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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 it’ll be okay… people will end up looking over 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 affronts told to her 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 seek higher honors and this season is playing her first role 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.

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

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

“I just want people to know it’s okay… that’s what I wish people would think. It’s okay to be taller, ”she says.

“As long as you work hard, do the right thing, and play, it doesn’t matter how tall you are.”

Clarke’s elite career is still in its early stages, but she recalls the moment she realized netball could be “her thing.” It wasn’t long ago, at the Under-17 level, and that’s when she started organizing the positive conversations about what she could potentially accomplish in sport.

However, alongside that positivity, there were negative experiences and stinging comments.

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

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

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 not what they were looking for.

“It’s hard because you don’t want to put the 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 just need to do it; get slim and if you get fitter and more agile then we can consider you. “

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

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 men. The recent social media blackout 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 in a different way and to fit the mold that netball has created in a certain way. 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 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 Olympics. of Sydney 2000.

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’s been able to hit a netball court in something almost comfortable, let alone custom made.

“In no franchise I’ve been in, have I ever really had a dress that suited me,” she said.

“Dresses are not made for girls who are taller. So at the start of this season when it happened again it wasn’t too bad 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 if you are on paper and you are in the environment. Is it a matter of respect, don’t I really belong?

Britney Clarke (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

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

“I didn’t want to do much with 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.”

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

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

Raising awareness and starting 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 on Sky 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 that they are not the right size, I’m happy to be the person and the reason they say ‘they can do it, because I have.

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

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

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

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

“I just want people to know it’s okay… that’s what I wish people would think. It’s okay to be taller, as long as you work hard, do what you need to do and perform regardless of your height. “

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

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