THE GAME THAT CASTS WIDE NET

Cockburn Gazette - - OPINION - – Denise S. Cahill Ed­i­tor

NETBALL: the most in­clu­sive sport going round. Fe­males, males, peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity, openly gay women, mum; they are all chuck­ing on bibs and giv­ing netball a go at all lev­els. In 2016, the Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion (ASC) re­leased AusPlay par­tic­i­pa­tion data that found 562,698 adult women par­tic­i­pated in netball be­tween Oc­to­ber 2015 and Septem­ber 2016. There were 324,177 girls playing and ju­nior pro­gram Net­SetGO had more than 80,000 par­tic­i­pants. This month, Netball WA re­vealed that 11,950 young­sters played Net­SetGO in the west, in­clud­ing 213 boys. Netball WA has recog­nised the boost in in­ter­est from males and has two boys divisions in the an­nual As­so­ci­a­tion Cham­pi­onships tak­ing place on the June long week­end. There’s also seven teams in the No Lim­its com­pe­ti­tion for play­ers with an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity that be­came part of the Cham­pi­onships in 2016 af­ter be­ing launched in 2014. West Coast Fever re­cruit Jhaniele Fowler, from Ja­maica, is one of the most talked about play­ers in the Su­per Netball league at the mo­ment and is one of sev­eral play­ers in the com­pe­ti­tion with chil­dren. Elite net­ballers have rarely shied away from hid­ing their sex­u­al­ity too. For­mer Fever cap­tain and cur­rent Mag­pie Ash Brazill mar­ried her part­ner Brooke Grieves in 2016 and gave Fire­birds de­fender Laura Cleme­sha the con­fi­dence to chat about her own sex­u­al­ity pub­licly re­cently. So that first sen­tence is a bold state­ment but I chal­lenge some­one to prove that an­other sport as pop­u­lar as netball gives every­one a chance to shine.

D483192

Rose­mairy Oven­den, Jenni Stawell, Mad­die Wood, Liz Booth and Brit­tany White­head.

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