England Netball and The Well HQ have announced a pioneering and powerful new partnership that will see the duo introduce an industry-leading community education programme across the sport to help everyone in netball better understand, nurture and support women and girls at every life stage, at every life age, to create sustainable change in the game.
The collaboration aims to improve the understanding of female health, life stages and bodies and how they are directly connected to enjoyment and performance in the game – empowering everyone to work with and not against the female body and mind to remain in and thrive in the sport.
The Well HQ, founded in early 2021 by former GB rower turned international coach Baz Moffat, The Digital GP Dr Bella Smith, and former English Institute of Sport scientist and Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year ‘Changemaker’ award winner Dr Emma Ross, is an expert women’s health and performance collective with a vision to change how we educate, engage and train women in sport, health and life. The collective aim to usher in a new era of best practice for active women through health and training through a female filter whilst raising standards and outcomes for women everywhere.
The partnership is an exciting first step in realising the ‘Game for Life’ destination of England Netball’s recently launched ‘Adventure Strategy – a new 10-year plan to accelerate the growth and development of the sport at all levels of the game, with the ‘Game for Life’ destination focused on enriching the approach to growing the game and ensuring that netball is a sport for all at every life stage.
From puberty, to pregnancy, to menopause and all life stages in between, these topics and sometime taboos in not just sport but also society, will be discussed, understood and celebrated to help women and girls learn more about their bodies and how to get the best out of them, all in a community where they are acknowledged for all that they are and supported to reach their full potential on and beyond the court.
Together England Netball and The Well HQ intend to lead a movement on and beyond the court to reduce the barriers to being active for females and creating an inclusive culture where everybody feels like they can belong and have a place in the game for a lifetime.
Lack of support and understanding of female life stages currently in sport and society see the partnership look to address the following:
- 64% of girls will have quit sport by the age of finishing puberty (16-17 years old)
- Data from the Youth Sports Trust shows that out of 27,867 girls recently surveyed by the charity, over a third (37%) said their periods stopped them from being active in school
- 46% of teenage girls avoid exercise due to their breasts whilst 50% of teens don’t wear a sports bra
- Wearing the right sports bra can improve performance by 4%
- Just under a third of women stop being active during menopause, yet the desire to be active is high
- 50% of post-natal women experience pelvic floor dysfunction, a barrier to return to sport
- Only 8% of personal trainers have a pre/post-natal qualification making it really hard for women to be supported well
- Up to 90% of your bone density is laid down by the age of 18 which is why it’s so critical to keep girls healthy with a menstrual cycle during their teenage years
- Women can lose up to 10% of their bone density in the five years after menopause – the great news is that impact and strength training can reduce this rate of decline
- The biggest killer of midlife women is cardiac disease – it is essential that females start moving in a way that supports their health
- Females are 5% more likely to suffer an ACL injury than males
- Well coached conditioning exercise in warm-ups can reduce injury by 45%
The partnership will come to life initially through the introduction of a ground-breaking initiative called ‘NetballHER’ which will see England Netball and The Well HQ activate ‘NetballHER champions’ from across the workforce and volunteer and coaching communities in the netball landscape, representing clubs, leagues and programmes in England.
Champions will have ‘Netball in Her Shoes’ training, via regional in-real-life and digital workshops, on the topics that span every life stage of female lives, becoming part of ‘The Well NetballHER Community’ with ongoing access to resources, to put knowledge into action within their netball environments. These champions, representing a broad age group and reflecting the rich diversity of the sport, will be the ones that drive change within their netball communities, building welcoming environments that support females at every life stage, focused on knowledge of female-specific factors of health and wellbeing to create positive experiences in the sport that live far beyond the court.
In addition to the ‘NetballHER’ initiative, The Well HQ will also support England Netball’s ongoing work to evolve the coaching and workforce ‘continuing professional development’ (CPD) introducing new approaches focused on female-specific factors of health and wellbeing. Creating a workforce that is ready, knowledgeable and confident about the potential for change too.
The partnership is far-reaching across the sport too and will see the ‘Game for Life’ destination connect with the ‘A World Leading Game’ destination of England Netball’s ‘Adventure Strategy’ to ensure that the support of women’s health at the elite level of the game reflects what is being developed with regions, counties, leagues, clubs and programmes in the grassroots game.
Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, said: “I am thrilled to announce our partnership with The Well HQ, who share our purpose in creating a true game for life and an offer for all communities that is unlocked at every life stage as we embark on our new adventure – but most importantly we both aspire to better understand, nurture and support women and girls at every life stage to help them truly belong, flourish and soar in the game.
“We are a proud female sport but know that to truly belong anywhere you don’t need to change but be accepted for who you are, and this partnership will enable us to support our women and girls across her whole life.
“Through education and normalising conversations about female health and wellbeing we can enable enjoyment in our game for all, and I am excited to see the ‘NetballHER’ initiative come to life to create a ripple of knowledge across the Netball Family to really ignite sustainable change.
“At the heart of our purpose England Netball is dedicated to creating more women and girls to play the game and take our sport to new audiences, and I am excited to see how our new partnership with The Well HQ will help us realise our goals in the coming years.”
Co-founder of The Well HQ Dr Emma Ross said: “Partnering with England Netball feels like a match made in heaven for us.
“As an organisation our mission is to get more women and girls moving, feeling happier and healthier, and we do this through supporting females with all aspects of their anatomy and physiology.
“Our partnership will help England Netball deliver real change in better supporting females in sport and in life, leading the way in understanding, educating and advocating for females at every life stage.
“Working with England Netball is so refreshing, they totally understand that to make any meaningful difference takes years of work and they’re in it for the long haul, and so are we. Together, we will reach so many girls and women across the country and help them to thrive both on and off the court and we cannot wait to get to work.”
You can find out more about The Well HQ here.