Netball: Great time to celebrate women’s sporting successes

Action from Yorkshire Jets and Mavericks. PIC: Chris Midgey
Action from Yorkshire Jets and Mavericks. PIC: Chris Midgey
Have your say

This week has been a little different as we have had 10 days off since our last Superleague fixture because our match was televised live on Sky Sports on Monday night.

Sky Sports have covered netball for a several years but there has been a big increase in the coverage over the last couple with Monday night live netball really taking off!

Perhaps surprisingly, the matchday experience is much the same apart from some slightly darker tans, a big lens zooming in on each team talk and the delightful post-match sweaty interviews!

Sky Sports certainly chose a good match to be played in front of the cameras, as we faced Mavericks who were just sitting ahead of us at third place in the table.

The match was extremely tightly fought with Mavericks putting on a very physical defensive display. However, our attack kept slipping through and racking up the goals.

At the other end Sky Sports player of the match, Sally Butters at WD, piled on the pressure supported by our Jets player of the match, Tuaine Keenan at GK.

Each quarter Jets added more goals to the goal difference, winning all four quarters and triumphing 56-42! That should silence any doubters ...

I’m sure the crowd in Huddersfield will have enjoyed the game, especially as this is the first official Superleague game to have ever been played in the town. Jets are the only team in the Superleague to play in several locations across their home region to ensure that netball is accessible to all.

And to great effect, with 19 new ‘Back to Netball’ sessions, consisting of 220 new recruits, set up across Yorkshire and the Humber since April 2014.

These groups are designed to welcome back ladies who haven’t played netball for a number of years but are keen to play again for fitness, to make friends or simply for the love of the game.

At the other end of the spectrum are the junior players who could now join one of the four new clubs set up over the last year alone.

Even teenage girls are joining the trend with 250 new netballers in our Yorkshire colleges. Many of these girls will continue to play netball at university just like the hundreds, me included, do in Leeds.

It was great to see 50 of my friends from the Leeds University Netball Club supporting Jets on Monday evening.

Playing and training with my university team will form some of my fondest memories of my whole netball career and has been the source of some lifelong friendships.

Ever-increasing numbers of players need support, so coaches and volunteers are essential for the launch and success of any club or new initiative.

Fortunately, these aren’t in short supply in Yorkshire either, with 71 netball coaches gaining new qualifications and nearly 300 young volunteers signing up to the ‘Pass on Your Passion programme’, an England Netball programme recognising volunteers aged between 12 and 25.

Some of these volunteers help out at our Jets games with anything from selling tickets to face-painting or even the very important job of timekeeping! All of the squad appreciate how incredibly valuable each and every one of them is.

Later this week it’s back to business with a match in Cardiff against Celtic Dragons on Saturday followed by a trip down the M1 to take on Loughborough Lightning on Monday.

I am also delighted to have been asked to speak at the Leeds’ Celebrating Women event on Friday. It will be fantastic to meet many inspirational women and celebrate female success!