For 75 years, Saturdays at the Shepparton Netball Association has been Valerie Barrass’ ritual.
Her lifelong love of netball began when she was 12 years, playing when the game was still referred to as ‘Women’s Basketball’ and the end of the quarter would be signalled with the use of a cow bell.
Nowadays, quarter breaks begin with the sound of a siren from a CD and followed by Val’s “30 second warning”.
After 50 years of playing, Val has held a number of positions at the association, including umpire, coach, committee member and now operates the control box.
2018 was a year of celebration for Val, beginning with the presentation of a life membership and distinction award at the association’s finals day. The ‘Val Barrass Control Box’ was unveiled when Shepparton hosted the Netball Victoria State Titles in September, a fitting tribute to their loved ‘Val’.
In October, Val was awarded Volunteer of the Year in Netball Victoria’s Community Awards, in which she received an additional prize for being voted fan favourite on Netball Victoria’s Facebook page – a worthy prize for the dedicated volunteer, who spends most of her Saturdays at the netball courts helping run the countless games played throughout the day.
While the days are long, Val says it’s a rewarding experience, being able to help the next generation of players enjoy the game that Val has loved for 75 years.
“On Saturdays I leave home at eight in the morning and get home at 6 in the evening. I only have about a 15 minute break during that time at around middayso it’s a big day and a lot of work.”
“I just love to think that all those girls on a Saturday I help to put out there on the court to play netball.”
“I still enjoy it and I just hope that I can do it for a few years longer.”
Find out more about Val and what she does for the Shepparton Netball Association.