Netball is more than a game for Amy Marfell.
Marfell is a PhD candidate in the final stages of her doctoral project at the University of Waikato. The 27-year-old’s project focuses on netball and women’s everyday experiences of the sport in New Zealand. She will be submitting her PhD in the coming weeks and it's an area of research allowed Marfell to study a sport she is passionate about both academically and recreationally.
"I have been a netballer since I was eight years old and since then the sport has always been a large and important part of my life. By undertaking this research, I not only aim to better understand the experiences of women players, but also to give voice to a group of women who have, surprisingly, remained somewhat voiceless among academic sport studies in New Zealand."
Over the last three years, Marfell has held a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship, a scholarship from the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women's Trust (Waikato branch) and has been awarded a Claude McCarthy Fellowship. She has also been able to present her research at three international conferences in France, the United States and here in Hamilton, as well as at a number of smaller seminars and symposiums.
She acknowledges completing a PhD is a significant undertaking, and has required a lot of determination and hard work on her part.
"Embarking on my PhD has been an incredibly challenging, but rewarding journey. I began working fulltime towards this qualification just over three years ago, and have since immersed myself in large and extensive amounts of reading, engaged in data collection. That consisted of playing netball, observing netball and netballers, conducting interviews with women players and analyzing an array of online, televised and print media on netball across the course of two years.
"I have used the insights derived from these methods to write a thesis, which I am currently editing in preparation for submission for examination. It’s safe to say, the vast majority of the past three years I have spent my time living and breathing this research project."
Marfell now plans to pursue a career as an academic. She is passionate about teaching and is eager to apply and develop her skills as a lecturer, as well as publishing her research in books and academic journals. She hopes her achievements can inspire other young people, particularly women to reach for ambitious goals.
"It is possible to turn something you are passionate about into a promising and extremely rewarding career. Knowledge is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance our own lives as well as the lives and experiences of others."