#wedNEWSday – Lets Stay Connected

Who are TJ Saracens & what have they being doing?

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

So just a bit of background on TJ Saracens. They are a club based in Bristol that has 3 senior teams and 3/4 junior teams (depending on number of players). The seniors play in the Avon Netball League (Div 6 and Div 2) and regional league 3. 

Lucy gave us an up date on what they have been doing throughout lockdown. ‘Throughout lockdown we made sure players had every opportunity to stay in touch with each other. This is made easier with our club whatsapp group. We started with weekly zoom quiz nights / games nights in place of training which gave us all a good laugh. We have a very good social secretary who organised some really fun evenings. We also put together a team video with the illusion of passing the ball to each other.

‘When Boris first allowed groups of 6 to meet outside we had small group meet ups and started casual fitness sessions (not official club pre-season). This was more for social purposes in the nice weather.’

‘Pre-season officially started last week (Tuesday 21st July). We are following all England Netball guidance and therefore did not use any netball equipment. Instead we used the session for fitness, including cardio – which involved quick footwork and sprint drills, and strength and conditioning – which focused on building muscle to support our joints. Ultimately, we want to be prepared for whenever the season starts and reduce the risk of injury when returning to play.’

‘The club is currently inviting new players to come along to pre-season in advance of trials. This gives people the chance to get to know current players and get a feel for the club. In addition, we are also in the process of advertising for a new coach for our regional and div 2 teams as our current coach would like to focus more on playing in the regional team.’

‘Overall, we are all very excited about being able to get back together and are eagerly anticipating the return to competitive netball. We have high hopes for the upcoming season and feel like early preparations are key!’

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – Lets Stay Connected

Axe Vale Coaches sore on Tik Tok!

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

Last week the South West Regional Co-ordinator Laura caught up with Axe Vale Coach Sarah, who had been in contact about their steady progress towards getting back to netball.

Axe Vale Netball Club has been overwhelmed by the response to the netball fitness sessions that they have started to run. Over the next four weeks, they are delivering 24 bubbles per week to more than 100 girls and ladies from East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset.

Sarah said: ‘It is a busy time at Axe Vale Netball Club with 16 bubbles of netball fitness training for our juniors and four for our adults on the outdoor courts at Axminster.

Next week we start four bubbles in Chard with the launch of Axe Vale Netball Club – Somerset. The amazing response from the 100 juniors and 20 adults just shows how important netball is in our lives. Being highly organised when delivering the bubbles is essential!

Making sure that we get the right bubbles to the right place at the right time to ensure staggered starts/finishes, with enough time to clean equipment thoroughly in between, has been a challenge. The weather has held off so far so that is one less thing to worry about.’

They have been doing different types of training while in the bubbles, which has meant they have had to buy a lot of new equipment to keep sharing down to a minimum. Sarah said the club ‘now has a mountain of ladders, cones and hurdles – and no sports centre to store them in! A huge shoutout to Cllrs Ian Hall, Iain Chubb, The Rotary Club – Axminster and Somerset Activity and Sport Partnership for financial support for these sessions.’

She goes on to explain what they do at the sessions. ‘After a warm-up, we have done age and ability-appropriate netball circuits for the first half of the session, and in the second half we have been able to do more game-specific drills as we have access to half a netball court for each bubble. Even with the need to maintain a strict 2m distance, we have found that there is plenty that we can do – you just need to be inventive. We always end with a competition between bubbles, which is always very popular. This week we had a shooting competition and next week it will be passing accuracy.’

They have been blown away by the positive feedback from these sessions. Many of the girls have not socialised since lockdown started in March; sometimes this is due to their rural location and in other cases it is because of a lack of confidence. The feedback is that parents have welcomed the opportunity for their children/teenagers to socialise in a structured and socially distanced environment that is also contributing to improving their fitness.

Going through this successful process, Sarah has found the importance of being highly organised. Keep everything fun, play music – and if you want to raise a smile, get the coaches to do a Tik Tok video!

Thank you for the update Sarah and it’s great to see the club doing so well.

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – World Cup Throwback

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

Can you believe the Netball World Cup was a year ago? The South West Team headed up to work at the fan park and what an amazing experience it was, we reminisced about it today. We caught up with two fans who travelled from Cornwall and Devon retrospectively to take in the Netball World Cup.

