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Summer Artman: “Everyone has a choice to make the world a better place, it’s whether you choose to or not”

Summer Artman of Team Bath during the Vitality Super League match between Team Bath and Celtic Dragons at Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 13th January 2021.

As we have seen over the last 12 months through the COVID-19 pandemic, sport has always played an integral role in the mental and physical wellbeing of its participants.

Netball, as a team sport, can often provide a release for players for all ages across the country and has proven to be a strong, supportive community in these difficult times.

This can be seen at all levels from grassroots to those who play at the top level in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL).

One of the teams who exemplify this more than any other are Team Bath Netball who, with the likes of goal keeper Summer Artman, maintain a winning mentality while still being there for one another at all times.

“I think we all support each other on the court and I think it goes back to knowing your teammates off the court and knowing what they might need on the court for you to support them adequately. I love to encourage and I do it really well whether I’m on the bench or I’m on court.

“There will be a time when you can use every aspect of yourself. My soft and smiley nature might be great when I’m encouraging a teammate but when I’m defending, I’m absolutely fierce and I’m on it. It’s not about denying any part of yourself, it’s knowing why each part of you is valuable.

“Nelson Mandela said ‘Sport has the power to bring people together’. Once you’re playing sport together, you’re all working towards a common goal and everything else is embraced. You use whatever you bring outside and you use that to help you towards a common goal.”

Artman has been a member of the Team Bath and England set-ups for a number of years now, representing both club and country on a number of occasions since she started her netball career.

The goal keeper is now aiming to win her first league title with her club this season and has worked tirelessly since she started playing netball at school to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Despite her achievements and the required dedication to reach this level, Artman still makes time to use her sporting experience to make a positive in the world. Recently, she volunteered working with refugees in Levos, Greece.

“It was an amazing experience. It was also very eye-opening to the state that a lot of people find themselves in. They’re fleeing from war and fleeing from torture and persecution and they’re just trying to find safety.

“I went out there wanting just to treat people as people and as humans and, through my sporting background, I was able to do that with Yoga and Sport for Refugees. I’ve still got great connections now from when I went out there but thousands of people are in really destitute situations.

“We would teach people how to swim and, if you think about the journey that some of these people have come from, travelling on a boat, they’ve seen people die at sea trying to get to safety. So, teaching them how to swim was something massive to overcome but through sport they were able to overcome that.

“By the end of the six weeks they’re swimming and enjoying the water. So, all of a sudden, there’s a different connection that has been made with them and the water. The water’s not something  to be scared of or something that is dangerous anymore, it’s something that is peaceful and that’s because of the different connections that have been made through the sport.”

Off the netball court, mental health also plays a huge part in Artman’s current role where she works in a school with children that have various mental health difficulties.

Using her degree is Psychology and Msc in Cultural and Global Mental health, the 23-year-old is able to make a positive impact on those around her away from sport.

“I love my role, working with children that have various mental health difficulties and complex needs, such as autism, clinical depression/anxiety, ADHD and various attachments disorders. I’m able to speak life into and encourage the children, encouraging them to believe they can achieve great things despite any labels they may have or barriers they face.

“I think looking after your mental health is so important. When your mind is right and you’re looking after yourself, every action flows from it and  so it’s important to know what you bring to a team, to this world, to your friendship group.

“It allows you to understand your value and allows you to contribute something that is unique, that only you can contribute. Once you know what you bring, you’re able to encourage others and you’re able to use that to affect some sort of change. It starts with knowing who you are, what you bring.”

With her success on the court and ability to make positive changes off it, Artman is a role model for young netballers coming up through pathways.

On International Women’s Day, Artman believes it’s important for young girls to have those role models growing up.

“Rosa Parks says that ‘It’s up to everyone to be a role model’. I think that everyone’s got an onus to be their best self and to be the change that they want to see. You don’t have to be an influencer, you don’t have to be someone of power, change can be made wherever you are.”

“That ties in with the message of ‘Choose to Challenge’ of this year’s International Women’s Day that everyone has a choice to make, everyone has a choice to challenge the status quo to make this world better, so you can either choose to or not.

“When women are celebrated for the work that they do, the goodness that they’ve done is already there. It just adds to that and allows people to see that it’s something positive, something that other people are recognising that it’s making a difference. It encourages the next generation to do the same and to do even more.”

International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2021 with the campaign theme of #ChooseToChallenge. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

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