Walking netball is thriving in Portsmouth with big plans for the latest group to get involved.
Netball in the Community’s Debbie Laycock set up the session at Canoe Lake Leisure, attracting a regular following.
They have now continued their new-found love of the game with indoor sessions at Milton Village Hall.
The Monday evening sessions attract a range of ages, proving the gentler version of the popular women’s sport is in rude health, writes Helen Dunning.
Eastney-based Marion Butler is one of the regulars who has been with the group since the beginning.
She said: ‘It’s fun, it is friendly and it’s active.
‘I really look forward to my Monday evenings, I’m not from Portsmouth so I’ve met new friends and the best part is there has not been a week that has gone by where we haven’t fallen about laughing.’
Fellow walking netballer Emily Ginn also enjoys the good vibes.
She added: ‘I’ve moved to Portsmouth after finishing university and my experience of any netball has been limited.
‘Walking Netball has given me the opportunity to be introduced to the sport as well as meet new people.
‘It’s great we’re now inside with colder evenings but the plan is to go back outside in the summer, as well as organise friendly matches and enter festivals.
‘We’ve already established quite a team and look forward to the future.’
Laycock explained Walking Netball set at a gentler pace with variations on the rules and the women who play it often have different motivations.
She added: ‘Women who tend to participate in Walking Netball do for social and health reasons.
‘We’ve seen success in other areas, like Fareham, where the ladies have a social network they never had before, they’re doing more exercise on top of their twice-weekly sessions and they contribute to the community in other ways, such as charity fundraising.
‘We’d like to replicate that success with us in Portsmouth, so far, so good.’
Laycock credits the recent success down to the dedication of the regulars as well as the superb hosts at Canoe Lake Leisure and Milton Village Hall.
She added: ‘The staff at Canoe Lake offered us a really friendly, accessible venue and we used the pavilion for our end of summer social.
‘Due to the dark nights and colder weather we have gone inside at Milton Village Hall.
‘Thankfully the staff are just as helpful and the transition has been seamless.
‘This support is key to the success.’
The Portsmouth walking netball sessions cost £2.50 and take place every Monday evening 7.15pm to 8pm at Milton Village Hall, Southsea, PO4 8PR.
New players are always welcome, no need to book just turn up – a warm welcome awaits.