The sport I have chosen to examine for the local and national provision investigation is Netball. I have played netball since primary school and have gone through the grass roots in the Bournemouth and Poole area. I reached county level and now continue playing in Wimbourne’s ladies league. I therefore have an ongoing interest in this sport. Netball was born in 1895 but it wasn’t until 1957 that worldwide representatives devised a set of official standard rules. Netball only became a recognised Olympic sport in 1995 when it looked forward to programmed status and participation.
The Governing body for Netball is ‘England Netball’. A Governing body is a dependant organisation which develops and promotes it’s own sport, it organises competitions, enforces rules, is involved in team selection and liasing with other national and international sport bodies as well as increasing participation at all levels. In this investigation, I propose to show how England Netball is providing opportunity and provision on a local and national scale giving access, participation and motivation to all. I hope to show how these pathways accommodate ability and disability as well as age, gender and to show if England Netball are successful in their motives. England is divided into 10 regions. Each region is then sub-divided into 57 Counties. Within these affiliated Counties over 350 leagues are in play. In England there are 3,311 registered Netball clubs involving over 55,000 individual players. 2,814 schools are also involved with this wide spread participation in Netball and this is where the grassroots lie.
In most cases the introduction to netball occurs at school, as it is part of the P.E syllabus. There is a national schools netball event sponsored by the Daily Telegraph to encourage team play and school involvement in netball that proves very successful. The All England Netball Club has development schemes in action around the country and they have developed an Active Sports scheme. This is to enthuse, retain and develop young peoples ability in sport. Active sports involve the full commitment of local authorities, education services and schools. The programme gives girls and boys a wider access into netball at many levels. England Netball tries to attract those sections of the community that have yet to enjoy netball. Active sports are a way of targeting those groups who are under represented in the sport and committing girls from disadvantaged areas.
The local provision for netball in Bournemouth starts with Bournemouth Junior Netball Club which is the main source feeding both Bournemouth’s senior teams and County squads with talented players. The local league structure consists of eight divisions played on three consecutive nights a week. For the older members, ladies leagues are played in various areas. They are competitive but played for enjoyment rather than team selection.
County and National Leagues: County squad selection starts at the beginning of each season and players who are deemed good enough are recommended to attend. This can be through scouting or just by personal belief. County squads range from under 14 level up to the open selection. A player is only fully recognised when they are selected to represent the County at under 16 levels. There are a large number of leagues in play around the country; For those who don’t make County teams there are the Millennium youth games. This is part of Sport England’s initiative to promote active sport. Regional tournaments are held and Bournemouth attends this each year.
Netball is classed as a female sport and is dominated by female participants. However, provision has been made for males. England Netball and IFNA state that single sex competition is permitted but guidelines have been issued which say males under eleven years of age may play and compete in clubs, schools and leagues. Schools and clubs must make participation available to boys and girls up to and including GCSE students. To encourage male participation, separate girls and boy’s competitions are provided as well as mixed competitions. High five netball has been introduced in which male participation is acceptable. High five is aimed at younger children as it is less intense than seven a side netball yet it still focuses on skill and techniques.
Creating provision in netball for disabled participants has proved hard but modifications have been made to cater for the all. These are such things as the less complicated high five netball as well as first step netball. People with a disability can attend courses offered especially to those who have specific needs. For the continuation of England Netball and the All England netball schemes they must have sufficient funding and sponsorship. In addition to affiliation fees, under new plans, announced on 18 November 2003, netball receives funding from one central source, Sport England. Rather than the previous arrangement, which saw the sports finances provided from a number of bodies, over a number of different timescales. Sponsorship, although not a huge amount comes from Adidas Performance body care and sales of merchandise such as Gilbert netballs and Mitre who are the sponsors of the England team
The Federation of Europe Netball Association is a large-scale body that works on a larger scale than England Netball, but not quite at international level. They help oversee the England Netball schemes and policies and are there as a helping hand to any netball body in Europe. They also liase with bodies around Europe creating leagues and fixtures. To conclude it is clear that there is very good provision in terms of female participation but overall the provision for males is poor. This is the same for the disabled. Netball is an extremely female dominated sport and males are not sufficiently provided for. As male participation stops after primary school level. Through looking at the policies and development scheme of England Netball and comparing them with the missions,I would say that England Netball are well on the way to achieving their goals and they have thought carefully about ways in which to extend provision for male participation and facilities for the disabled.