As players, coaches, volunteers and fans across Wales celebrate the New Year and trudge back to work and school after Christmas, the new calendar year marks a special anniversary for a South Wales club. This year, Merthyr Ladies Netball Club celebrates ten years of netball in the heart of the South Wales Valleys.
It has been quite the journey for Merthyr over the last decade and Wales Netball has been speaking to founder Rebecca Pilarz about how it all came about.
Merthyr Ladies Netball Club was started on March 10th 2008 by local PE Teacher Rebecca Pilarz. After returning home from university Rebecca wanted to continue playing netball as a way to keep fit but found very limited opportunities within Merthyr. So she hired a sports hall, borrowed some bibs and balls and asked all of her friends to come along as a bit of fun. Twenty women showed up at that first session and continued to train weekly as a social way of playing sport and keeping healthy.
In September 2008 the players decided to enter the local A470 Netball League. In their first game, Merthyr Ladies lost 64-4 to Caerphilly Ladies. Merthyr thought they were completely out of their depth. However, they stuck at it, continued to get fit and improve their skills. A number of the players attended umpiring and coaching courses and numbers continued to grow.
Within 2 years the club had developed an Merthyr Ladies A and B team and started looking into creating a junior section.
Merthyr Ladies Netball Club now has 10 teams for a range of ages and provides wonderful opportunities for women in Merthyr Tydfil to keep fit and develop their netball skills.
The following year Merthyr Ladies A team won the A470 league and continued to go from strength to strength. The club has even continued to add further teams as they years have gone on and in their tenth year they have ten teams!
Merthyr has a committed group of coaches, players and the most supportive brilliant parents that help the club grow. Every summer they host their presentation evening and every winter they hold a Christmas party. The club does a lot of fundraising work within the community and has secured sponsorships from a range of local businesses. They have also provided mascots to support the Welsh senior squad as well as Celtic Dragons in the Superleague.
In March 2018, the club is planning a huge week of celebrations where each age group will be involved in a different activity each evening. Finishing on Saturday 10th March where they are hosting a ‘Dinner and Dance’ for everyone associated with the club over the last 10 years to celebrate all of the clubs successes together.
When asked what celebrating Merthyr’s ten year anniversary means to her, Rebecca said:
‘The last few years have been so busy, with more teams and players continuing developing at Merthyr Netball that sometimes it is easy to take the club for granted. But as we approach our 10 year anniversary I can finally stop and look back with such great pride and honour at what my family, friends, local community and Wales Netball have allowed me to achieve.
She added: “I love my club, we are a family and I look forward to the future with a great sense of achievement, excitement and pride.”
Wales Netball wishes Merthyr Ladies Netball Club all the best for their anniversary year and hopes that the club will enjoy another decade of success.
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