With names like Skittles, Fantails, and Kool Fruits, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in a lolly shop rather than on a netball court.
These are some of the teams that make up the SCU Netball Club whose players, along with hundreds of other players, have returned to the courts in Lismore after the floods.
Revae Garland from SCU Netball Club said the return to competition offers much needed exercise and social connection after a few years impacted by COVID-19 and flooding, offering both kids and adults a bit of time out.
"Sport is such a great emotional outlet. Whether you're happy, whether you're having fun, or whether you're frustrated, it's just a really good outlet," she said.
Five months ago, the Marie Mackney Netball courts on Ballina St were well under water, and while the clubhouse is still being repaired, netballers are back on the courts.
They have been cleared of mud and patched where necessary, but a couple are not in use due to instability, temporary toilets are in place, and Lismore & District Netball runs a barbecue and cash canteen to cater for players until the clubhouse is repaired.
"They are doing what they can," Garland said. "It is definitely a time to be flexible."
Despite a delayed start to competition players will still get in a full season of games ahead of finals.
"The association had to get everything cleared by council, so the season did start a little bit later," Garland said.
Some teams are playing two games a weekend to fit the 15 games in, but players don't seem to mind, with plenty of big smiles on game day.
Given the tough few years facing businesses in the region, the club was grateful to still have sponsorship from SCU, Rugendyke and Bashworth Contracting, Car-Align Auto Repairs, North Coast Uniforms, Farm Moto, Simes Bros Coaches, Northern Rivers Pinball, and the Italo Australia Club.
Sponsorship funds uniforms, equipment, the education and development of umpires and coaches, and entry fees to carnivals.
Garland said that allowed the club to focus on social events that were just for fun rather than held to raise money, taking the financial burden off parents as well as providing much needed social interaction.
"We have eight awesome sponsors. It is such a boost and so important. Having great sponsors takes the financial burden off so we don't have to fundraise, we can have more social events. So that takes pressure off families."
The new club committee is building on its positive club culture within the community by holding trivia nights, family fun days - such as barefoot bowls, mystery bus tours, training days and end-of-year presentation days.
"We like to provide opportunities both on and off the courts for players and families to come together and form friendships. This is especially important after the past three years with COVID and natural disasters," Garland said.
The committee's main focus is positive sportsmanship.
"As a club, we encourage positive sportsmanship above everything. This type of positive attitude benefits players - it reflects in and benefits their day to day lives," Garland said.
She also praised the umpires who front up each weekend.
"We have some of the best umpires in the area. They are mentoring our younger umpires on weekends and running umpire sessions throughout the season."
The club has 120 members and is always on the look out for new members.
"We don't say no to anyone," Garland said. "And males are always welcome. Times are changing."
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