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.

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