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Athlete Khulood Sabah is thrilled to be the first Bahraini president of the kingdom’s netball committee and aims to inspire more women to take up the fast-paced sport.
Roots of the sport took hold in the kingdom on October 23, 1983, and since then expat clubs have been battling on the courts for glory as part of the Bahrain Netball League (BNL).
It started with around 60 members and its first president was Ann Macgregor. Now, there are about 160 netballers on the island from different clubs with Khulood leading the fray in a bid to spread awareness about the game as well as make the league official.
“I am excited and privileged to be leading BNL into this new phase by getting even more people, including Bahrainis, involved in this sport,” said the 34-year-old Bahrain School administrative officer, who has been playing the game since the age of 12.
“I also feel proud to be a part of the initiative to put Bahrain Netball on the GCC map. The committee and I are working towards making this league an official federation. We have been participating in inter-gulf tournaments for many years and I would like to represent Bahrain internationally as well.”
For the uninitiated, netball is played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end and features two teams of seven players. The game was derived from early versions of basketball in England in the 1890s. Each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through the goal ring.
While Khulood has played different sports in her younger years, including basketball, it was netball that she fell in love with ultimately.
“I started playing netball in middle school at the age of 12, for the Sri Lankan Club,” she said. “I have played for all the prestigious clubs here on the island throughout my netball life including the Sri Lankan Club, the Dilmun Club, the Rugby Club and Top Shots. I am currently the club captain at the British Club and I play for the A Team as the goal shooter. It has been 22 years.”
BNL currently consists of four clubs - the British Club, the Dilmun Club, the Rugby Club and Top Shots - with players from different nationalities such as British, South Africans, Sri Lankans, Indians, Australians and Kiwis. Each club consists of at least two to four teams with junior netball geared for those aged seven to 14 and the senior league open to those aged 16 and above.
At the moment, a mixed summer netball league is held every Saturday at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club. The official league will start in September, but most clubs will be hosting trials and introduction to netball in August. They train every Sunday night and the league matches are held every Tuesday evening.
Khulood recommends people to join the Bahrain Netball community and welcomes anyone interested to come down for a trial.
“There are many benefits to netball,” she explained. “It is a fun sport to play. Physically, it builds up muscle strength and stamina, improves flexibility and upper body strength by working key arm muscles and it also develops depth perception and increases reaction time.
“Mentally, it is a great way to make new friends and encourage teamwork. Especially being in a team of nine to 10 people, you have to work together and that is when those teamwork skills become useful throughout life anyway.”
Those interested can email Khulood on
[email protected] or follow @netball_bahrain on Instagram.