#wedNEWSday – Fran Connolly announced as new CEO for England Netball

England Netball is delighted to announce that Fran Connolly has been appointed as new Chief Executive Officer to lead England Netball into an exciting new era.

Fran succeeds Joanna Adams, who announced she would be stepping down from the role in August 2019.

Joining England Netball in 2001, Fran has grown within the organisation, being appointed as Director of Development in 2010 and subsequently leading on the phenomenal growth in participation the sport has seen over the last nine years. She has held a number of roles within the organisation and overseen a broad spectrum of areas including participation, capital investment, governance, competition and events, coaching, officiating, volunteering, talent and insight.

Colin Povey, England Netball Chair, commented on the new appointment: “We partnered with Executives in Sport Group who undertook a wide-ranging international recruitment process that attracted extremely high levels of interest and generated an exceptionally strong field of candidates so it gives me great pleasure that the best candidate for the role was someone from within the organisation.

“Through the selection process Fran’s breadth and depth of knowledge across all aspects of the sport shone through. She has a real passion for women’s sport and netball in particular. In the view of the Nominations Committee, Fran was the standout candidate.

“She’s been one of the most influential Development Directors in British sport over the past decade, having transformed the participation landscape with the introduction of pioneering initiatives, securing netball’s position as the largest female team sport.

“I have every confidence that Fran will inspire netballers everywhere as well as our own members of staff and lead England Netball into a thrilling new phase of development.”

During her tenure, Connolly’s contribution has to date included: securing substantial investment from new commercial partners and the main government funding agencies, pioneering the Participant-Centred Approach, driving the development of England Netball’s highly successful ‘Your Game Your Way’ strategy, 10 years of consistent and unparalleled growth in participation and membership, developing industry leading partnerships with organisations such as the Women’s Institute and introducing market leading programmes such as Back to Netball, Walking Netball and the new U11 product Bee Netball.

Connolly’s innovative approach has led to record-breaking participation figures, across all audiences – players, volunteers, coaches, officials and fans. Leading on the Vitality Netball World Cup legacy strategy, she successfully harnessed the impact of both the Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup to inspire a nation of new netballers. 130,700 women started playing netball or more netball following the 2018 Commonwealth Games and this was bettered this year with an incredible 160,000 women starting or playing more after the Netball World Cup.

Through her leadership and influence netball has supported the overall growth of women’s sport, helping to address the gender inequality gap and inactivity levels in traditionally hard to reach population groups.

She will assume the role as an already trusted and respected face within the sector, having built established relationships with key partners that have undoubtedly contributed to the rising reach and profile of the sport.

Speaking about her new appointment, Fran said: “I’m thrilled and feel hugely privileged to be taking on the role at this exciting time. As a sport we’ve been on an incredible journey and have experienced remarkable success over recent years at every level from our participation programmes to the Vitality Roses. However, I truly believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of the potential that netball has.”

“The magic moments that were created on the Gold Coast and earlier this year at the World Cup in Liverpool captured the attention of the nation and united the Netball Family – it is this movement that I want to ensure we continue to nurture and grow as we move in to an exciting next chapter.”

“As a sport we are, and will continue to be extremely ambitious, we constantly strive to be the trailblazers in women’s sport and seek out innovative approaches to growing our great game. We must continue to work hard to increase the visibility of the sport, extend our reach to new audiences both on and off the court and continue to create the types of experiences that transform the lives of women and girls across the country.”

If you would like to be featured as our wedNEWSday story then please send your good news story, plus a photo, to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – U14 & U16 seeding tournament a great success

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles. Make sure you check out our website each week to keep up to date and if you have a great story let us know using the details below!

Well what a fabulous and enriching two Sundays of netball at the South West U14 and U16 Regional Seeding events, held at Paignton Academy.

Both age groups produced some outstanding netball, showing maturity in their play and skill level way beyond their ages, proving the South West has a great future reflected in the talent on the netball court. All girls were a credit to their dedicated team coaches and managers, who give unstintingly of their time.

This commitment was replicated both on and off the court, from umpires and volunteers alike. Frankie, Hannah, Emily and Jess, from Teignbridge Titans, oversaw the timing and results table. Debbie Ashworth should be congratulated for resourcing a full complement of umpires, under very difficult circumstances. Also, huge thanks must go to Linda Dyer and Jean Davies for their superb efficiency in organising both events and the subsequent Regional League Divisions one and two fixtures.

