Netball joins Special Olympics Oz

After an exhibition game was played in Melbourne, netball is set to become a permanent fixture of the Special Olympics Australia National Games after an announcement from Netball Australia last week.

On Tuesday 21 October, Netball Australia announced a new partnership with Special Olympics Australia and ANZ to provide people living with an intellectual disability with another avenue to access regular netball competitions across the country.

On the completion of the 2014 tournament, which was played from Monday 20 to Saturday 25 October at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, netball will become a full participation sport and permanent fixture on Special Olympics Australia’s already busy sporting schedule.

Special Olympics Australia Chief Executive Officer Nicola Stokes said at the time of the announcement that the partnership will increase the quality of life for the largest and most socially isolated disability group in Australia.

“This partnership will ensure that people who are living with an intellectual disability who currently do not play sport will get the opportunity to participate and experience the friendships, joy and health benefits playing netball offers,” Stokes told Netball Australia.

Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer is delighted to partner with Special Olympics Australia to increase access to netball’s participation program, ANZ NetSetGO.

“Netball Australia strives to remove the barriers to participation in our sport. We want to ensure that everyone, regardless of their age, ability, gender or background, can benefit from the safe and inclusive environment provided by the netball community.

“Making netball a permanent fixture on Special Olympics Australia’s sporting offering is another way in which we can introduce people with an intellectual disability to our sport,” Palmer said.

Chair of ANZ’s Accessibility and Inclusion Plan, Sue Jeffery said: “ANZ is pleased to extend our support to Special Olympics Australia and the introduction of netball as a sport offered to athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“The partnership is further demonstration of our support of netball in Australia through the ‘Netball Nation’, which is dedicated to connecting and nurturing all athletes who play and love netball.”

Special Olympics Australia will start the netball competition here in New South Wales, as well as in Victoria and South Australia, with a projected 500 athletes participating with a view to increase to more than 1000 by 2018.

Netball NSW already participates in a variety of disability programs, including the tri-State All Abilities Carnival called the Marie Little OAM Shield.  Named after long-time disability campaigner Marie Little OAM, the annual event sees teams consisting of Players with a Disability (PWD) contest a round-robin style competition.

In 2014 the Netball NSW Marie Little Shield team finished Runners-Up when they met Victoria and South Australia during Round 7 of the Australian Netball League (ANL) season.

Netball NSW also brought you a story recently of Ku-ring-gai Netball Association, who took the initiative to begin their own All Abilities Carnival after visiting a Netball NSW-hosted event at the Blue Mountains. Read more on this new initiative.

For more information on Netball NSW’s inclusive programs, please visit the Community Engagement page on our website.  You can also contact Community Engagement Manager Kristy Guthrie on (02) 9951 5000 during business hours or email [email protected].