• Netball is on a popularity drive!

    Good News! Netball, one of the most popular female sports in the UK has been awarded a £16.9m Government grant, with £10.5m earmarked to encourage adult women to take it up again.

    This grant shows a significant investment in a sport that has long been forgotten in place of male dominated sports such as football, rugby and basketball. As Andrew St Ledger, head of media at Sport England, which awarded the grant, explains, Netball is popular and the funding is, arguably, needed. “It’s all about getting people who are typically not represented in sports and physical activity to take part. We know that if you go from doing nothing to even a tiny amount of exercise the benefits are huge,” he says. “Netball is a great one for targeting women because about 98% of people who play netball are women, as you might expect.”

    I hold a personal view of netball being the greatest sport out there because I play up to 3 times a week and go to great lengths to tell anyone who will listen. There are several reasons for this: I seek to dispel the outdated notion that this is a sport only to be played at school, in cold conditions and heavily restricts movement. The game of netball forces its players to think strategically and tactfully, plan each move in the space of 3 seconds and work as team in order to move the ball up the court. Rather than a sport where one individual takes all the glory, netball is truly a team sport that requires the whole team to work together to move the two shooting players into a position under the post to make a successful shot. The physicality needed to play at a top level is no different and in some cases higher than in other sports, it requires a multitude of skills and precision. In the words of England captain Ama Agbeze, herself a defender, speaking out against an ill-informed suggestion that when marking an opponent, players are required to do a modified Nazi salute, “The only similarity to the Nazi salute is the extended arm. I don’t ever recall Nazi’s jumping head and shoulders over a 6ft 2in person in an attempt to smash the ball from its trajectory towards the post in a feat of athleticism and timing.”

    Playing at a grass roots level, one of the most surprising benefits is that I meet a wide variety of people from every walk of life; I have played with doctors, policewomen, nurses, waitresses, office workers... the list is endless. Netball not only allows you to get fit, it increases your social life tenfold.

    I am aware, netball isn’t for everyone, neither is tennis, but as a nation we currently sit in the top three national teams, behind front runners Australia and New Zealand. It’s a non contact sport with plenty of exciting action at a fast pace; which does lead to some spectacular clashes sending players flying across the court, where they pick themselves back up and head straight back into the fight.

    For those who haven’t played before, netball has seven players and is quite like basketball but more fun. I play “Goal Attack (GA)”. This is a shooting position but the role on the court is to support the mid field and the shooter. Other positions include Goal Shooter (GS); the main goal scorer, Wing attack (WA); a mid field attacking player who works with Centre to work the ball into a position in the circle for the GS/GA to make a successful attempt on goal. Centre (C); is a main court player, supporting both defence and attack, traditionally these player are quick and agile, Wing Defence (WD); a defensive position that is required to intercept the ball in play and turn the advantage back for their team, Goal Defence (GD); required to prevent the GA of the opposing team from shooting as well as intercepting any pass into the circle and finally Goal Keeper (GK); the final line of defence, they are required to intercept any ball into the circle and prevent shots being made. Each position requires a different skill set and physical challenges.

    The announcement of this funding is a massive step forward, not only for netball but for women’s sport in general. Too long has coverage of sport been dominated by male led activities with little funding and coverage given to women competing on the same level. It was in 2014 – only 3 years ago - that the English Cricketing Board agreed to pay for 18 full time women cricketers, allowing professional women cricketers to solely concentrate on the sport rather than having to hold down a full time job as well as train for their sport. This is a trend that must continue and rather than discouraging females from taking part in sport they should be encouraged and celebrated. I for one am immensely proud to say, “I AM A NETBALLER!”

    Author notes: This post is in response to an article published by @guardian_sport written by Morwenna Ferrier. You can view the post at this link:


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