Been a bit busy behind the scenes at NWLNL to be able to focus on blogging this week, but I regularly read news articles on the sport, keep tabs on the Super League and generally try to stay up-to-date with all things netball. So here is an interesting read, courtesy of The Guardian, although I totally disagree that it is uncool. In fact, I would say it is one of the coolest sports out there.
‘Netball is on a Popularity Drive’ by Morwenna Ferrier
Tuesday 7 February 2017 16.28 GMT
Full online article
“Good news: netball, the least-cool sport in the history of all sport, is getting a £16.9m government grant, with £10.5m earmarked to encourage adult women to take it up again. That’s twice as much as tennis and three times what basketball will receive over the next four years.
Now I can say uncool because I play netball every week, and have gone to great lengths to avoid admitting it. It is indeed deeply uncool, and there are several reasons: its reputation at schools, its complex rules and its tremendous restrictions on movement, not to mention the fact that marking an opponent requires a player to do a modified Nazi salute. But, as Andrew St Ledger, head of media at Sport England, which awarded the grant, explains, it is popular and it is, arguably, needed.
“It’s all about getting people who are typically not represented in sports and physical activity to take part. We know that if you go from doing nothing to even a tiny amount of exercise the benefits are huge,” he says. “Netball is a great one for targeting women because about 98% of people who play netball are women, as you might expect.”
I played at a reasonably high level until I was 16 and only took it up again when I started working in an office. I’ve since learned that many businesses employ several covert players, often in fairly high positions of power. Which is one of the nice things about it – I have played with social workers, lawyers, nurses and doctors; people I don’t normally meet.
But it isn’t for everyone, and while we’re pretty good at netball in the UK – generally sitting in the top five – this is possibly because it fits the British sensibility: dogged, pack-like, rule-following folk, open to controlled violence and cheating within reason. It’s a non-contact sport but we have our ways round that. It’s diverse, especially in London, but has always had a reputation for being slightly elitist.
For those who haven’t played before, netball has seven players and is quite like basketball but less fun. I play “centre”. Traditionally, centres are bullies, but I see myself as more of a lynchpin. I’m quite fast and aggressive, two common attributes, but I’m also quite a nice person. Sure, I’ve been sent off-court for swearing but who hasn’t?
It is only since I grew up that I realised that netball’s bad rap is unfair. Because this is a game about altruism. Only two players can actually shoot, so as a centre I will never score a goal. Ever. Even Pique gets to score. Imagine all that running, all that “setting-up”, without any glory. I’m basically Robin Hood. Except uncool.”