October 21, 2020, 10:27

Jean Hornsby: England Netball’s humble history-maker

Jean Hornsby: England Netball’s humble history-maker

Hornsby not only excelled at the trials but also during her England U21 career, where she spent two of her four years as captain. As a result, she progressed again and was selected for what would be an extremely memorable senior tour in 1978.

“The trip to Trinidad was huge for me because I was young, inexperienced and amongst senior players,” she said.

“I was going to the other side of the world as I saw it, and I stood out because I was the only black player in the team. There was excitement in Trinidad that I was coming, which was amazing.

“It was a bit awe-inspiring at times because the focus was on me quite a lot a lot of the time.

“We’d go to games and the crowd would shout, ‘We want Jean… we want Jean’. I didn’t play in any of the games but the experience of being there [was superb].

“I had never seen anything like it, because you went to matches in England and it was all very sedate and polite. It wasn’t really crowded.

“Out there, there were men, women and children watching. Netball was such a big thing in their culture, and it was amazing actually.”

1:03 Hornsby says she didn’t realise the significance of becoming netball’s first black player when she was playing as she reflects on her career

As a player, Hornsby was always focused on her performances on court and upon gaining her first cap, had no idea that she was creating new history in the sport, as the team’s first black player.

“At the time, I wasn’t aware that I was the first black player. Although I didn’t ever see anybody of my age or older to look up to. I was just a player, I just wanted to get on there, do my best and excel.

“I was just me,” she said. “But someone said to me once at the trials, that it was okay for me because I could stand out amongst everybody else. I replied to them that it was great, wasn’t it!

“I hadn’t really ever thought about my colour helping me get through, if that’s what that person was saying. It’s the one time where I did stand out, not on purpose that was just what happened.

It is a mark of Hornsby’s character that she did not take offence to this individual’s comment.

“I was the exception but now it’s the norm, which is perfect and as it should be,” she said about the mix of players in today’s squads.

0:31 Hornsby believes the netball community protected her from racism during her career

In contrast to the long careers that athletes now enjoy, shown by the likes of Serena Guthrie and Jade Clarke, Hornsby ended her playing career at 22 years old.

It was at that point when she was forced to make a choice and her professional career had to take priority.

Sourse: skysports.com

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