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.”
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