Perfect time to get back in the groove

Netball leagues have been boosted. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Netball leagues have been boosted. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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Now is the perfect time to get Back to Netball.

Funded by Sport England – it is an England Netball initiative.

Netball development officer Debbie Laycock has been starting classes all over the region.

It’s in colleges, leisure centres, schools – and there’s even mother-and-daughter sessions.

Some of these classes are free, the others have only a nominal charge.

These sessions are aimed at any woman not currently playing netball and, although there’s no long-term commitment, many teams are formed, even clubs eventually, as participants learn to love the sport.

Eventually teams feed into leagues for competitive play. Some start with a social league such as All About Netball run at Cams Hill School, Fareham.

One of the organisers, Dee Parker, says the beauty of this type of league is the level of participation.

She said: ‘All you need do is turn up and play, although we do require you to affiliate to All England (giving you insurance cover in case of injury) and play to their game rules.

‘Our league policies aren’t very complex. We supply qualified umpires, scorers, bibs, even balls and wearing a kit isn’t a necessity.

‘It seems to take a lot of the stress away from new teams trying competitive play for the first time and allows older teams to concentrate on their game not paperwork.

‘We’ve actually increased numbers from four teams to 16, two divisions and a junior league.’

Laycock also joked that while the teams have a lot fun, they don’t like losing.

She added: ‘We laugh a lot but having said that we don’t have a team that steps on court to lose.’

There are also the more established leagues like Gosport & Fareham.

It’s a slick operation with more than 50 teams in seven divisions, playing over four nights.

New chairperson Emily Shemmell feels the Gosport & Fareham Netball Association (GFNA) formula suits many people.

‘Over the years we’ve had generations play together on court,’ she said.

‘We offer a structured approach to netball as we have set divisions.

‘We welcome beginners looking to progress and those with more experience.

‘Hopefully we can encourage lots more ladies into the sport by offering low commitment, enabling players to build confidence, then on to a more formal league. It will also mean the sport retains players who cannot commit regularly.

‘Supporting each other means we are able to offer something for everyone and continuity for players.’

For more details, email the GFNA at leaguesecretary@gosport-fareham-netball.co.uk

Alternatively, contact Laycock at debbie.laycock@englandnetball.co.uk or Parker at allaboutnetball@outlook.com