Name: Sian Fenner
School: Shrewsbury High School
I have just had my 50th birthday and have been involved in netball since I was 10! I started playing at school and apart from 2 years off when I had my children, Charlotte and Alex, am still playing today. During my 40 years I have played at various levels and standards including county (Gwent and Shropshire) and National (Wales U-16, U-18 and U-21.) My early netball was played under the guidance of my wonderful PE teacher at Bassaleg Comprehensive School and the fantastic coaches at Newport Netball Club. I continued to play at Warwick University and then once I was married and settled in Shropshire, I joined Recycles NC where I have been ever since. Coaching wise I was aware from very early on just how much time and effort others were putting into developing my skills and wanted to give something back. I started by helping out at junior sessions as a teenager and then continued to develop my skills by watching others and going on courses.
My career choice was easy having been so inspired and motivated by my PE teacher, Anne Wells, that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Once qualified I was then able to expand my coaching and volunteering wherever I taught and joined county committees as well. I have coached at club and county level and to all standards of players from those trying to learn to control their feet to those who are aiming for regional selection and have loved it all. Once teaching in Shropshire I noticed that there was a need to expand the junior club set up so that I had somewhere local to send the pupils at school so that they could have the same experiences that I had been through. So, together with 2 others, I established Recycles Junior Netball Club and formed a school-club link with Shrewsbury High School. At the first session in 2003 we had 10 girls and I have been delighted to watch the club grow from strength to strength. We currently have over 100 junior players ranging from high 5 – U-16 level and every girl that trains is guaranteed to play no matter what their standard of play. Last season 10 teams played in the Shropshire Junior Netball Clubs League and as a volunteer, all the hard work that goes into organising, training and running the club is worthwhile to watch the sea of girls playing on a Sunday.
At school I have the same ethos and run teams for as many girls as want to play; this year there were 15 teams playing. As well as ensuring breadth in my netball teaching I also still manage to coach teams to reach the higher end of the performance pyramid with school teams reaching the West Midlands Schools’ regional tournament every year since I have been there. We have won the Oddfellows Shield, which is presented to the best overall performing school in the county tournaments U-12 – U-16, for 15 out of the last 16 years. I continue to keep up with new developments and ideas and this year I am going to run a netball officiating course, having hosted and attended one of the first England Netball INTO netball tutor training courses for PE teachers.
After all these years I still love teaching and coaching netball and seeing the way that it can help to develop not just a girl’s fitness but her confidence, social skills and resilience. My motivation was always to reward all those that gave up so much for me and hopefully I have inspired a few more to follow in my footsteps and give something back to this wonderful sport!
Have you ever been on a netball tour?
I have taken 2 netball tours to Ireland and 1 to South Africa and am off to South Africa again next July, 2017. Tours are a wonderful way to reward girls for all the time and effort that they put into training and helps to cement the social benefits of being part of a team. It also allows girls to see and experience places and cultures that might not have the chance to otherwise while playing the sport that they love. I have also taken 2 yr 8 squads to a JCA Netball weekend at Condover Hall for the last 6 years.
What is your most memorable volunteering experience?
Too many to compare! Beaming faces when a skill is mastered, tears of joy when girls are selected for county squads, winning a match as underdogs, running as a club in the Race for Life in memory of a founder member Rosie Turner, who died far too young from cancer.
Why do you believe you won your regional awards and have been nominated for the national netball teachers award?
No idea – I wasn’t given any feedback about it and am not sure what criteria is used to decide. I felt very honoured to win it though and it has meant a lot to me!