THE Netball World Cup will shine a spotlight on the sport when the international competition begins in Liverpool on Friday.

But for playwright Gail Young, netball has been a big part of her family life since she was young.

Her sister Yvonne, who lives in Winwick, is a netball coach and her other sister Lesley was a PE teacher who taught netball at Orford Secondary School for 10 years.

Gail also has her own connection to netball as she played goal defence in various school teams until she was 15.

That was what led Gail to write Bouncing Back which has returned to the stage in time for the World Cup. The play is the result of her shadowing the Golborne Back 2 Netball Initiative for around six months. She would attend their sessions, social events and trips to see Manchester Thunder and as Gail began to feel like part of the team the camaraderie and spirit of the sport began to transform into a drama.

Gail, whose late parents Jean and Stan lived in Appleton, said: “Yvonne played for the north west of England and Lesley used to play a lot of netball as well so we’re a bit of a netballing family.

“Then when Yvonne started working with a lot of people who were returning to netball I asked her if she would approach the Golborne Back 2 Netball Initiative.

“They were happy for me to go along and really act as a fly on the wall and observe a lot of training sessions and go to social events and at the end of it I wrote a play.

“I can’t praise the Golborne Back 2 Netball Initiative people enough because they were really welcoming and it was a joy to do my research with them.

“I didn’t interview them as such. I just sat and watched them and observed and wrote loads of stuff down. They were happy for me to eavesdrop and make some drama out of it. They couldn’t have been kinder to me and then at the end loads of them came to watch it which was great.”

Gail wrote Bouncing Back, her third published play, in 2015 and then it premiered at The Forum in Chester in June 2016.

The 64-year-old added: “I can remember one night all the people on the front row were wearing netball bibs so it was like that. It was full of netballers.

“They responded to it really positively. They felt it was an accurate reflection of women coming back into sport so it was great to see I was doing the right thing.”

Fans included England Netball Coach Tracey Neville who described it on social media as one of the best things she had seen.

Gail said: “I was quite shocked. It was really nice for her to tweet about the play after it premiered. She was absolutely made up with it.”

The show recently enjoyed a revival at Storyhouse in Chester and it is currently at The Royal Court to coincide with the Netball World Cup.

Gail added: “I always knew I would bring it back again when the World Cup was coming to Liverpool. I’m hoping that some of the squad see this in Liverpool.

Winsford Guardian:

Members of Golborne Back 2 Netball Initiative with a copy of Bouncing Back

“Somebody said to me how can you put netball on the stage? I said: ‘Come and see the play and you’ll find out’.

“But you can do it and I’m really proud of the cast because we’ve done a lot of work on the physical side of the play and everyone responded really well to that.

“And I know when we staged it in Chester at the end of May people loved those match sequences and how they were presented.

“Sports are all about bonding and forging relationships with people so all of that comes out.”

Gail had a career in human resources and training before she started writing plays when she was 50. She thought amateur dramatics would be the closest she would get to stage work until she was inspired to write Cheshire Cats.

It is about women doing a walk in London to raise money for a breast cancer charity and it was based on the MoonWalk event and her mum’s own battle with the disease.

Gail said: “The charity was launching their Edinburgh MoonWalk the following year and they got in touch with me and said why don’t you bring that play to the Edinburgh Fringe? So we did and it was a sell-out. It went down a storm. That’s the moment when I thought I must be doing something right – I better carry on with this.

“I’ve always been good at creative writing but I never thought I could earn any money out of it.

“And then I just felt really strongly about Cheshire Cats and that subject matter because my mother had died of breast cancer and MoonWalk itself is an amazing event. So that gave me the impetus to give it a go.

“It’s very funny and very sad – those two things together have great dramatic potential.”

Gail also wrote Bothered and Bewildered about Alzheimer’s disease which was partly her way of coming to terms with the impact dementia had on her father-in-law and friend’s mum.

She added: “All my plays are comedy dramas. They’re quite black comedy dramas in a way because they’re about serious subjects written in a funny way.

“The British are very good about making jokes about very dark subjects. I think we’re a nation like that. You’ve only got to look at people going to a wake at a funeral – they’re cracking jokes all over the place. It’s just life and how we cope with things.”