National Inclusion Week: Reflecting on our Commonwealth Games Watch Parties 

National Inclusion Week (26 September – 2 October) is an awareness week dedicated to learning about and celebrating inclusive culture. 

In netball, we want everyone to find a place to belong, flourish and soar on and beyond the court. 

The power of connection, which is Tuesday’s theme for National Inclusion Week – such as building relationships, engaging in dialogue and developing understanding – is crucial in opening up the sport to new audiences in every community so netball better represents the rich diversity of the country it proudly represents, and ensures the sport continues to evolve and adapt to thrive in the future. 

“I love how we are opening up opportunities for people from ethnic minority backgrounds to get more involved in netball”

As part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games legacy project, netball programme delivery in diverse communities across the West Midlands was accelerated in line with our Adventure Strategy aspiration to make the sport a possibility within everyone’s reach.  

A series of Watch Parties for the growing Muslim netball community were hosted, including a Community Watch Along which introduced community leaders from 2021-22 pilot sessions to international netball. 

100 ‘Watch at Home’ bags were also delivered into the Muslim community to encourage people to host parties in their homes introducing their neighbours, friends and family to the sport.

In addition, a group of game-changing women helped us continue to extend our understanding of how we can work together to diversify netball’s fan base, engage new audiences, and ensure live netball experiences can be enjoyed by all through our Watch Live event. 

On 2 August, members of England Netball’s Participation, Insight and Partnership & Delivery teams accompanied 15 South Asian Muslim women living across the  Midlands to watch Team England play Uganda at the NEC. 

The attendees were largely keen netballers currently playing at various closed (women only) spaces who had been pivotal in supporting other like-minded women to take part in netball in the Midlands area. 

They had been invited to the match as both a thank you for their support in their communities for growing netball, but also to enable us to run a short informal ‘focus group’ to learn about their experience of watching netball at live events to better understand how we can grow and open our sport to more diverse audiences, particularly among South Asian Muslim women.  

“It was so lovely to meet everyone and I was very inspired by all of the amazing effort the ladies have done and continue to do to improve the wellbeing of individuals through netball.” 

During the focus groups, the women talked about their general view of attending sporting events and described why they would think very carefully about attending sports stating common barriers like: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Racial abuse 
  • Lack of visibility and awareness of events 
  • Safety of travel to venues
  • Prayer times 
  • Ticket prices 

Findings show that many women from the South Asian Muslim community would love the chance to attend live netball events more regularly. The main ways to encourage women to attend include:  

  • Promotional tools that ‘community champions’ can share in local WhatsApp groups 
  • More promotion in local community centers mosques and women’s only gyms 
  • Improved family ticket offers to help engage new audiences ‘family day out’  
  • Trial dry zones (alcohol free areas) in certain parts of the venue and seating areas 
  • Consider prayer times in event schedules or promote location of prayer rooms in venues 

The feedback received was fantastic with the learnings from the focus groups set to have a long-lasting impact into the way we reach new diverse communities and develop increased opportunities moving forwards.  

Read our Belonging Commitment Statement and find out how to pledge your commitment to ensuring everyone feels they have a place to belong in netball here. You can also find out more about and complete our Conscious Inclusion Training here. 

More information about National Inclusion Week and how to get involved is available via the Inclusive Employers website.

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