Stoke sisters Beth and Liv Harding have spoken about their love of the game that has accepted them and given them amazing opportunities.
Liv, 14, has been playing netball for three years and never found her prosthetic leg to be a barrier to getting on the court.
For Beth, 17, the welcoming environment her sister has found has seen her fall more in love with the sport, with the pair of them now helping launch EN’s new 10-year ‘Adventure Strategy’ for the game.
The sisters took part in an exciting photoshoot alongside other members of the Netball Family community and Liv, who studies at St Joseph’s College, said: “My first experience of netball was in Year Seven when I first joined the school team and it brought me so much closer with some of my friends.
“It just made the entire environment feel so much better. I just loved it.
“I’ve developed massively because at first, I tried to push myself to try and play a full game, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised I can’t do that because of my leg and I do need to take it a little bit easier.
“I’ve always enjoyed netball because it’s just that friend aspect of it – being around people that just makes the experience so much better.”
Liv explained that her netball team have a running joke with the opposition about why she has a prosthetic – that helps to create an inclusive and accepting environment.
She added: “With my prosthetic leg, I find it funny because we’ll see the other team look at my leg and then go: ‘what happened to her leg?’
“And I have said to them if anyone says that, just tell them it was bitten off by a shark – it’s just like a joke that we have and then the other team will look so confused.
“But, they’re all so lovely, even opposing teams – they all accept my leg and accept me.”
For older sister Beth, who plays with Liv at Newcastle Town Netball Club, netball has seen her travel around the world to Barbados but also to discover her competitive side.
“I just like the idea of playing a team sport – I like the girls that I play with,” Beth said.
“Even though it’s changed over time, I’ve always liked the girls that I’ve played with during the six years I’ve been there.
“I think playing matches has helped me become a more resilient person – to be able to play the match and have some aggression and be able to win the match.
“And making new friends with the teams as well has helped with my confidence a lot.”
As part of the launch of the new 10-year ‘Adventure Strategy’ for the game, Liv and Beth were part of a photoshoot alongside the likes of Vitality Roses captain Serena Guthrie and young volunteer and coach India Nellist.
And Beth said: “It’s been really nice to meet all of these people who play netball of different ages and play different roles in the sport.
“It has also been nice to be able to connect to people who share the same interest in netball as me.
“I’m proud to play netball because netball accepts everyone, like my sister with having a prosthetic leg. They haven’t said you can’t play netball – they’ve adapted and adjusted to allow her to play.
“I can see netball growing hugely from the new ‘Adventure Strategy’ and the ambitions to take the game to new and exciting places to reach new audiences.
“I am sure the launch and the rebrand will inspire more people to get involved in netball and more people will start to want to play, which is really exciting.”
Find out more about playing netball, including ParaNetball and how we’ll be testing and piloting netball for women with cerebral palsy, dwarfism and amputees over the coming months.