The 2015 school netball season has just started, but is this a case of ‘same old, same old’? Not at all, says Netball Wellington Centre (NWC)’s general manager Sue Geale, in fact it’s the complete opposite.
Baby boomers’ netball and a men’s netball league are just two of the creative ideas being bounced around by the team at NWC. Netball participation rates are growing and to capitalise on this Sue and her team are checking they have something on offer for every section of the community.
“Gone are the days of thinking netball is a female winter sport,” says Sue. “We’re an all year, all comers sport and we want to keep it that way.”
NWC’s playing membership hit a high of 7,956 in 2014, making it the third biggest netball centre in the country. Sue puts this down to the wide range of programmes, competitions and services on offer. NZCT funding has allowed the centre to employ the right staff to organise and deliver these offerings.
“We have so many balls in the air, pardon the pun, it can be quite a juggle,” says Sue. “But the hard work by the players, coaches and staff is certainly paying off. We’re achieving incredible results on many fronts.
“Four local players have just been selected for the National Secondary School’s team and two others for the Maori Secondary School team. That’s a first for our centre and demonstrates the value of our representatives (reps) programme,” she says. “A lot of work has gone into this area, to ensure our most promising players are getting the training and support they need. This, along with the girls’ hunger to achieve, has delivered great results which shows our efforts have been well placed.
“We’re also very excited to be rolling out the new ANZ FutureFerns programme for our youngest players. This programme is designed to keep children aged five to seven years interested by offering a fun, fast, smaller game (four aside for under sevens and five aside for seven year olds) that develops key netball skills. The programme, endorsed by Netball New Zealand, will be extended to eight year olds in 2016.”
As well as the players, NWC puts a lot of effort into ensuring the fundamental roles of umpire, coach and team manager work well. The centre runs a wide range of coaching sessions for umpires and coaches at various stages of experience.