Betty’s dynamo is fully charged into her 80s
There’s life after 80 for Betty Steffensen QSM. Betty is patron of Netball Manawatu and has been intimately involved with the sport for 70 years. Ever since she picked up the round ball as a youngster, she knew there was something special about the game. Netball took Betty to the heights of national representation when, as a member of the Silver Ferns, she toured Australia in 1960 as vice-captain and then, on her retirement, pursued an illustrious career at a local and national level as umpire, coach, manager and administrator. Following 21 years as president of Manawatu Netball, Betty was appointed patron this year. However, for her, it’s not an honorary title she’ll wear on her lapel. Betty is passionate about the game and wants to continue playing a significant mentoring role. For her developing the players of the future is extremely important and the opportunity to compete against regional teams is vital if they’re to remain in the sport and fulfil their talent. The Steffensen Tournament has been established for this very reason. Now, in its 16th year, the tournament will be held at Vautier Park on June 12 and involve over 1000 players, coaches, family and friends. Players from five age groups from the southern half of the North Island will descend on Vautier Park for competition, tutoring and coaching and, most of all, sharing their love of the game. Betty sees the tournament, named after her, as giving school students the chance to utilise skills which will take them to the top and realise their full potential. ‘‘This tournament is an important feeder to see the growth in these young people,’’ she comments. For Betty netball is more than a game. She loves it because it provides skill, speed, grace and fellowship. ‘‘People learn life skills by being part of a team, far more than participating in an individual sport. I know so many who’ve grown and matured in life as a result of playing netball.’’ After national honours, Betty’s passion is now focused on Netball Manawatu and her desire for it to be the most successful centre in ‘‘giving young people a pathway to realising their potential.’’ Betty Steffensen QSM envisions a time when Vautier Park will have a number of covered courts and supports the heritage work that acting general manager Barbara Broederlow has achieved in researching the history of Netball Manawatu as it approaches its 90th anniversary in 2018. ‘‘Nothing happens without hard work, dedication and total effort,’’ she says. But above all she gets very emotional in seeing the courts covered by young people and seniors playing her beautiful game for the love of it.