England Netball launches walking version to boost accessibility
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England Netball launches walking version to boost accessibility

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England Netball is attempting to broaden the sport’s appeal by launching a walking version of the game suitable for older players and women with injury problems.

The governing body has been planning and developing the slower alternative to “encourage thousands of women” to join or come back to the sport. Pilots will kick off around the country from April with a full rollout being lined up for September 2016.

Development projects manager for England Netball Carly Beach told Sports Management that although launching walking netball was “not originally” in the body’s plans, excitement around the adapted game meant that it was going to be a “key part of England Netball’s strategy” going forward.

“A lot of our audience stops participating at 44 or 45-years-old, so we went down the route of trying to build up some insight into why,” she said. “We had focus groups, talked to Age UK and the Football Association (FA) about walking football to gather some learnings from them and get insight into women’s motivations.”

Designed for anyone to participate – regardless of age or fitness level – walking netball will be rolled out with a number of rule tweaks: one foot must remain on the floor at all times, players can take an extra step and participants will now have four seconds to pass the ball.

Research compiled by England Netball’s in-house insight team lasted between July and October 2015, when the organisation realised that there was enough demand.

The ability to socialise was one of the factors behind its popularity, said Beach, while women with severe medical conditions and injuries were still able to play and enjoy the sport.

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England Netball is attempting to broaden the sport’s appeal by launching a walking version of the game suitable for older players and women with injury problems.
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