Why netball is experiencing a boom in England

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Netball has long been associated with high school, but the recent success by the England team and the growth in the Superleague, has seen enthusiasm for the sport increase.

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Numbers

Last year saw a 44% rise in participation in the sport at grassroots level and it is estimated 30,000 players regularly take part in the game.

Alternative versions of the game

Netball is traditionally played outdoors, but alternative versions of the game have been introduced over the years. An indoor game called ‘Nets’ is played across the world by both men, women and mixed teams. Nets rules differ slightly as the ball doesn’t go out of play, whereas in traditional netball, the court is marked. England currently hold the women’s and under 18’s world championship nets title.

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A shorter game called Fast5 has also been developed and uses only five players per team with matches lasting 12 minutes instead of the traditional 60. England won the Fast5 World Series Championship in 2017.

Development

England’s head coach Tracey Neville is keen for the sport to be included in the next Olympics and believes in order to achieve this, men need to be encouraged to play netball as well, like they do in Australia and New Zealand. Netball can be played by any age and children are usually first introduced to the sport in primary school. Many sporting organisations also offer walking netball for older players, so whatever level a player is, there is a club for them. Companies such as sportplan.net/drills/Netball/Getting-free/Triangle-for-Getting-Free-TBN0058.jsp offer netball training drills for all levels, from beginner to experienced.

Rules

Netball is a fast-paced game involving seven players per team. Only two players from each team can score and the areas of play are restricted depending on your position. Each player has to mark their opposing player throughout the game and you can’t move until you pass, plus you have to release the ball within three seconds.

Recognition

Earlier this year, England won gold at the Commonwealth Games by scoring in the final seconds of the match and this week saw the team named Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Awards, as well as taking the ‘Greatest Sporting Moment’ award – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality/46551055.

The future

England is now preparing for the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool and hoping to build on their recent success.