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My Lockdown Life - by Debbie Hallas

Lockdown for me certainly hasn’t been boring! It has probably been one of the most challenging years of my life. Normally, my work schedule follows an annual pattern around the netball season and we look forward to the releases of new ranges - particularly new netball trainers or Nike kit. However, the pandemic has brought lots of challenges ensuring that no day is the same and we have had to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, continuously adapting like never before to different market demands. In lockdown one, everyone wanted netball posts, balls and Crazy Catch for their gardens as we all basked in the sunshine. We sold out of everything we had or could get our hands on. It was crazily busy but once stock ran out and the demand died down it was quiet and I had more free time on my hands. I wanted to get outside to exercise - I struggle to do a lot of running due to bad netball knees (a problem many of you will probably be familiar with!) so thought I’d give cycling a go. My cousin had been doing a bit and came to stay for a few days (when we were allowed) and we thought we’d go all out and try what turned out to be a 26km ride around the Peak District. I loved it and this started a theme of a cycling trip every weekend. I cajoled my friend and colleague Kerry Almond to join me and we also roped in my fellow coach from Oldham Netball Club, Suzy Ashworth. We tend to stick to the off road routes, usually along some part of the Rochdale or Ashton canals, where we also ‘stumble’ across a local pub for a healthy lunch. Ah those were the days, when pubs were open! During August we were lucky enough to get the go ahead for netball to return which was just the best news for every aspect of my life - from here at Netball UK, to my other roles as managing director of Manchester Thunder and coach at Oldham Netball Club, and of course a netball player – albeit social netball these days. I guess I couldn’t be more involved in netball if I tried – good job I love it! Adult netball unfortunately didn’t last long - certainly not indoor netball, which impacted all the levels I’m involved in. Luckily junior netball was still allowed to go ahead - it's a great outlet for all the youngsters not just for physical activity but for their mental and social wellbeing. As you will see if you follow me on my social channels, I really got into Cross Fit a couple of years ago and was ecstatic to get back to the gym. It benefits me physically and mentally and it’s really challenging taking me out of my comfort zone. Believe it or not I had never in my life done a handstand until joining! There’s a great community at the gym and also great competitive spirit which I thrive in. The benefits of all round strength cross over so well to netball and I felt better on the court than I have done for a long time. Lockdown two hit with a bang but, with a time limit to it, it was easy to see light at the end of the tunnel. But I have to say the current lockdown three has probably hit me the hardest personally. It’s so cold and dark in January that it is challenging in the best of years - and this has not been the best of years. In the winter, it’s not as easy to get outside, particularly on a bike with the snow and icy conditions. However, with the vaccination programmes being rolled out quickly in the UK hopefully it won’t be too long now and we’ve all got to hang on in there. The massive news for netball is that the Vitality Netball Superleague is back with a vengeance with EVERY SINGLE GAME LIVE on a Sky Sports platform. In my role at Manchester Thunder, it has been a gruelling year as we endeavoured to bring elite netball back. I’ve really enjoyed getting out and about at our pre-season friendlies and even enjoyed some live commentary alongside Gary Neville who popped in to watch. It has taken an immense amount of work and adaptability to make this happen and I have to give a shout out to England Netball who have done an amazing job with the product they have put together. A lot of hard work has gone into it and I can’t wait for everyone to see it starting this Friday. We will have live netball four days a week – what more can you ask for? Elite netball has an important role in the coming weeks. Our league will get more visibility than ever before and put us on a platform to ensure our future is bright. I also hope it is the precursor to all of us being back on court soon. Let's keep everything crossed. Stay safe, take care and - together - we'll get through it. With best wishes Debbie Hallas Managing Director, Netball UK

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