How Scottish netball's super-mum is getting back on court against Barbados
Maxwell, the 33-year-old Strathclyde Sirens player with a decorated career, only gave birth to daughter Lucy in April, but that was not going to stop her being a part of this exciting new era for the sport in this country which is just getting going.
The Scottish Thistles, with Maxwell at the helm and good friend Emily Nicholl as vice-captain, are taking on Barbados this evening, and Friday, on home soil.
Post-pandemic, the team is building towards the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and World Cup 2023 under new head coach Tamsin Greenway and her assistant Sara Francis-Bayman.
And the journey begins at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena over the next couple of nights against a Bajan Gems outfit who always give the Scots a tough workout.
“We are just buzzing to get back playing now,” Maxwell said.
“The wider squad has been together for a wee while now and we have had some friendlies and some hit outs, but these two Tests feel like the start of the next chapter for netball in Scotland.
“We have a good balance between experience and youth in the squad and hopefully myself and Emily can lead by example and help the team put on some good showings for the fans who have waited a long time to see a Scotland game live again.”
Maxwell says Lucy’s arrival just over seven months ago has “changed her life forever and for the better” and whilst focusing on being a mum, she never lost the desire to want to play netball for her country again.
“Having Lucy has made my life totally different of course and juggling looking after her around training and such like was always going to be a challenge, but myself, my husband and our support network have made it work,” she explains.
“Lucy being here has also given me a different perspective on life, when I was younger at times maybe netball was everything to me, but now I have a different mindset.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t want to win for Scotland, far from it, indeed it just makes me realise how lucky I am to get to play for my country and I just want to make Lucy proud as she grows up and watches me play.
“I also want to show other female athletes that you can be performing at the top level and be a mum, the two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
So, did Nicholl, 27, ever have any doubts that her friend would be back on court?
“Not at all, Claire loves netball and I knew she was keen to come back and play when the time was right for her,” the vice-captain said.
“Her drive and determination is an inspiration to us all. Exciting things are happening within this Thistles squad just now and we are so delighted to have Claire leading the way, she is a brilliant captain.”
Both tonight and tomorrow’s games have a centre pass time of 7.30pm with streaming live via BBC Sport Scotland and the BBC iPlayer.
Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.