READER REPORT:

'Teasing, heightism drove me out of netball'

CHANTAL GALLOWAY
Last updated 14:10 24/06/2016
Netball
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

"I was a skilled young netball player, but my shortness meant I was teased and overlooked. It drove me out of the sport and still affects me years later."

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How did childhood sport shape you?

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I played netball from the age of 5 until I was 15 and I've always been vertically challenged.

This was not a problem while I was at primary school, as I always made the top team; in standards 2 and 3 (now years 4 and 5) I was playing in the "senior" team when my age meant I should've been in the junior team.

That all changed when I started intermediate school as my height, or lack thereof, was noticed. I was teased mercilessly because of it and this has affected me until this day.

I was never selected for the top or even the middle teams, rather I was always selected for the team or teams that were the lowest in our grade.

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I remember one of my coaches, who was even a selector and went on to play for the Southern Steel, told me that my height meant I was put in the lesser teams, whereas if I was taller I would've been in one of the top teams. So, it was official; my height counted against me. I had the skills and speed, but just not the height.

I am now 32 and that comment has stayed with me throughout all these years. It ultimately led to me not playing netball anymore as it really hurt my confidence and therefore my love of the sport.

From there on I noticed my statue even more and became more aware of how the world viewed me. I tried to modify my personally and self to guard against the teasing by adopting a "love me as I am or leave me alone" attitude. While this has worked outwardly, inwardly I'm still the girl who feels that there are a lot of things I can't and never will be able to do because of my height.

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