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Gym knickers

A conversation during a meeting today took me back to one of my least favourite classes at school. PE. I’ve never been a particularly sporty person, and I reckon a lot of that harks back to the way we were forced to do sports at school, even if we hated them or were no good (or both).

I remember at primary school we had to do PE in our underwear if we forgot our PE kit! Surely that wouldn’t be allowed now?! At secondary school we had blue gym knickers that’d we’d wear underneath our netball skirts. I was so relieved when we were allowed to wear jogging bottoms (which we then had to wear out netball skirts over, so weird). You could tell when it was PE day as we’d rock up to the bus stop with our PE kits in River Island shopping bags. We were too cool to have a proper sports bag like the Head one I remember having when I was younger.

One of the cruellest things I recall was when teams were picked. Standing there alongside your classmates as one by one, the sporty kids and the popular kids would get chosen until you were one of the last (or the last!) ones standing waiting to be picked. The huge sigh of disappointment from the people on the team when they realised you’d be joining them.

Generally I was a pretty good pupil at school, I do recall my mum getting a call from one of my primary school teachers to talk about my behaviour when I reacted to being told to bowl overarm not underarm.

At secondary school I finally found a sport I enjoyed – rugby. Netball didn’t make sense to me as I struggled to stay still on the occasional times that I got the ball. Hockey was just dangerous, the sticks more often hitting other people’s shins more than the puck. Football was just plain boring.

Rugby however was right up my street. The game made sense to me. The fact it was a contact sport meant it was a great way to release all that teenage tension. My chosen position was either a lock or a prop so I’d be right in there, at the heart of the scrum. I wasn’t a natural runner or try scorer, but I don’t think I’ve ever run as fast as I did when I had a rugby ball in hand and I would charge towards the try line.

The downside in PE was that we were only allowed to play touch rugby as we were playing with the boys in our class and there was clearly a fear that we’d get hurt. I remember in year 9, when I was 13-14 years old, we were allowed to play proper rugby against the year 7(11-12 year old) boys. To this day I’ve felt sorry for those boys who found themselves on the receiving ene of a load of teenage girls who for once were allowed to properly let rip on the rugby pitch.

After leaving school and going to college at 16, sport went to the side as there were other interests in my life. Whilst I still enjoyed watching the rugby, playing it was not something I considered. That was until I moved to London aged 23 and I discovered a women’s rugby team that practiced at Mudchute in the Docklands. Not the most convenient location to get to / from Brixton, but for a while I got back into playing the sport, until I realised the commitment that was expected which meant every weekend I’d be playing or practicing. That wasn’t the life I wanted.

When I moved to my current flat in 2010, I was excited to realise there were tennis courts at the end of my road. Tennis was one of the few sports I used to enjoy in and out of school, even though I wasn’t as good at it as my friends Trisha and Linda who would always beat me.

In those 13.5 years I’ve not played once. So many things stop me from making it happen – not least the fact that the only tennis racket that has ever felt comfortable in my hands is the one I got rid of when I first moved to Camberwell in 2008. It’s nice to know it’s an option though if I ever do get the urge to whack a few balls around.

2 thoughts on “Gym knickers

  1. Lyndsey

    Well, at least you were allowed to weat a skirt over tje knickers! Whilst these were padt of our iniform to wear during field games, it was knickers only in the gym ….. and then fheu were the thick bottle green cotton ‘over knickers’ worn theoughout thecday over ‘knicker linings’ …. aka thinner white aertex knickers. 🙈🙈🙈. And yes ….. I was one of those left ignominiously on the side lines when teams were chosen, often left to practice running up and down the field cradling a ball in the lacrosse stick, whilst the rest enjoyed a game. No wonder I felt no affiliation to sport, and preferred the latin and maths lessons!

  2. Lindsay

    Oh yes, I remember the call from school! Poor young male teacher who was a very lovely, kind, good teacher but did not know quite what to say to you when you revolted!

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