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Walking Netball Stars

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A special look at the Walking Netball event that took place ahead of Stars v Mavericks by Becky O

Monday night saw the Sky Sports Netball truck come to Worcester to roll out their court for the big netball event of Round 8 of the Vitality Netball Super League. Not the VNSL game at 7pm, which turned out to be a disappointing contest between Stars and Mavericks, but the real big event… Over 30 Worcestershire and Gloucestershire walking netballers took to the Sky Sports court in a celebration of the older members of the #starsfamily.

A series of mini walking netball games took place, before the walkers settled back to enjoy the “runners and jumpers” in the VNSL. For this generation of netballers, there was no Superleague, certainly no TV coverage, rarely an indoor court and certainly no dresses quite so short, so the celebration was an apt way of letting them feel a tiny part of what netball is like now.

Walking netball is a great version of the game. I wasn’t sure until I tried it. Now, I have to confess, that if I am having a rough week, I know that popping along to walking netball will leave me beaming from ear to ear. But don’t just take my word for it..

“it is just so much fun. I have met new people and some I knew from netball years ago.”

“it is great to play again after so many years. It is good to feel like, you know, you can still do it!”

“it keeps me going! Keeps me active, it is so much fun and we have a laugh!”

“I’m not sure that I always know what I’m doing, but I keep coming back, so something must be working!”

Not only does it help keep people active, but new friendships are made, old friendships rekindled and don’t think it isn’t competitive. You get the same faces pulled at umpires, the same sneaky elbows and the odd bit of back chat too.

The walkers are a real mix of people. Some have always been involved in netball, alongside those who haven’t played since school. I am reminded of just what an inclusive game netball can be.

After the walkabout on court, I got to spend some time chatting netball memories with the walkers, sharing some netball memorabilia and photographs from the 60s and earlier. Some familiar faces popped up from days gone by and some fabulous hair styles too.

Netball has changed so much in recent years and away from the court, I am lucky to be researching women and sport. In particular, memories of sport for older women who now experience memory loss or dementia. Specifically I would like to chat to women living with memory loss, for whom sport (not just netball) has been, or still is, an important part of their life. I want to hear all about their memories of it and what those memories mean to them today. If you are someone, or know someone who might be interested in chatting more to me about this, please do get in touch on r.oatley@worc.ac.uk.