Why men should get on the netball court!
Today will hold the first match in the international grudge series between England and Australia's netball teams, hosted at Bath University. This event is already sold out, with netball fans lining up to watch the world champions play the host nation. But what about the men's game?
Netball emerged in the early 20th century around the same time as basketball was being developed - this can be thought of as the foundation of the gender divide which still has a hold on modern day netball.
Image of early 20th Century netball game in Queensland - the game has changed a lot since then, but have attitudes changed with the times?
Both netball and basketball are fast paced, tactical and non-contact sports, the general perception of basketball is that it's much more aggressive sport than netball.
The two sports were developed around the same time, basketball gaining rapid popularity (especially in the US) whilst netball gained popularity more in Commonwealth regions such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
So why is it is now commonplace to see women on the basketball court and yet men still shy away from stepping onto a netball court?
In some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, netball is taught to all students at school up to the age of around 12 or 13. Mixed and men's teams are far more common though there is a great decline in the numbers of players once it is taken out of the school curriculum. The skills needed to play netball are similar to other ball sports; you need agility, power, speed and spacial awareness to be a good netball player. These are all transferrable skills - there's a reason why many grass roots and professional athletes consider themselves all-rounders, take Tranter Keyes for example: Australian Football League player turns national netball player in 2 years!
There are men's national teams in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and in the UK, so the sport is gaining popularity as it enters the international stage. There were huge campaigns to include netball in the Olympics and perhaps an increase in participation from both men and women could be the change needed to get into the Games.
Here on Tribesports, we're fortunate enough to have an Australian Men's Netball player, Brent P, who has helped us shed some light on why more men should play netball!
In general, how could netball participation grow for both the men's and women's game?
"For women's netball to become more dominant it needs more financial backing from the government, it has come a long way with the introduction of the Anz Championship and now needs other countries to get involved on the world stage so more countries are competitive at the elite level, not only 3-4 countries.
For men's netball to become more dominant it needs help from the governing bodies that run women's netball to promote boys' involvement in the game instead of hindering it. A lot of people believe its a girls sport so boys shouldn't play/be allowed to play it. So until this mentality has gone men's netball can't build its base....there are a lot of boys who play junior netball up until the age of 13 and then drop out of the system because they are not allowed to play under 15s and under 17s, and have to go play in an open age group. and at 13 this is quite intimidating so they stop playing.
Having one body that looks after both men's and women's netball would help a lot; at the moment there is the traditional "Netball Australia"and "Netball Victoria" that look after women's netball in Australia. Men's netball does fall under there organisation but there is no funding for men's netball and they don't have any input in the organizing of major events in the men's netball scene."
So whilst the ladies battle it out on the international stage this weekend, maybe it's time for the men to step up onto the netball court and show us what they're made of.
What's matter boys? Afraid you might not be up for the challenge?
Take the Challenge to Play a game of men's or mixed netball and prove that netball's not just for girls!
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