Earlier this year, two NSW inclusion champions were included in the winner’s list for the inaugural Australia Post One Netball Community Awards, which recognise those in our community who go above and beyond to make the sport of netball accessible to everyone.
Manly Warringah Netball Association and Guildford Leagues Knights Netball Club were amongst five winners, announced by Netball Australia in October. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges, and as such earned the opportunity to receive a visit from one of the One Netball Ambassadors who presented them with their prize pack, including a one-on-one training session.
Manly Warringah Netball Association were selected for their All Abilities netball program that supports people with an intellectual disability, and on Tuesday 4 November received a special visit from Australian Diamond and former NSW Swift-now Queensland Firebird, Rebecca Bulley.
Then on Friday 14 November NSW Swifts’ own Kimberlee Green visited Guildford Leagues Knights Netball Club, who were chosen for their actions taken to seek and support greater involvement from their local Muslim community.
Congratulations to both NSW inclusion champions for their awards, but more importantly for their efforts in making netball a sport for everyone, of all abilities and from all backgrounds.
MANLY WARRINGAH NETBALL ASSOCIATION (NSW)
In 2009 the Association started an All Ability program with a small group comprising mainly high school-aged girls with a physical disability.
Since then the program has grown to include girls with a physical or intellectual disability and now includes a junior program for girls as young as eight.
Registered players from within the local netball Association volunteer each week to play against the girls in the junior program, creating friendships amongst players and their families in a supportive inclusive environment.
“The Association was approached by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to run some form of netball activity and decided that the best experience for all our girls would be to run an all abilities netball group on Saturday during our winter comp when our other players are playing their matches,” Association president Jane Hauser told the Netball Australia website.
“We positioned the game to be at the same time as the peers of the kids in the all ability group and encouraged our club players to be netball buddies with the girls on court.
“The program has been led by Kim Buckingham, who has a long history playing netball, has daughters playing and is passionate that all ability kids have the opportunity to enjoy playing netball too.”
In 2010 the Association opened 10 new hard courts, which was the result of almost two decades of negotiations, and in 2013 completed a major refurbishment of its clubrooms.
GUILDFORD LEAGUES KNIGHTS NETBALL CLUB (NSW)
In 2011 the Club’s committee identified an opportunity to encourage the local Muslim community to get involved in netball and approached local Muslim community leaders from Auburn and Guildford mosques, as well as teachers from local Islamic schools.
With modifications to uniforms to allow arms and legs to be covered and their head scarves worn – and with mothers of players assisting to break down barriers to engage more players and their families – participation levels have increased and other Clubs and Associations have followed suit.
“It is important to allow girls from everywhere to lead a healthy life, enjoy the outdoors and meet new friends,” Club president Kim Higgins told the Netball Australia website.
“The western suburbs of Sydney is home to people from many backgrounds and we wanted to include everyone.
“Education and knowledge is the key for all cultures to work together to understand each other’s needs and requirements. It is exciting watching the girls grow and develop in their skills.
“Team sports teach children so much more than the skills required in their chosen sport, it teaches many life lessons, working together, trust and commitment just to name a few.”
Higgins said those who started out as juniors are now putting back into the club by introducing a new crop of youngsters to the sport.
“We have so many girls who have started with us as junior players and have now moved to the senior ranks and are passing on their skills and knowledge as coaches and umpires,” she said.
“This is probably our greatest success; witnessing the growth and development of so many of our girls.”