Sport for boys, sport for girls… there’s no such thing anymore, and men and women can take part in any kind of activity they like, whenever they like. Interestingly, netball has always been one of those sports traditionally viewed as a girl’s game but it seems that there’s a bit of a change in the air right now, with an increasing number of men keen to play.
According to a BBC Sport report, mixed netball leagues are now going great guns and there is now one well-known men’s team, launched in 2018, making a name for itself as we speak, despite the fact that there’s no England national seven-a-side team and the men’s game is not yet recognised by the International Netball Federation.
The Knights, the all-male team launched back in April last year, was founded by Lewis Keeling who was turned onto the sport by his sister. The team play regularly against some of the best women’s sides out there, gaining exposure from matches and now boasting around 50 players across three squads.
And this year, the Northern Titans were formed by Declan Kohl, made up of male players from between Leeds and Manchester.
While the Netball World Cup has come to an end, there’s still indoor netball (known as NETS), which is a faster version of the game – and England will be taking a mixed side to South Africa for the World Cup in August, as well as a women’s team.
Speaking to the news source, Mr Kohl explained that a change is needed in schools to encourage more men to play. The game itself is a mixed game until the age of 11, with Mr Kohl saying: “That’s where you lose men’s netball. At 11, boys are told it’s a girl’s sport. We’ve definitely had things on Instagram and Twitter where people say, ‘it’s a girl’s sport’ – we’re trying to change that bias.
“Attitudes in big cities have changed a lot in recent years. In Leeds and Manchester, you do have that intercity, cosmopolitan feeling.”
Taking the game as a whole, netball itself is fast becoming one of the most popular activities, with record numbers now signing up to play.
According to the BBC, there has been a 44 per cent rise in participation at grass roots level in the last 12 months – and there are now nearly 30,000 players taking part across England.
This is down in large part to initiatives from England Netball, which have attracted women of different abilities and ages back to the game. These include walking netball, which is the sport’s fastest growing programme – the same as netball but at a slower pace so anyone can play, regardless of how fit or how old they are.
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