My memories of NWC 2019 – By Lucy Higgins, Cornwall NDO.

‘It started on April 13 2018. I was added to a Whatsapp group, ‘NWC Liverpool 2019’ with some of my teammates from my old netball club in London (shout-out to Blackheath Wanderers!) and one of my best friends from my hometown club (Penzance Netball Club), who I’d played with since the age of six. Almost three months before tickets went on sale, we were prepped and ready to start saving and planning for our first Netball World Cup together. A plan was formed, Doodles were made, broadband speed was tested, and by the time ticket-buying day rolled around, we had a team of people… it was like Glastonbury but more exciting, with more netball puns and with arguably much more at stake! By 10.01am, we had 24 tickets for nine of us, spanning play-offs, the semi-final and the final. The stage was set.

A year and approximately 45,239 Whatsapp messages later, and we all arrived in Liverpool. Immediately, the atmosphere was electric. I’d previously lived in the city and knew how well Liverpool could put on a show, and it didn’t disappoint! I’d been lucky enough to be living in Sydney in 2015 so had been to the final of the NWC, watching Australia beat New Zealand. But the Netball World Cup in Liverpool was like nothing I have ever experienced.

Our first night together, we sat in the lounge of our Airbnb, excitedly talking about the next day’s games. I knew some of the girls really well, had a met a couple of others, and some I’d never met before, but that’s the beauty of netball – it’s a great leveller and brings people together seamlessly. By the end of the evening, we were firm friends, and by the end of the weekend we were bound together, having ridden the crushing low of the England v NZ semi-final and the impressive, awe-inspiring and thoroughly entertaining highs of the bronze medal match against South Africa. Some of my highlights included being dressed as Roses (of course!), and hearing the crowd shouting ‘We want Dunn!’ – hearing the roar when she came on court was like almost nothing I’ve heard before, reminiscent only of the crowds at the London Olympics.

For me, the Netball World Cup was a celebration of all my very favourite things about netball. It brought together people from all over the world, who had one common interest. It was like being at a festival, where everyone likes the same thing as you, and the atmosphere is full of anticipation, excitement and respect for the beautiful game. One amazing thing about the NWC was being able to actually see the players! Meeting Sam Wallace (star GS for Trinidad & Tobago and NSW Swifts, and a personal favourite player of mine) in Primark really stood out for me. The players weren’t hidden away backstage or in a VIP area like they would be at a festival – they were out and about, making the most of their trip to Liverpool, chatting to fans, shopping, getting coffees, and giving us all little ‘pinch myself’ moments. Like I said, netball is a great leveller.

I saw the excitement of young girls at their first international match who had well and truly got the netball bug. I saw die-hard stalwarts of the game in tears with joy or sadness, so wrapped up in the emotions of each pass. I saw people dancing, high-fiving, cheering and celebrating, happy just to be surrounded by other like-minded people. I bumped into women I’d played with at clubs in Cardiff and Liverpool, all bound together by the love of the sport. I chatted to people from all over the world, having a really in-depth chat with an Aussie woman straight after the final about the positional changes. We were all netball nerds and, for 10 days, we were in paradise.

And the Whatsapp group? It’s been renamed NWC Capetown 2023, and the saving, planning and excitement has already begun’

As we look back at memories from the Netball World Cup 2019, Jenny Kelly Devon NDO recounts her 470 mile round trip to watch the England Semi Final.

‘Thinking back to this time last year, I had a great 3 days with the South West team working at the Fan Park. Although exhausting it was great fun speaking to people, giving information about netball sessions, facilitating game play on the portable court and welcoming national teams for their fan park signings.

I hadn’t been able to get any match tickets in the run up to the event so I was really excited when news came up of some tickets available for the Semi Final between England and New Zealand! I jumped at the chance to go, I just had one small problem my daughter was all the way down in Devon. So I finished work in Liverpool on the Thursday and travelled back to the South West with the rest of the team. Friday after Sian finished school for the day we headed back up the motorway finally arriving back in Liverpool around 11pm ready for the match on Saturday. I’ll never forget I had scheduled a radio interview with my local BBC station on the Saturday morning and I was outside the England Roses hotel, on the phone, live on the radio when the Roses left to head to the arena. The screaming and cheering was deafening but it really got across how excited all the England fans were.

