It's fair to say that netball has changed a lot in Shellharbour over the past five decades.
Shellharbour's netball club was formed in 1973 when a group of mums wanted their children to be able the sport together.
The club was run under a different name - initially the Shellharbour Workers - and players took to grass courts for matches each week.
The club would later become the Shellharbour Netball Club, and the courts' surface changed from grass to bitumen, to now the first-class facilities that you see at Berkeley today. Shellharbour's training base has also changed over the decades, with members going from Andrew Park at Mount Warrigal to the Croom Road Sporting Complex.
Then there's the club uniforms that have undergone a major shake-up. Members in the early days donned long dresses and socks up to their knees, which is a stark contrast to the modern look that netballers wear in 2023.
These will be some of the memories that club members - both past and present - will reflect on when they join together this Saturday night at Warilla Sports and Recreation Club to celebrate Shellharbour Netball Club's 50th anniversary.
"We actually turned 50 back in February, but we didn't want to have our celebrations before the season started," club president Chantel Ward told the Mercury.
"We wanted to really showcase all of the achievements that we've made over the 50 years, so we thought May would be a nice time to all get together."
Perhaps the biggest change that the Shellharbour Netball Club has undertaken in the past five decades is its membership growth.
Like most grassroots organisations, the club was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have come through that difficult period to be one of the biggest clubs in the Illawarra District Netball Association.
"COVID did strip us for a bit, and we're now competing with a lot of other stronger female sports like women's AFL, which has taken off in the region," Ward said.
"But people understand what our club is like in terms of loyalty. They've been with us for a while, and they know that we're a very family unit. And it's just not that we have lots of generations of family associated with the club, but that we also consider all of our members as family. We pride ourselves on that bond that we try to build, and I think that's what makes people want to come back every year.
"We have around 200 members now, even though COVID did take its toll. Even this year, we've got girls who are struggling with it and can't come to play. But we're hoping with less restrictions and that sort of thing, we'll continue to grow back up.
"And who knows what the future holds for our club because there's talk of having men's competitions coming in, so we could have men's playing members. And there's also talk of having walking netball as a social competition, which is something that could become part of the Saturday schedule."
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