What the Dickens? Ark deliver festival surprise

The Ark Dickens team

Ark Dickens were the surprise package of the latest Workplace Back to Netball Festival, held by England Netball.

The new team, who have never played together before, finished the event in third place – only losing out to eventual winners Blake Morgan and runners-up West Sussex Warriors.

Steph Strode, who organised the side made up of staff from Ark Dickens Primary Academy in the centre of Portsmouth, was delighted with the result and the players’ enthusiasm.

She said: ‘We entered on a bit of a whim but also for a bit of team bonding before the new term began.

‘None of the ladies have played netball recently, except one who has been attending Back to Netball sessions for a little while.

‘We were attracted to the fun nature of it and really did have a ball!

‘We were a bit surprised about how well we did and now the ladies are planning some fun sessions after school.’

The workplace event, just the second of its kind in Portsmouth, also attracted teams from West Sussex County Council, Blake Morgan solicitors, Queen Alexandra hospital cardiac unit and Portsmouth City Council.

Organiser Debbie Laycock, who is the South East Hampshire development community coach for England Netball, was delighted with the take-up.

She said: ‘As always, the festival was played in a great spirit and we encouraged the more experienced netballers to help out those who haven’t played for a while.

‘There were actually 49 ladies who played in the festival.

‘All of whom had not played netball for a number of years.

‘The feedback so far has been that they really enjoyed it.

‘So we will, hopefully, see them at Back to Netball sessions in the area.

‘Or maybe even see workplaces setting up their own Back to Netball session – as ever I’m always happy to help.’

Laycock saluted the efforts of Ark Dickens.

She added: ‘Ark Dickens were the surprise package of the night.

‘They were very nervous at the start but did really well.

‘For me, the best part was that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves – even the teams who finished towards the bottom of the results gave really positive feedback.

‘Back to Netball is meant to be fun and friendly and that’s what we strive to deliver.’

Three new sessions are starting next week.

One at St Johns College, Southsea another at the Mountbatten Centre and one at Havant Leisure Centre.

All sessions are indoors ready for the winter.

For more information on Back to Netball, or if you are interested in a bespoke workplace session, email debbie.laycock@englandnetball.co.uk

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