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‘First love’ eases pain for Richardson

Dominique Richardson is determined to make the most of her second chance as she returns to her “first love” netball after a career-ending football injury.

Richardson will captain Bermuda at the Netball Europe Invitational in Aberdeen, Scotland, which starts today, having spent the past few months training with her team-mates under new coach Ilze Gideons.

For Richardson, leading her country at the Invitational — where Bermuda play fellow “developing nations” Ireland, Gibraltar and Israel — holds even greater significance.

The 24-year-old was to be appointed as Bermuda women's football captain before being forced to quit the game because of a succession of knee injuries.

“This feels like a second chance for me,” Richardson said.

“It took me a while to get over [retiring from football] and it was some time before I started playing netball again because I didn't think I could.

“It was a tough pill to swallow because I loved to play football. It's left a sore spot in my heart.”

Although the three surgeries she underwent sufficiently healed her knee to continue playing netball, Richardson admits her injury hell left her with some mental scars.

“With football it was a mental thing because all of the surgeries were football related,” said Richardson, who attended Barry University in Miami on a football scholarship before earning a Master's degree from Nottingham Trent University.

“I've never had a serious injury through netball and I think my body is better equipped to play the game. I still have aches and pains every time I train but mentally I've accepted that and do my own extra stuff like ice baths after each session.

“I actually started playing netball first at primary school and didn't pick up football until I was 13. I had more opportunities through football, playing at university in both the US and the UK, but netball has always been my first love.”

Bermuda will begin the process of trying to earn a world ranking in Aberdeen as part of an ambitious attempt to qualify for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, next year. Qualifying will be a tall order as Bermuda must be ranked among the top 14 countries in the world by July and to have played at least eight international matches.

The Bermuda Netball Association received a £30,000 grant from the Commonwealth Games Federation Developmental Programme, facilitated through the Bermuda Olympic Association, in January and have hired Gideons as a part-time coach until June.

Gideons, a former semi-professional in South Africa, has made a huge impact, Richardson said, especially in fostering camaraderie and dressing room spirit.

“[Gideons] has had a strong impact and knows her netball very well,” Richardson added. “She's implemented a few new concepts and we've adapted pretty well to it. It's been great to have her here as she's a fresh face and brings a fresh perspective.”

Since suffering a clean-sweep in a three-match series to Canada four years ago, Bermuda's netball programme has been largely dormant although the BNA hopes to remedy that.

“Hopefully this is the start of a sustained national programme,” said Richardson, who played in those matches against Canada at Whitney Institute.

Bermuda face Israel in their opening game tomorrow in what will be the first of two meetings between the two countries.

They were awarded an extra game against Israel as compensation after Switzerland withdrew.

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Published May 11, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 10, 2017 at 10:44 pm)

‘First love’ eases pain for Richardson

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