Netball coach shares passion for rare sport with youngsters

Kylie Flower is getting the opportunity to pass on her passion for a rare sport to young, up and coming athletes in Victoria.

Kylie Flower is getting the opportunity to pass on her passion for a rare sport to young, up and coming athletes in Victoria.

Flower plays netball, a sport that began for women in England in the 1890s that is similar to early versions of basketball. There are seven players on the court per team and each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through the post (which is a net without a backboard). Players are assigned specific positions, which restrict their movement to certain areas of the court.

Positions include centre, goal shooter, goal attack, goal defender, goal keeper, and wing attack and defence.

While it is a relatively new sport in Canada, Flower learned to play at a young age from her mother Sandra, who played in Australia, where it’s just as popular as basketball.

Sandra even started a netball team in Victoria.

“Part of me likes that it’s not well known. I love that it’s fast-paced and it’s a sport that’s made for women that women play as hard as men play sports,” Flower said. “The reason the sport is what it is, is because of the women behind it and that’s what I really love.”

Though she never played professionally on the provincial netball team, Flower did travel to the Lower Mainland to participate in tournaments over the years.

After taking a brief hiatus from the sport to focus on post-secondary education (she’s a woodwind player and couldn’t risk injuring her fingers during netball), Flower is returning to the game, this time as head coach of the Vancouver Island-Central Coast zone girls’ team at the B.C. Winter Games next month, alongside her mother, who will act as assistant coach.

The group of 10 girls will be travelling to Penticton to compete against other zones.

According to Flower, though the 13-year-old girls have only played together for the last three months, they have already become friends off the court, making it easier to play as a team.

“Because there’s only certain spots on the court where you’re able to go, you really need to be connecting with the people on your team,” she said.

“It’s very significant for me to take a group of girls that were the age that I was when I was so in love with the sport . . . the Winter Games is such an incredible experience to be a part of.”

The B.C. Winter Games take place Feb. 25 to 28 in Penticton. Other sports include archery, badminton, biathlon, curling, diving, figure skating, ringette and skiing cross-country.