So once again congratulations to all players and teams as they go forwards to their respective leagues, such exciting times ahead. I look forward to seeing the play offs at the end of the season.

Written Denise May MBE, President Netball South West

If you would like to be featured as our wedNEWSday story then please send your good news story, plus a photo, to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – The first Women’s Institute Walking Netball Festival has taken place!

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles. Make sure you check out our website each week to keep up to date and if you have a great story let us know using the details below!

On Saturday 12th October, the first Women’s Institute walking netball festival took place in Paignton. The festival saw 6 WI’s from across the South West (Child Okeford, Sturminster Marshall, Wellington, Beaches & Cream, Bridgwater and Chippenham) take part in the Round Robin tournament throughout the day playing 6 games each.

Chippenham Lasses

There were 71 women in attendance for the event. It was great to see so many women taking part. Some of the women made a weekend of it by taking up the offer of booking into a hotel package that had been organised by the Devon Netball Development Officer, Jenny Kelly. This meant that they were able to network with other WI’s from around the region while having a healthy rivalry on court. They came kitted out ready to support their teams with a mascot (Blimey), pom poms and a song!

Beaches and Cream WI

The games started without a hitch, with 4 teams taking to the court to get the festival underway. Alongside the games, there were some netball challenges for all to take part in and a guess the flower competition with some small prizes for the winners. A cream tea lunch was also provided to keep the energy up going into the final round of the games.

Sturminster Marshall

Umpires from Devon and the Dorset Netball Development Officer, Karen came to provide the officiating for the event and they proved to be invaluable to the standard and safety of the games. A big thank you for giving up your time to umpire. Jenny (Devon NDO) even managed to get the event on the local radio station, BBC Devon with Linda from Wellington WI being interviewed about WI, walking netball and the event.

Bridgwater Firecrackers WI

Well done to all teams that took part, the event was a huge success with Child Okeford WI being crowned the winners of the tournament (Their mascot Blimey brought the luck with him). The runners up of the event was another Dorset team called Sturminster Marshall, with only 1 point between first and second place it was highly contested. Gaynor from Child Okeford said ‘We had such a great day and to come away with cup was such a surprise and testament to my teams hard work, modesty  and enthusiasm’.

Child Okeford WI

3rd Place – Beaches & Cream WI (Cornwall)
4th Place – Chippenham Lasses 1 (Wiltshire)
5th Place – Bridgwater Firecrackers (Somerset)
6th Place – Wellington WI (Somerset)
7th Place – Chippenham Lasses 2 (Wiltshire)

Wellington WI

A massive well done and thank you to the England Netball Staff, Karen Peaty (Dorset NDO), Kerry Brooks (Avon & Wiltshire NDO) Jenny Kelly (Devon NDO), & Laura Woodruff (South West Regional Coordinator) for hosting a great first event for the WI’s in the South West. A huge thanks to the England Netball South West team for their help in making the event happen.

If you would like to be featured as our wedNEWSday story then please send your good news story, plus a photo, to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – South West Netballer gives her volunteer experience

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles. Make sure you check out our website each week to keep up to date and if you have a great story let us know using the details below!

Can you believe the Netball World Cup was 3 month ago? A South West Netballer, Elaine Rickard who volunteered her time as a Pivoteer at the event shares her story below.

Elaine said ‘So I’m back home and back to reality after a fantastic week and a half in Liverpool for the Netball World Cup. I spent my time as a Pivoteer mainly in backstage areas but I managed to get plenty of up close court side sneaky peeks of all the netball being played.

It was a good way to be involved and I got some great interactions with all of the teams. New Zealand were definitely the friendliest and most polite so if England had to miss out, I’m glad it was to them. And yes, Maria Folau really is that beautiful in real life! I was just as much in awe of the umpires as I was the players, and so was also quietly pleased to see an English Team White for the final. It may be over now, but I’m already thinking about how I can get to Cape Town for the next World Cup, or there’s always Commonwealth Games in Birmingham before then…’

Thank you for sharing your story and great to see you umpiring in the South West Regional League. We can’t wait to see where your volunteering journey takes you next.

