Netball ACT’s First Representative Team For All-Abilities Athletes
It has been the definition of a community effort, getting a state team together for the first time, more so when the team is the first representative team for all-abilities athletes. The willingness and passion of an organisation that believes inclusion is paramount to the growth of the sport for the benefit of the community.
For Netball ACT, 2019 was marked as the year that the member organization will develop and implement an all-abilities strategy that would unlock the pathway for inclusion at a representative level. The One Netball Marie Little Shield tournament was the goal that lay ahead.
For many Netball is a new sport, in most cases due to perceived barriers to participation. The inclusion program developed by Netball ACT removed many of these, delivering multiple “come and try” events across the city and tapping into the District Association programs to create a cohesive pathway and program delivery that would benefit the athletes involved and help to integrate new players. Over 78% of participants in the events were new to the sport of Netball.
Nicole Bowles, Manager of Sport says that the 2019 program has been an important step forward for the organisation;
“This will be the first time ACT have entered a team into the Marie Little Shield competition since its inception in 2013 and we are excited and proud to be able to provide this opportunity to the athletes, coaches and umpire”.
Bowles goes on to add, “Netball ACT is committed to providing opportunities for all members of our community to play netball and represent the ACT in a National competition, anyone, regardless of background or ability, is welcome in netball. The ACT Marie Little Shield team is only the starting point for Netball ACT with regards to broader community participation programs and engagement within the Canberra region.”
With the One Netball Marie Little Shield a matter of weeks away the ACT state team have been focused on their training and developing teamwork ahead of the October 14th tournament. All part of the exciting process of State Team preparation. This was also celebrated at the State Team presentation, where the members of the inaugural team were presented with their player kit.
The grant made available by The Confident Girls Foundation has been instrumental in allowing the program to go ahead, funding has been utilised to support athletes training and travel to the competition along with the partial support of parents and carers. Netball ACT were also able to partner with Struddys who have provided all the state teams apparel as part of a community sponsorship.
Louise Bilston, President of Netball ACT is enthusiastic about NACT participating in the Marie Little Shield for the first time, building on the other inclusion projects being developed and opened up across netball in the ACT;
“we are extremely proud of the opportunity that this provides to our athletes and officials and what it signifies for our sport to offer inclusive pathways on the national stage for all our members. This builds on the foundations and opportunities we already have in netball for women 16 years and older to compete at a national level. Athletes from this team will inspire others within our community to participate in our wonderful game.”