Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - OPINION -

NETBALL: the most in­clu­sive sport go­ing around. Fe­males, males, peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity, openly gay women, mums… they are all chuck­ing on bibs and giv­ing netball a go (and ex­celling) at all lev­els. In 2016, the Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion (ASC) re­leased its 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 a young child or chil­dren. Elite net­ballers have rarely shied away from hid­ing their sex­u­al­ity too, act­ing as role mod­els for their fans. 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. 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.

Denise S. Cahill Editor

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d483192

Vol­un­teer coach Mad­die Wood shoot­ing for goal.

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