An inspirational performance from Stroll Sisters saw them take the top prize from the friendly walking netball festival hosted in Portsmouth, writes Helen Dunning...
They remained unbeaten throughout and defeated Gosport-based team Viners by just one goal in a dramatic final to take the medals for victory.
It was a fun festival as nearly 100 ladies from across the region took part.
The result was identical to the first Hampshire walking netball festival held in Southsea last summer.
England Netball’s Community Coach Debbie Laycock organised both festivals.
She is seeing an increase in the popularity of the latest netball development programme.
‘We had heaps of interest in the latest festival which resulted in more teams entering and travelling further too,’ said Laycock.
‘This time it was great to welcome a team from the Isle of Wight and also groups from the New Forest.
‘Our aim was to make sure the participants left with smiles on their faces, having had the best time.
‘As well as the netball, there was the opportunity to have a natter over coffee, enjoy home-made cake and share their walking netball experiences with other players and groups.’
Carol Maybe from West Wight was awarded best and fairest player as voted for by the festival’s volunteer umpires.
Laycock added: ‘Walking Netball is a great leveller, we try not to get too excited but I think some of the ladies found a competitive edge that they hadn’t seen for a few years.’
Ann Selby, one of the team organisers said: ‘West Wight walking netballers ventured across the Solent for their first walking netball tournament and it was a great day, meeting like-minded netballers.
‘Coming third was incredible and our team mate, Carol being voted best and fairest player was exciting. Well done to Debbie and all the volunteers.’
England Netball launched walking netball in 2016, with Fareham Leisure Centre being chosen as one of the pilot programmes. Since that time 500 participants have joined in with walking netball in the area.
It’s a great venture for fitness, returning from injury, but also has built a social circle for many of the participants from an area that many thought was closed to them – and they have been joining sports teams and entering competitive tournaments, for some, well into retirement.
Laycock added: ‘As always, huge thanks to our volunteer umpires, cake makers, refreshment sellers and raffle contributors.
‘We couldn’t put on events like these without such support and I am delighted we raised £234 for Cancer Research UK on our raffle and cake sale.’
Walking netball sessions are happening now in Fareham, Swanmore, Havant and Gosport with details on England Netball’s website.
Final results: 1 Stroll Sisters, 2 Viners, 3 West Wight, 4 Milton Maids, 5 Milton, 6 Fareham Follies, 7 Swanmore, 8 Fareham Foxes
By Helen Dunning