Why netball is a great sport!
IT’S a sport with women’s teams and there was a World Cup this summer – but we’re not talking about football. No, this is netball, currently one of the fastest growing sports for both adults and children!
The Netball World Cup, which saw the Scottish Thistles finish in 11th place, in Liverpool in England in July is just one reason for the recent surge of interest. Netball sessions for juniors have been springing up across Edinburgh and the Lothians, including Super Netters, set up by Christine Fourie.
Super Netters – originally called Mini Netters - started with just two sessions in Edinburgh three years ago but has now expanded to Midlothian and runs sessions at Ainslie Park in Edinburgh and Beeslack Community High in Penicuik for P1s-P5s.
Christine says she sees a huge difference in girls coming to classes after just a few weeks – and not only in their netballing skills. “They are totally different girls after a few sessions, their confidence level comes up. They come from various schools from across Edinburgh, so they get to make new friends, and meet a wider range of peers. To start with they are a bit shy about talking to girls they don’t know, after a few weeks they chat with everyone.”
For Christine, though, one of the biggest plus points to netball is the team work. “There are only two players in netball who can score, shooters and goal attack, the rest need to act as a team. It brings out the camaraderie and that’s what they need in life.”
Caroline Mooney, a coach with the Linlithgow Flyers’ junior netball sessions, agrees about the important life-skill of team work that netball builds. “A centre isn’t able to shoot – this isn’t about an individual. It teaches that everyone has a role to play,” she says.
The Flyers run weekly sessions for P1-P5s, and P6s-S2s, at Linlithgow Primary School. And while the sessions are open to boys and girls, unlike many team sports they are girl-dominated. That gives girls, under-represented in team sports, a safe space to be competitive and get sweaty.
“You get girls interested in sport early on when they are younger but as they get into their pre-teen years towards the end of primary school, they start to get a bit self-conscious and they start to fall away from playing team sports. And once they get into their teenage years they are far less likely to pick up a new sport when they are concerned about body image and feeling self-conscious about making mistakes,” says Caroline.
“So it’s important to get girls into a team sport early in primary school and one which they will stick with through those more difficult years. And netball is a sport that with very little practise you can play the proper version of it, which is important – as a youngster so often the game you play doesn’t resemble what you see on telly. It’s also a low-cost sport – you don’t need expensive protective gear.
“It allows girls to be competitive - all too often when a girl is competitive they are labelled bossy.
“And because the team work is so vital to netball you really have to support your friends as you play – and that spills over off the court as well so you end up making good friendships. And that bond between your group of netball friends means you are more likely to keep playing as you get older and into the teenage years because you are all doing it together. My netball team are like my family!”
And she says it’s a fun, sociable, active hobby that can last for life. “You can play netball no matter what your age or fitness. There are recreational and competitive teams for adults across Scotland – even Walking Netball sessions for those who are older or with joint problems so it does set you up for life.”
*Super Netters: website https://supersportykids.class4kids.co.uk/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuperNetters
*Linlithgow Flyers Juniors: https://www.facebook.com/LinlithgowFlyersJuniorNetball/