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Netballer front and centre of new initiative

Posted onPosted on 27th Jul

A SOUTHWELL primary school teacher says England Netball’s Back to Netball programme reignited her love for the sport — even encouraging her to take her mum to training.

Ibby Maloney, 36, is a secondary school English teacher who plays for Southwell Swifts, but she had become alienated from netball as a child because of the competitive nature of school and university sport.

Back to Netball is a campaign run by England Netball that reintroduces women to netball, aiming to attract players of all ages and abilities back to the game by running inclusive sessions across the country.

And Maloney, one of more than three million UK women who play netball each year, said: “I absolute loved it. I play with my mum, she’s 62 so we both go to Back to Netball together.

“It’s definitely developed my confidence without a doubt, I feel so much happier, I actually play four times a week now and the feeling when you’ve played a game is really exhilarating, energising, and thrilling.

“I’ve met women of all different ages, different abilities and different backgrounds, so I feel like I’ve made some lifelong friends who I wouldn’t have come into contact with any other way.”

New research shows that almost nine in ten (88 per cent) members of the netball family say the sport gives them a sense of belonging, with 73 per cent reckoning it makes them feel empowered.

Maloney fell out of love with netball during the transition from primary to secondary school, where she went from a class of ten to one of 250.

She attempted to return to the sport at university but felt there was a similar culture there, however, and she finally found a place to play after being introduced to Back to Netball.

She added: “I think that our netball development community coach Ruth Pickthorn has incredible enthusiasm. It’s beyond infectious.

“She creates such a comfortable atmosphere. It’s so supportive and completely inclusive, if anybody did make a mistake we’d just fall about laughing and then move on!

“It’s so nice not to feel intimidated on court or embarrassed about a dodgy pass or footwork or being offside. It’s just absolutely brilliant.”

For more information about how to get involved in participation programmes such as Walking Netball or Back to Netball, contact your regional Netball Development Officer (NDO). There’s something for everyone no matter what your age or ability, go to https://www.englandnetball.co.uk/support/regions/