When does women’s sport just become sport? It is a question asked by many of Britain’s elite sportswomen and it is something of a minor bugbear for those who will take to the court for the start of the Netball Quad Series on Sunday.
Only a minor annoyance, because netball sits at the forefront of the women’s sport movement and the players are the first to acknowledge how their lives have changed through the growing exposure given to their previously under-appreciated sport.
But if any England players limp off court with an injury against New Zealand in Liverpool or if an Australia player produces an outlandish piece of skill against South Africa that goes viral, their gender will not matter. Women playing netball experience exactly the same highs and lows as a man playing any other sport.
“Come and watch us and you will see it’s irrelevant that it’s women playing – we’re athletes,” Lisa Alexander, Australia’s head coach, told the Telegraph. “I’m a coach and I want to be known as a world-class coach.
“I want to be able to go and have coffee with [Liverpool Football Club manager] Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool, have a discussion with him about coaching and have him respect what I have to say based on the fact that I coach the No 1 team in the world in a world-class sport. That’s where we need to get to.”