Netball teams from Spain and the UK will take to the courts on the Costa del Sol this Saturday 1 June for an annual international tournament. The event, held at Laude San Pedro school, where some of the women also train each week, will for the first time raise funds through a raffle for Rescued Paws Spain, a local charity that rescues animals.
Two Costa del Sol clubs, Marbella and Manilva, will be joined by British teams Fetcham and Portishead Planets this weekend. The tournament, which is open to spectators, will start at 10am, running into the afternoon, followed by an evening social.
Sponsored by My Lawyer in Spain, the event will include a selection of healthy food and refreshment options on sale throughout the day.
Marbella Netball Club, which hosts this tournament annually, was established in 2007 when a group of mothers got together to play the sport in their free time. Today, the club is made up of around 40 active members of different ages and backgrounds, but all with one very similar motivation: "to keep fit in a fun and enjoyable way", their social media manager Michelle Bendel told SUR in English.
The club, with a "relaxed, open atmosphere", encourages women of all levels to take part, explained Michelle. Many have not played for decades and some have never played at all, she said, adding that the group benefits from a qualified netball coach who leads the sessions each week.
In addition to training and competing together, the teams also enjoy getting together off the court for regular social events. This makes it especially inviting to those new to the area who want to get out and meet like-minded people, explained Michelle.
In addition to pivoting on the Costa del Sol, the club also heads to Gibraltar fortnightly to play in the popular league there. This is a particular highlight for Michelle, who emphasises how "sport is a really good way of bringing people together". She went on to highlight that they want "to bring netball to people, as there are not any team sports particularly for women here".
A typically British sport, netball is practically unknown in Spain outside the expat community. Michelle stresses, however, the teams welcome and encourage all nationalities to join and their primary goal is to draw "attention to netball on the coast".
The tournament, open to the general public, is on Saturday 1 June from 10am at Laude San Pedro International School in Marbella.
Marbella Netball Club holds weekly training sessions on Mondays from 7 to 9pm at the school. A free taster session is offered.
For more information search Marbella Netball Club on Facebook.