England Netball grassroots participation

Since England’s gold medal success at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 in netball, the sport has enjoyed increased interest and growing participation figures, with the Active Lives Adult Survey published yesterday revealing that a whopping 319,400 adults now play netball fortnightly.

The Active Lives Adult Survey, conducted by Sport England, is the most comprehensive snapshot of activity levels among adults aged 16 and over in England, it also explores some of the wider benefits of sport and physical activity, such as mental wellbeing.

Whilst the overall number of people participating in team sports has not increased in the last year, netball has bucked the trend and seen a growth in popularity with 50,200 more people taking part from May 2018 – May 2019 compared to the year prior.

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This significant increase in women playing netball comes as part of an exciting 2018/19 for England Netball, with the Vitality Roses making history in April 2018 by winning gold at the Commonwealth Games for the first time.

Fran Connolly, Director of Development at England Netball, said: “These statistics show that elite success really does drive participation. 2018 is a year that stands out in our memories because of the moment the Vitality Roses clinched the title in the Gold Coast. We have seen a huge surge in interest since that tournament with international media exposure, new investment and partnerships, and an increase in participants across our variety of programmes.

“This data shows that the Vitality Roses inspired a nation after the Commonwealth Games, and the growth doesn’t seem to be slowing. Since the recent Vitality Netball World Cup in July, more than 160,000 Brits started playing netball or more netball as a result according to a survey conducted by YouGov, which is fantastic.”

The latest Active Lives Adult Survey has also recorded the highest ever levels of activity, with 1 million more people physically active than when the survey began. This takes the total number of active people (those doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week) up to 28.6 million.

Whilst the gender gap in those participating in sport and physical activity remains, with men more active than women, the gap is clearly narrowing. There has been a growth of 254,000 more active women in the last 12 months, plus 142,000 fewer inactive women over the last 12 months.

There has also been a significant increase in those aged 55-74 playing netball on a fortnightly basis, despite the Active Live Adult Survey showing that 27% of people in this age category are inactive.

Fran added: “We are delighted to see that more women are getting active as we are always working incredibly hard to get as many women and girls on a netball court as possible. We have worked tirelessly to reduce the amount of inactive women by introducing a form of the game for everyone, from our Bee Netball programme for under 11s to Walking Netball for those that want a slower version of the game, there truly is something for all ages and abilities.

“We hope that more people hit a court near them going forward as we have seen first-hand the benefits this sport can have on people’s mental and physical wellbeing. We’re sure that participation will continue to grow as we head into another exciting year for the Vitality Roses and this sport.”

England will be playing on home soil for the first time since they won bronze at the Vitality Netball World Cup earlier this year, as part of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup which takes place in January 2020 in Nottingham, Birmingham and then London. Tickets can now be purchased via the England Netball website.

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