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Saracens Mavericks’ Britney Clarke discusses body image in elite netball | Netball News


Britney Clarke speaks openly for the first time about her experiences with body image and elite sport (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

“Just be patient and be confident in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and eventually you’ll be fine… people will eventually ignore the fact that you’re a bigger girl.”

These are the words 21-year-old Britney Clarke would say to her teenage daughter, who wondered whether or not she should stay in the sport she loves, netball.

The alternative was for Clarke to listen to the insults she had been told about her physique and conclude that she just wasn’t the “right fit” for netball.

Fortunately, Clarke didn’t do this. Instead, she continued to pursue higher honors and this season is playing her first on the Saracens Mavericks Vitality Netball Superleague team.

“At the end of the day, it’s a game of netball. I think if I’m doing a job it shouldn’t matter,” she says.

Clarke chose to speak to Sky Sports’ Claire Thomas about their experiences in order to inspire others. She wants those who are younger than her (and maybe even older than her) to feel good about themselves.

The shooter stars in his first Superleague season for Saracens Mavericks (Image credit - Morgan Harlow)

The shooter stars in his first Superleague season for Saracens Mavericks (Image credit – Morgan Harlow)

“I just want people to know that everything is fine… that’s what I would like people to think. It’s good to be taller,” she said.

“As long as you work hard, do the right thing, and perform well, no matter your size.”

Clarke’s elite career is still in its infancy, but she remembers when she realized that netball could be “her thing.” Not too long ago, at the Under-17 level, she started recording positive conversations about what she could potentially accomplish in the sport.

However, alongside this positivity came negative experiences and stinging comments.

“I’m a pretty bubbly person, if someone comes to me directly with something, I don’t really care. But, the turning point, when I really noticed that there was a difference between what people prefer and what I brought was when I went to the trials.

Britney Clarke has risen to Superleague level this season (Image credit - Morgan Harlow)

Britney Clarke has risen to Superleague level this season (Image credit – Morgan Harlow)

“You go for something like the trials in England, and I did, and you can see a definite difference… I was the only one that was bigger. You think then, well maybe I’m at wrong place.

“One of my previous NPL-level franchises said more or less bluntly that I just wasn’t what they needed and just not what they were looking for.

“It’s hard because you don’t want to put words in people’s mouths, but at the same time, there’s no other way to take it. It was a situation where they were saying, you have just need to do it; get slimmer and if you get fitter and more agile then we can consider you. “

The shooter offers a high level of accuracy when called out by Kat Ratnapala (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

The shooter offers a high level of accuracy when called out by Kat Ratnapala (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Lately, there have been too many reminders of how words can seriously hurt young women and young men. The recent social media outage arose out of an ambition to drive change online and in Clarke’s case those words didn’t reach her through a device or screen.

“It would be very easy for me, in this environment, to be very critical of myself and take drastic steps to be different and to fit the mold that netball has created in a way.”

She was brave enough not to let the criticism she received lead her down this path, but once she showed that level of courage, she had to muster more strength to tackle one. another area… kit.

Athletes from all sports talk about the importance of their equipment and regularly discuss how it helps them in all kinds of ways.

In the case of swimming or cycling, aerodynamic aspects are essential. Serena Williams used a kit to safely return to court after childbirth, and famously, Cathy Freeman worked to develop the most iconic running suit of all time, ahead of her 400m run at the 2000 Olympics. in Sydney.

For Freeman, the suit was mapped around his physique and it contained bespoke materials to make all the performance gains possible. Fast forward 21 years and Clarke has never been in a position where she was able to make it to a netball court in something almost comfortable, let alone tailored.

“In all the franchises I’ve been to, I’ve never really had a dress that suited me,” she said.

“Dresses aren’t made for taller girls. So at the start of this season when it happened again it wasn’t too much of a big deal because I’m used to it and I’ve had it before. .

Saracens Mavericks' Britney Clarke discusses body image in elite netball | Netball News

When you don’t have it [a dress that fits], you feel like you are not a full part of the team, even though you are on paper and in the environment. Is it a matter of respect, don’t I really belong to me?

Britney Clarke (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

“Then I looked at him [the matches] back and I hadn’t realized what it looked like, not bad, but how good it looked if it made sense. I was then consciously uncomfortable.

“I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and I didn’t. I just said it was good, it’s just a dress and I’m playing netball.

“I didn’t realize that a lot of people paid attention to it before the first or second game,” she continued. “Then on Twitter people were saying why can’t we buy Brit a dress?

“It’s the 21st century here, they were talking about inclusiveness in sport and I felt good about myself and I’m the one raising this conversation.”

Britney Clarke hopes others will see and read her story and be inspired to continue their careers (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

Britney Clarke hopes others will see and read her story and be inspired to continue their careers (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Raising awareness and initiating conversations is something Clarke wants to do by talking about her own experiences. For the 21-year-old, if just one person is inspired to read this or see her play Superleague netball live Air sports, so that’s something incredibly positive.

“Girls who are like me, who want to play netball at a high level but are constantly told they are the wrong size, I’m happy to be the person and the reason they say they can do it, have it.

The shooter is passionate about the game and is developing her own career in the sport (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

The shooter is passionate about the game and is developing her own career in the sport (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

“I mean it’s okay – having bigger players in netball isn’t going to hurt the sport or hurt where people want to play the sport.

“Netball is on the rise and it’s not going to stop or slow it down at all, on the contrary, it will help build the platform that netball is trying to achieve.

“I just want people to know that everything is fine… that’s what I wish people would think. It’s good to be bigger, as long as you work hard, you do what you need to do and you perform well, no matter your size. “

Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues Monday night with the 18th round and two back-to-back games starting at 5 p.m., live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.





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