IT HAS been a highly successful year for the organisers and participants of walking netball.
Participation has increased by more than 100 per cent in the last year, which saw the first county walking netball festival hosted in Southsea.
The Fareham Leisure Centre session, one of the original pilot projects, celebrated its first birthday and has put on a second session, such has been the demand.
England Netball’s popular programme, reintroducing ladies to a slower-paced, gentler version of the game has had a big impact and community coach, Debbie Laycock is hoping for more of the same in 2018.
She said: ‘We had a great response in January of this year to our Fareham Leisure Centre session and it seems to have snowballed.
‘We had a great festival in the summer, where six teams came together to play friendly matches and we started new sessions in Horndean and Gosport.
‘February will see our next festival.’
Participant Caroline Barnes, from Stubbington, is a Walking Netball convert and now attends three sessions a week, such is her enthusiasm for the sport.
She said: ‘Walking netball is something I look forward to every week.
‘It’s a great way to meet people, socialise and feel part of a team.
‘We have fun, a giggle and a wiggle as well as a fantastic workout.
‘Walking netball may sound tame but in a competitive environment we all still want to win.
‘It’s brilliant to see players gain confidence in the game week on week.
‘I have been totally inspired by ladies who are aged in their 70s and 80s.
‘Many players have had injuries yet come back playing after hip replacements to lead a full and active role.
‘Long live Walking Netball.’
Team-mate and founding Fareham member Judy Yoxall, will be hosting her own session in Havant in the new year.
She said: ‘I’ve been attending walking netball for over a year now and go to both sessions a week at Fareham.
‘I’ve helped out at a few taster sessions in Portsmouth and really enjoyed the walking netball host training I attended earlier this year.
‘When the opportunity to host my own session in Havant came up – I jumped at the chance!
‘I’m really looking forward to getting started and look forward to welcoming new ladies in January.’
Havant Leisure Centre will be hosting brand new sessions from Wednesday, January 10 from 1.30pm to 2.30pm at £3 a session.
Sessions at Fareham Leisure Centre (Mondays 12.30pm to 1.30pm and Thursdays 12 to 1pm), Horndean Technology College (Drop in Wednesdays 5pm to 7pm and Gosport Leisure Centre (Wednesdays 12midday to 1pm) will also be returning in the new year.
See the website englandnetball.co.uk/my-game/walking-netball or contact Debbie Laycock 07854 090473 for more information about walking netball opportunities.