Eleanor Cardwell visits first netball club, Blackpool Netball Club, to promote sports bra fitting

Eleanor Cardwell with members of Blackpool Netball Club's U15s. Credit: Morgan Harlow

Vitality Rose Eleanor Cardwell visited her first club – Blackpool Netball Club – to help provide free sports bras to young teens after success at the Netball World Cup.

Over the summer, Cardwell helped shoot England to their best-ever finish at a World Cup this summer, beating the top two ranked sides Australia and New Zealand on their way to the final.

Before the tournament started, England Netball and Official Kit Supplier Nike pledged a free sports bra for every goal scored to teenage players at the Roses’ first clubs, located across the country.

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A huge advocate for the promotion of positive breast health, Eleanor has been posting regular reviews on her social media channels about different sports bras, and the importance of wearing correctly fitted sports bras that has really resonated with her female followers. In South Africa, she scored 231 of England’s 522 goals.

Earlier this week she was joined at Blackpool Sports Centre by sports bra fitter and expert Lucy Horsell who spoke to 27 girls from Blackpool’s U15 age group – only three of whom had ever been fitted before – about the performance benefits of a sports bra and offered a free fitting service before the girls in attendance were able to claim a free sports bra from Nike.

Eleanor Cardwell said: “I never had any education when I was growing up about sports bras or anything to do with being a female and so it’s amazing for these young girls to experience this and get the opportunity to be fitted. Hopefully, it will help them to feel more comfortable and confident and know what the correct sports bra should feel like.”

“It’s great to see more work being done to educate people on women’s health. I hope through this movement we, as a sport, can have more open conversations about topics like this and girls can play sport without being concerned about areas of their body or their health.”

The initiative links to England Netball’s new programme NETBALLHer, designed to better educate women and girls at all levels of sport about their bodies across the different life stages.

“I never had any education when I was growing up about sports bras or anything to do with being a female and so it’s amazing for these young girls to experience this”

According to a study by The University of Portsmouth Research Group, 87% of teens reported breast issues such as pain, movement, poor bra fit or embarrassment, which prohibited them from exercising. In addition, England Netball has found that 14-17-year-olds represents the age group with the highest drop-out rate from the sport.

Kelly Gordon, Executive Lead for NETBALLHer commented: “Having the right sports bra and being educated on breast health is all too often an overlooked aspect of adolescent wellbeing. It’s staggering that a lack of adequate education can result in so many youngsters dropping out of sport and never being able to embrace their full sporting potential.

“For the majority of the girls we spoke to this was the first conversation they’ve had about sports bras. Once Eleanor started to speak about her experience, they started to ask a few more questions and so this just demonstrates the importance of having conversations with girls of this age group.”

Gabrielle Towell, Head Coach at Blackpool Netball Club added: “Some of the things that were shared I had never appreciated, especially around the impact it can have on performance and marginal gains so I’ll be speaking to my older players to make sure they’re educated.

“It’s good to have Eleanor here to talk about this and normalise it. I know some of the juniors would have been a bit nervous beforehand but it’s good we’re trying to make this not a taboo subject.”

Before the Netball World Cup, the England Netball team had their own bra fittings, a first of its kind. The entire team were fitted by experts, and each player spent time talking about the importance of being fitted, how this can impact performance and the considerations when it comes to getting the right fit.

To learn more about sports bras and the importance of breast health, visit netballher.co.uk.

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