Melanie Bowler

Writer and mother of three

My name is Mel Bowler, I'm 42 years old and have 3 boys, aged 11, 3 and 18 months. I have always played sport right from a really early age, my mum was really sporty and played netball to county level so it was just a natural thing for me to get into. My mum said that at primary school I excelled that much at sport that they made me compete on sports day with the older classes so that other students my age would have a chance to win! I would do anything when I was younger, I just wanted to do sports, I went to a running club, I swam for the local team, I cycled, I danced, played tennis, I skied and I played a lot of netball. My mum had always dreamed of becoming a PE teacher but never had the opportunity so I guess it made it extra special for her that I went on to become a PE teacher, I just couldn't imagine doing anything else, it allowed me to do sport all day long, it was perfect! As I got older I continued with my sport but Netball was always the one I took most seriously and did the most. When I went to University I got onto the Uni 1st team and also got onto one of the top Sheffield league teams, so I was playing4/5 times a week. Through this I got scouted and asked to go for trials for County for the South Yorkshire squad, and after a gruelling trials period got selected. So at this point I was then playing 5/6 times a week, and loving it!!
When I hit the age of 30 I got pregnant with my first child and decided I wanted to devote my time to him, and so I gave up the netball as I didn't want to commit to all the away fixtures. I really missed it but I guess life just got in the way and before I knew it 7/8 years had passed. I then had an accident in a gym training session and ended up with 3 slipped discs, and one which was hitting a nerve which gave me sciatica. This along with having 2 more boys meant I never really got back into netball, so when I reached my 40's I really started to want to do it again, for me! So I set up my own netball club, set up a facebook page and within a few weeks had over 20 ladies playing every week, it was amazing to play again, however after only a few months, I landed funny and my back went again and I ended up in A&E. So yet again I had to give netball up, it just wasn't worth the risk of my back going again. Anyway I spent the following couple of years, doing physio, avoiding impact exercise and strengthening my back and core and after a long battle with myself I decided one more attempt to get back into it was worth it. so a few months ago I joined a high Manchester division netball club and have been playing weekly ever since, I am slowly getting my netball fitness and skill level back and pushing myself and my back a little more with each session or match. I am loving being part of a team again, its giving me a real adrenalin rush that I haven't felt for so long, its made me realise just how much I missed it, and how even though I kept getting these knock backs and disappointments all the determination, and pain was worth it in the end. Now I may get to play for 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years before my back goes again, sadly there are no guarantees that it wont because it is still a weak area but I know more now how to manage it, how to read the signs so that I can stop and try and treat it quicker and how to look after it the best I can, and I just see every week that I get to play as a bonus!

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