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

In this weeks #wedNEWSday story, we hear from Anna at Wimborne Aquarians, Dorset and how they are keeping up the team morale!

When Boris Johnson announced on 4th January that the country was going into another lockdown, we knew it was going to be tough for our junior players. Having intensely trained in the autumn term for regional qualification, the players were looking forward to the regional leagues starting in the New Year. The Prime Minister’s announcement meant all of our plans were put on hold indefinitely.

We knew that Lockdown 3.0 would be harder than before, because of the dark evenings and winter weather conditions. We wanted to keep our younger players motivated and connected, as well as promoting their physical and mental wellbeing.

Knowing that the girls would be facing a return to online learning, with long periods of screen time and sitting at a desk, we decided to create a 6 Week Lockdown Fitness Challenge. Our aim was to encourage them to get outdoors in the fresh air and to incorporate exercise into their everyday routines.

Each player received a Lockdown Challenge package in the post, which included their own set of Get Fit cards, a booklet outlining the challenge targets and checklists to keep track of their exercise. While some of the challenge targets are prescriptive, such as their weekly online HIIT sessions with their coaches, the overarching theme is for the players to be taking responsibility for their fitness and to be adaptable in their approach. The emphasis is on any physical activity being worthwhile, whether that’s going on a run, a bike ride or walking the dog!

Running alongside the challenge, we have also encouraged the players to supplement their activities by accessing online netball workshops being offered by other providers. Both players and coaches are enjoying the twilight sessions being offered by Hartpury College and are looking forward to the positional workshops being run by Worcester Uni Netball later this month.

We are now over half-way through the challenge, and we have been so impressed with how the players have embraced the whole idea and have committed themselves to their training programmes. The list of physical activities they have undertaken is long and varied from Peloton sessions to yoga. As well as targets set by the coaches, the players have also set their own goals. For example, one of our U14 player’s, Poppy, set herself the challenge of running a marathon in a week, which she achieved despite some inclement weather conditions! We are enormously proud of all the girls.

As we head into the final few weeks of the challenge, we are hoping that it won’t be too long before we will be back together training. We know the biggest thing the girls have missed is the camaraderie of being with their teammates and throwing a ball around on court!

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)