It was fantastic to be in the arena, the atmosphere was electric and the game so nail-biting. We had a fabulous time even though the Roses lost it was great to have been there and well worth the hours of driving. We loved it so much we headed to Nottingham earlier this year to watch the rematch at the nations cup.

I truly loved every part of being involved with the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, as staff , adhoc reporter and fan!’

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – Lets Stay Connected

Pewsey Netball Club expand club in lockdown

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

Pewsey Netball Club have three teams. Currently two play in the Moonraker League based in Devizes (division 1 & 4) and our third team played regular friendlies against local clubs. We’re hoping to enter all three teams in Moonraker league when the season is able to start. As well as competitive netball we also offer social netball, through pay and play. 

As soon as lockdown hit and training stopped they started a weekly quiz. Wednesdays were still netball night for Pewsey Netball. Members took it in turns to host the quiz and rounds varied hugely, from netball to Disney to famous faces, alcohol, geography and so much more. Also playing musical bingo and scattergories. 

‘Throughout lockdown we’ve been undertaking various challenges. Firstly, it was the squat challenge which saw us doing 200 squats per day by the end. Next came the ab challenge, by the end it was a 2 minute plank, 120 sit ups, 190 crunches and 65 leg raises. That was a killer! All three of our teams have whatsapp groups so we’re regularly in contact encouraging each other. 

Then along came the Tik Tok phase which we had to join in. Members videos were collated into one, the result was brilliant. One member got so involved she accidentally broke her phone while throwing the ball to her boyfriend who was recording it! 

We are now finally able to get back on court. We started with 3 sessions of 5 players plus our wonderful coach, Trudie. Despite not being able to do drills or throw balls to each other there is so much we can do. We’ve done netball circuits, fitness and many footwork drills. Now following amended guidelines we’ve been able to increase to sessions of 5 and 6 players. The groups work at opposite ends of the court maintaining 2m distance at all times. So far the sessions have been a huge success, we’ve welcomed 4 new ladies and we now have a waiting list! We’re so looking forward to when we can all train together again.’

Thank you to Emily, Advertising & Recruitment Sec for the club, giving us an insight into how the club is keeping in contact during the pandemic.

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)

#wedNEWSday – Lets Stay Connected

Dart Netball Club

Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

This week we’ve heard from a Devon club about how they have stayed connected during a time when they couldn’t get on court, and how they’re training now. With lots of top tips for those starting to think about small group sessions, have a watch of the video to hear more from chairwoman and coach of Dart Netball Club, Charlie Haigh.

Dart Netball Club, based in Torbay, quickly took to Zoom when they realised they wouldn’t be able to train. “We wanted to keep the girls as engaged as possible, and the adults too,” says Charlie, who talks through the activities with Devon Netball Development Officer, Jenny Kelly. 

“We’ve used Zoom training a lot, we’ve put together a series of activities throughout the week for different age groups. We do have a couple of coaches who are qualified personal trainers as well.”

Explaining how the girls really loved staying connected with each other, she reveals that the club even got to a point where the U16s and U14s were doing 2-3 sessions a week, of fitness and ball handling.

And wanting to ensure a balanced approach, Charlie used her experience in yoga and pilates to run some online flexibility and mobility classes too. “It was really good fun!” she says.

Now, they’ve moved onto implementing the new guidance, and have started small group sessions on a nearby field.

“I’ll be honest with you, the first week we were really nervous,” says Charlie. “But actually, as the weeks have gone by, the girls have got more comfortable and they really understand social distancing.”

Encouraging the girls to being their own netball, and using mainly crazy catches, it means they’re not sharing equipment but are still getting lots of ball handling practice. “The girls have absolutely loved it. If you give them clear guidance, it really does work.”

As well as not sharing balls, using crazy catches and sanitising equipment, Charlie also recommends doing different sessions on different evenings if possible, and try to keep them in the same training groups. “Working with the same people each week has helped parents feel more confident [about not mixing with too many people] too,” says Charlie.

“It’s worked really well and the feedback from parents has been really good. It’s also been about socialising and seeing their friends – as much as they have missed the sport, they’ve missed the social element too.”

Well done to Dart Netball Club for being so proactive! Head over to our social media channels to watch the video for the full interview and to get more top tips and ideas for returning to small session training.

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)