Mel’s a marvel at Chaos!

Mel receiving her Sport Pembrokeshire award from Mark Lester

There is no doubt that one of the fastest-growing sports clubs in Pembrokeshire can be found in netball as the Chaos club in Haverfordwest has grown from a ladies' team started by army wives in Brawdy and which now has three senior teams in the Pembrokeshire Adult Netball League - and at least two teams in each of the Pembrokeshire Junior League's under 11, 13 and 15 sections.

Early start in netball

Mel Marshalsey in relaxed modeSomeone who takes huge satisfaction from this amazing growth is Mel Marshalsey, who at one time was a sergeant herself in the army but whose husband Graeme came here to Brawdy with the 14th Signal Regiment in 1995 - and she decided it was the right time to rekindle her interest in netball which started when she was a nipper at Old Castle Primary School and then Brynteg Comprehensive, both in the Bridgend area.  
She played centre in those days and is still involved on court now, over 30 years later, but threatens that this could be her final season, although fortunately she intends continuing her yeoman work as an outstanding administrator, coach and umpire!

Deserved success at Sports Awards

All this effort and commitment is regarded by Mel as something from which she gets so much more out of than she puts in but it is good to report that everything she does for netball is clearly appreciated by others at the Chaos Club because she was nominated for the recent Sports’ Organiser of the Year with Sport Pembrokeshire and she fended off some very strong opposition to win the engraved glass trophy!
Mel has always enjoyed other sports and in her younger days played badminton at county level and whilst in the army; and was heavily involved in athletics as a very useful sprinter in both 100 and 200 metres.
“I really enjoyed the training and the competition,” Mel told us, “and whilst I was serving in Cyprus I represented The Army against our counterparts in the country from The RAF.”

Chaos begins in earnest

When the Marshalseys arrived in the county there was little sport for army wives so she helped found a team in the former Dyfed Ladies League, which initially was sponsored by Brawdy.
But the sponsorship ended after a while and the ladies decided to start again in a new team which they called 'Chaos' because they had been joined by a mother and daughter from Australia whose team back in Oz had that name!
They played against the likes of Aberystwyth, Newcastle Emlyn, Teifi, Tenby, Milford Haven and Pembroke, with the last two respectively having Lesley Ace and Alice Watts in charge: and both of them have been a terrific help to Mel and the rest of the Chaos Club.
Lesley Ace started the league initially as a social league but it has become more and more competitive with the standard of netball improving and more teams joining so in the last couple of seasons it has gone to the two-division structure.

Mel is heavily involved – on and off the court

The matches take place at The Dome, in Haverfordwest, on Wednesday evenings, and in the competitive league they have The Boomerangs (because they keep coming back!) and The Tigers; with The Stars playing in the development league on alternate weeks.
As well as playing for the club, Mel is the chairman and secretary of the adult league, with Maz MacDougall as treasurer, and Mel draws up the fixtures, collates the results and other details - and not content with that little lot also umpires and coaches.
She qualified as an official with the Welsh Netball Association by picking up her 'C' Award after a whole day of theory, where she was mentored by Alice Watts over several months, answered a theory paper and had to be assessed whilst umpiring a match. 
Mel also qualified as a UKCC Level One coach over three days in Llanelli where there was two days of practical stuff and the need to produce a work book where she had to plan and evaluate two coaching sessions, plus a third lesson to be used whilst an assessor is watching and making notes. Nerve-wracking stuff!

Delighted with growth of junior section

"I started out in coaching with Alison Turner and Rebecca Chamberlain - and in the following season we started up our first junior team at under 11 level, which was hugely supported and the start of a golden time for the club.
"We soon added under 13 and under 15 teams and some of those girls are now playing for our senior teams and we hope they will take up the reins as coaches when we step down. Indeed, we already have Abbie Rees and Harriet Carter helping out as part of their D of E and Welsh Baccalaureate; and we have organised coaching courses for these talented girls which the club is delighted to fund.
"We now have two under 15 teams called Chaos Clovers and Chaos Dragons, which are coached by Maz and I, under 13 teams named Chaos Storm and Chaos Lightning (coached by Linda Jones, Cindy Hansen-Smith and Rachel Long, plus Candy Rowland coaching the Chaos Wildfire and Chaos Rainbows at under 11 level.

Inevitable costs – but help has come from the Community Chest Fund

"All junior games are played on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm and the atmosphere is amazing to see so many juniors developing their skills.” – and Mel continues her off-court activity here too because she is vice chairman of the junior league to Alaric Churchill (St Davids).  
“The cost of running so many teams is heavy and requires lots of self-funding from an excellent committee," Mel told us, "and we have had terrific support from the Community Chest scheme run by Alan Jones at Sport Pembrokeshire, which has helped fund equipment and, more importantly in our view, supports the cost of starting up coaching initiatives."

And finally . . .

Her brief citation for the Sport Pembrokeshire Awards read,
“Mel is the founder of Chaos netball club, originally an army wives team but now the biggest club in Haverfordwest with over 100 members.
“She ensures that the club is organised efficiently, as well as running the adult league and arranging fixtures, umpiring, and facilities.”
Mel is head coach for the adult and junior teams, and her commitment in ensuring children reach their potential is second to none - regularly giving up her weekends to travel to fixtures.“
Typically, she would play down what she does but all who know Mel Marshalsey would agree with what was written – and will share our congratulations to her on receiving such a deserved accolade!

Mel receiving her Sport Pembrokeshire award from Mark Lester
Mel Marshalsey in relaxed mode