After attending a Walking Netball course run by England Netball and learning from Women in Sport on how best to engage our key demographic, we applied for funding from London Sport so we could set up our own Walking Netball group.
We wanted to branch out and be able to offer more than social netball leagues and I had a specific interest in engaging older people in the sport. Our aim was to set up a local group where people could exercise, feel part of a community group and make friends. In the long term, our aim was to make the group sustainable so it could continue after the funding money had been used.
Emma, who is a core member of the group and has been participating since the beginning has said “’Walking netball is changing my life. I’m 50, and before I started playing in February 2018, I hadn’t played netball for 35 years. I really wanted to play, but knew I wasn’t fit enough, and couldn’t motivate myself to take steps to improve my fitness (hate running and other cardio exercise!), so I was stuck. Then I saw walking netball on the England Netball website and realised it was what I was looking for. Now I play twice a week and absolutely love it – I’d play every day if it was available!”.
We advertised the group on Facebook as well as putting up posters around the town, advertising in the local magazine, posting on online forums such as Gumtree and Meet Up and contacting local community groups such as the Women’s Institute.
To encourage as many people as possible to come along and give it a go we offered the first session free and still do to new members.
We were delighted when 22 people showed up for our first session on 2nd February 2018. It was great to realise that our marketing efforts had worked and that people were interested in joining in.
We have been running the group for 18 weeks now and have an average of 16 people attending each week. We continue to advertise the sessions and have had 50 individuals attend at least one session so far.
The great thing about walking netball is that it offers players a chance to exercise and socialise at the same time. We have complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits after the session so players can get to know each other and make friends.
Another of our members, Julie, has said “I always loved netball but now I’m older I can’t cope with the full on game. I tried Walking Netball and I absolutely love it! Friday is now a day to look forward to; to get the exercise needed and get together with a great group of people. Kerry, the trainer, is great and makes it all fun.”.
Alannah is a newer member of the group and had this to say; “It is a great thing to have developed for us older women. Socially and physically too.”.
It’s great to hear this feedback from the players and we hope that we can continue to grow the group and eventually enter a Walking Netball tournament!
If you are interested in joining we play at HSBC Sports and Social Club in Beckenham from 11am – noon every Friday. Contact Kerry for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org /07895 790025.