Netball is a labour of love for Jessie

Thirty teams from across New South Wales will converge on Newcastle this week for the 2013 Netball NSW Masters, proudly supported by the Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE).

The teams will contest a round-robin style competition involving three age groups, Over 35, Over 40 and Over 45, with a winner from each age division announced following the completion of the two-day competition.

The hosts of this year’s Masters are Newcastle Netball Association and an army of volunteers from across the Hunter Region will assist in delivering this much anticipated event.

One such volunteer is Jessie Cox from the Maryland/Wallsend Netball Association who was recently featured in the Newcastle Herald for her years of service to the sport.

The 77-year-old Wallsend resident first became involved with her local Netball Association when her grand-daughters began playing the sport.

‘‘That’s what started me off,’’ she told Anita Beaumont from the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘My daughter became a coach and I was assisting her, and then I became a coach. I coached the little ones aged from eight to nine years, and then I became an umpires’ convener and a coaches’ convener.

‘‘I do my best. And I just love helping the girls.’’

Nominated as a Hunter Hero by her local MP, Jessie is also on the fixtures committee for the Newcastle Netball Association.

‘‘That’s where we organise all the different umpires to go on the different games and things like that,’’ she said.

‘‘I also assist in Newcastle every Saturday with the office work and the umpires’ office. And I travel with all the state-aged girls when they go away to play in Sydney, and those kinds of things.

‘‘But I’m not the only one.”

‘‘I’m one of the food ladies that feed the girls when they go away. Me and another lady – there’s always two of us on the food, and we keep the food up to them all day.’’

Her grand-daughters have long left the sport.

In fact, some of Jessie’s great grandchildren have also come and gone from netball, but Jessie has continued on.

‘‘With the netball, it’s the girls who keep me coming back, because they are so beautiful and appreciate everything you do,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s not a Saturday I don’t go in there and have a dozen or so girls running up and saying ‘Hello Jessie’ and giving me a hug.

‘‘It’s really lovely.”

‘‘When you help somebody, and you know you’ve helped them, it gives you a lot of satisfaction in yourself.’’

The netball community has become like a second family.

‘‘That’s what I think netball, and all sports are about – becoming an extended family,’’ she said.

Volunteering for the local netball associations has almost become a full-time job for Jessie.

The netball season begins in March and goes until September, but then there are the twilight competitions, school days and round robin competitions in between.

This weekend Jessie will be helping with the NSW Masters netball competition at the Newcastle courts on Union Street.

‘‘I think it’s only December that we get any time off,’’ she laughed.

‘‘But I love it,” concluded Jessie.

Netball NSW would like to extend our thanks to the Committee at the Newcastle Netball Association and their volunteers for hosting this year’s Netball NSW Masters . We would also like to thank the thousands of volunteers throughout NSW who contribute so much to our great Sport every year.

* Photo taken by Phil Hearne, Newcastle Herald