echoed around the stadium & through our TV screens into our homes. It was Cody Lange. I think straight away everyone knew what it was. The dreaded ACL injury that has already struck players before the season even begun & which is (dare I say it), synonymous with the sport of netball. It was a shriek that made you feel sick. Without even looking at her face it was evident as to what had just happened...to hear that a player was in so much pain was not a nice one & something that no-one had any control over. When those sorts of things happen, whether it is your teammate or the 'opposition', you can't help but be stunned & affected by what has just happened. I don't think you would be human if it didn't impact you in some way.
Unfortunately for me, I have been on court numerous times when my teammates & players from the opposition have been hit with a season-ending injury. From watching Madi Robinson rupture her ACL in 2015, to standing on the transverse line when Sharelle McMahon looked behind her to realise she had snapped her achilles in 2011. Both of these also taking place in World Cup years. Then there was Casey Kopua, late 2014 in Sydney. Despite our fierce rivalry with the Silver Ferns, she is a player who I have a HUGE amount of respect for & have loved every one of our battles either directly or indirectly over the years. To hear her go down & to see her knee cap sitting not quite where it should be was not at all nice. At those times, you genuinely feel sick, or at least I do, with what has just happened. Commentators talk about the effect this has on the injured players' teammates. Whilst their shock & impact would certainly outweigh the opposition, it doesn't leave those of us skipping around the court & setting off fire crackers just because we are wearing a different coloured uniform.
At the start of every season, whilst we certainly don't wish for the opposition players to win, we do hope that the competition players stay injury free... 2016 has been far from that. So as we enter Round 3, with what is now 3 ACL injuries, all to Goal Attacks & from both sides of the Tasman, whilst we wish Tegan, Jodi & now Cody all the best with their ACL rehab, let's hope that we are done.
That we can now for the remainder of the season continue to cross that white line & it be exactly what it is meant to be... a time where we put on our game faces & play skillful, competitive & entertaining netball where we all walk off ready for what the next week will bring!
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