If you would like to be featured as our wedNEWSday story then please send your good news story, plus a photo, to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#WedNEWSday – How the Vitality Netball World Cup captured the nation’s hearts and inspired 160,000 women to take to the court

Less than three months ago Liverpool became home to the Vitality Netball World Cup, which saw 16 of the world’s best teams fight to be named world champions across 10 thrilling days of on court action.

The tournament, which concluded with the Vitality Roses; England’s elite netball team, claiming bronze, helped England Netball create a lasting legacy for the sport in the UK and inspired thousands to watch, play and participate in netball.

A record breaking 112,000 tickets were purchased for the Vitality Netball World Cup, with all England games being a complete sell out and 6.07 million Brits saying they ‘followed or attended’ the event according to a survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of England Netball.

England Netball has calculated, using YouGov survey data, that a staggering 160,000 adult women who followed the tournament were inspired by the Vitality Netball World Cup to start playing netball or more netball.

In addition, England Netball calculates that 20.1 million adults said they were proud that England had hosted the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, and 5.1 million people that followed the event agreed that the Vitality Roses are an inspiration to all girls. Plus, 26.6 million Brits said they would recommend netball to their daughters (real or imagined), this is an increase of 2.5 million people compared with last year.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 21/07/2019 – Netball – Vitality Netball World Cup 2019, Bronze Medal Match – England v South Africa – M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England – England fans.

Netball fans came out in force to support the Vitality Roses during the tournament, not just at the arena but in the Rose Garden; the fan park based in Liverpool ONE. Liverpool City Council estimated that a whopping 44,000 people visited the Rose Garden during the tournament to enjoy its array of activities hosted by a number of England Netball’s partners, such as Vitality, Jaffa, the British Army and Red Bull, as well as to watch the games live on a huge outdoor screen.

After the captivating event came to an end, England Netball noted a 1000% increase in visits to its online netball session finder compared to two weeks prior, over 900 new school registrations for its U11 Bee Netball programme and 71% of clubs saying they had more people showing an interest in playing than before the tournament according to England Netball’s Big Netball Conversation survey. England Netball’s social media channels also had a surge in followers, with its Instagram seeing a 28% increase in followers throughout the tournament. Plus, the sport received more than 8200 items of coverage, which on average reached 96.4m people and had a value of £18.22m according to England Netball’s media monitoring service.

Joanna Adams, who held the position of CEO of England Netball during the tournament before announcing her departure from the organisation after 10 years, said: “The Vitality Netball World Cup was an absolute whirlwind and a huge success. It was the best sold Netball World Cup to date and we had 9900 people register their interest to volunteer at the tournament, plus extensive press coverage across the 10 days.

“It seemed as though everyone was talking about netball during that time and the buzz around Liverpool was spine-tingling. Whilst the Vitality Roses didn’t get the colour they were gunning for, they truly had the backing of the nation during every game and inspired many to have a go at the sport.

“To see a sea of red and white filling the arena during every England game will be a memory that stays with me forever. To the Netball World Cup team, all the volunteers, athletes, umpires, partners, fans and everyone else who played a part, thank you for making this a phenomenal success and for putting netball in the limelight once again following last year’s gold medal success at the Commonwealth Games.”

Off the back of what was a thrilling summer of women’s sport, in a survey of over 4000 spectators of the event conducted by UK Sport; the Government’s major events agency, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, it was found that 97% of respondents said they felt the Vitality Netball World Cup raised the overall profile of women’s sport in the UK. 61% of those surveyed said they felt happier than normal when attending the event.

Commenting on the research, Simon Morton, COO of UK Sport, which invested National Lottery funding into the event, said: “We believe world class sport has the power to inspire the nation, so it’s wonderful to therefore see the Vitality Netball World Cup have a meaningful positive impact on a significant number of the fans.

“A major part of our strategy, backed by the Government and National Lottery, is to bring more of the world’s most prestigious sports events to the UK. Sport has a unique opportunity to drive positive change, which has been demonstrated in netball, and we will continue to work in partnership to reap the benefits of hosting major events for the nation.”

Fans will be able to see the Vitality Roses on home soil for the first time since the Vitality Netball World Cup in January 2020 as part of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup, which will see them take on New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica. Tickets can be purchased now via the England Netball website.