England Netball's female health initiative NETBALLHer celebrates one year anniversary

England Netball’s NETBALLHer initiative, launched in April 2023, has helped to drive vital conversations about female health amongst women and girls at all life stages over the past year.

NETBALLHer was launched in April 2023 as an initiative to better educate and support women and girls at all levels of sport about their female health across the different life stages. NETBALLHer is England Netball’s approach to creating environments where all women and girls can show up authentically, without apology and truly belong. Proudly leading the way as the first NGB to fully embed female health at every level, creating a systemic change. Over the past 12 months, NETBALLHer has helped to normalise conversations on topics about the female body and created an important cultural shift within the Netball Family.

Developed in partnership with The Well HQ, the NETBALLHer website and NETBALLHer Learning Offer provides expert advice, resources, infographics, and personal testimonies. England Netball staff, coaches, officials, volunteers and players across the country have embraced and embedded their learnings into their netball clubs, leagues and community programmes. This has created environments in which players at all life stages feel educated and empowered to talk about their own bodies and female health in ways which they haven’t previously.

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Kelly Gordon, Director of Development and Executive Lead for NETBALLHer at England Netball said: “What an extraordinary year it has been! When NETBALLHer was launched, we anticipated we would raise the bar for our netball family and beyond, but I don’t think we realised just how high.

“Along with The Well HQ, our aim was to create and embed expert resources and transformative learning opportunities to support not only our netball family but also their extended networks. Additionally, we set out to be a strong and responsible voice for “her”. We have not only achieved these goals but surpassed them.

“Our netball community has ignited a movement, committed to reshaping the landscape for women and girls, and this is just the start. NETBALLHer will continue to push boundaries, advocate for change, and empower women and girls to embrace their true selves, unapologetically.”

The increased awareness and understanding of the different female life stages that NETBALLHer has cultivated has resulted in these becoming open topics of discussion in netball clubs and leagues across the country at a grassroots level, as well as in the changing rooms and training sessions of the Vitality Roses.

Baz Moffat, CEO and Co-Founder of The Well HQ reflected on the importance of the initiative, adding: “NETBALLHer is really important as it provides information about the female body to girls and women that they can trust and use. Having resources that are evidence based yet very practical is what is needed so that girls and women can learn about their bodies and start to tap into the powers that they never knew they had.”

Referenced as a best practice example in the Women and Equalities Committee ‘Health Barriers for Girls and Women in Sport’ report and the Carney Review into women’s football, there are plenty of highlights from the first year of the initiative. All England Netball delivery staff have completed the NETBALLHer Female Body learning modules on the different female life stages, and these have also been made available for members to access for free. The learnings from these have been woven into the blueprint of England Netball’s Back to Netball programme and ‘Court Short’ kits are available for women and girls to use at all England Netball participation programmes as well as in the arena toilets at international netball matches.

In partnership with the Netball Players Association (NPA), Netball Super League (NSL) club coaches and players have received pelvic health education and support. The NSL clubs themselves have led the way in embedding female health initiatives on and beyond the court; with some practical examples including clubs providing athletes with menstrual cycle tracking with adapted strength and conditioning programmes; education sessions on nutrition, injury prevention and breast health, along with sports bra fittings for NSL and pathway athletes.

Prior to the Netball World Cup in the summer of 2023, the Vitality Roses attended a breast health workshop and sports bra fitting with breast health research experts from the University of Portsmouth. In partnership with their Official Kit Supplier Nike, England Netball then pledged to donate a sports bra to a young netballer for every goal scored by the Vitality Roses over the course of the tournament, with 522 sports bras donated in total. To end the year on a high NETBALLHer won the national Great British Workplace, Female Health Advocate Award.

As NETBALLHer moves into its second year, England Netball continues to use NETBALLHer to drive change; creating environments where previously taboo conversations are encouraged, and to encourage women and girls to continue being curious about their bodies. A key focus will be on embedding NETBALLHer into Bee Netball to support girls entering puberty and NETBALLHer will continue to be rolled out across NSL clubs during the 2024 NSL season.

To learn more about the different female life stages and how best to support women and girls in sport, visit www.netballher.co.uk.

Follow England Netball on Facebook, X and Instagram to view more about NETBALLHer and to see more conversations being opened up about women’s health.

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