A sporting initiative is inspiring thousands of people to take up netball, at any level, in a bid to improve fitness and have fun!

In 1926 an inaugural meeting in London formed the All England Netball Association and in 1932 the first inter-county tournament was held, with Essex emerging as the first county champions. Over the years the sport has grown and is now played in countries all over the world.

Today a sporting initiative is making people aware of why netball should be considered in order to improve fitness. Netball is played by 20 million people worldwide and is played in more than 80 countries across five continents. It is easy to play at grassroots level and it is a sport accessible to all requiring little expensive equipment or facilities.

It’s a sport girls may remember playing at school, however there is a push, by the England Netball Association, to encourage everyone to recognise the benefits of playing, including losing weight, improving muscle tone and being part of a team, by getting Back to Netball.

Running across England, more than 60,000 people have taken part in Back to Netball. Sessions provide them with a gentle re-introduction to the sport, with enthusiastic coaches incorporating the basics of the game including passing, footwork and shooting, all finishing with a friendly game.

As part of the Back to Netball initiative there is Couch to Court that is all about taking some great first steps to get you feeling healthier, happier and more confident.

The biggest challenges a new netballer might face is not knowing where or how to begin. Back to Netball will help guide and encourage you to move from the couch to a netball court in a way that suits you.

It is perfect for those that are unsure about jumping into netball straight away or want to find out more about their nearest session.

If a netball session is for you, there are various programmes and different levels that will introduce you to the sport, where you will meet like-minded people and get fit at the same time. And, if you think netball might be too energetic for you there’s even a walking version, so there really is no excuse not to get involved.

Women the length of the country have started playing Walking Netball for the fun, laughter and camaraderie the social session brings, as much as the health benefits on offer.

Walking Netball has been designed so that anyone can play regardless of age, ability or fitness level. One such group offering these sessions is Mellor Walking Netball which is held in Mellor Village Hall every Wednesday from 10am to 11am followed by coffee at The Millstone.

The Mellor group has 23 members aged from mid-50s to a 79-year-old ex-England captain, who is thoroughly enjoying her return to netball.

With players of all abilities Walking Netball builds confidence and esteem as well as enthusing a team spirit. It is also a great opportunity to get involved in a community club, as Julie Cousins from the Mellor Walking Netball group explains: “The weekly sessions are great fun and there is always plenty of laughter. However, Walking Netball is more than that, our players have become part of a netball family with a great social life. Over the last year we have got involved in treasure hunts, lunches, afternoon teas, theatre and opera visits as well as a two-day visit to World Netball in Liverpool.

“We also look out for one another. If one is us is ill or injured there are plenty of offers of support. People from all walks of life and abilities can experience a fun way to fitness.”

Katie Thompson of the England Netball Association explains: “Walking Netball can give those who feel isolated an outlet, provide an activity for those who don’t deem themselves fit enough to run anymore and offer a stepping stone for those looking for a pathway back into netball.”

To take part in Walking Netball you don’t need any special kit, just clothes that you feel comfortable exercising in and suitable footwear, ideally trainers.

Katie adds: “It’s a fun and friendly re-introduction to netball. Across England more than 110,000 women have re-discovered their love for the game.”

“Back to Netball is for women of all ages and levels of experience – whether you haven’t played since your school days, want to improve your fitness in a relaxed and enjoyable environment, or are just looking for a great place to meet new friends and stay active, Back to Netball is the place for you!”

Why not give it a go and get back on the court?

To find a session near you and to sign up to the Back to Netball initiative visit:



Tedd Walmsley

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