In a fast and furious version of the game of netball Loughborough Lightning beat Wasps after an afternoon-long tournament at the London Copper Box Arena to win the British Fast 5 All-Stars Tournament. Adding a five-point and three point shooting line, Golden Buzzer Power Plays which double points scored for two minutes, and 12-minute matches, this fast-format showcases the twists and turns, the talent and popularity of netball as a leading UK sport.
This comes fast on the heels of an additional 160,000 women taking up netball or playing more netball as a result of the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool in July 2019. There were 112,000 tickets sold for viewing over 20 sessions of live netball, plus live television coverage and radio commentary on all key games, putting the tournament on a par with other more mainstream spectator sports, such as football, tennis, golf and rugby, for the first time.
There were high hopes that home advantage would give the England Roses under the guidance of Tracey Neville an additional boost, especially since their 2018 Commonwealth Gold Medal beating the home favourites Australia 52-51 in the last second of the match. However, in the World Cup earlier this year England lost out to New Zealand by two points in an exciting and closely-fought semi-final and then managed to put their disappointment behind them to go on and win the bronze medal, beating South Africa in the play off by 58-42 as New Zealand went on to beat the favourites Australia by just one point in a thrilling final to be crowned Netball World Cup winners for the fifth time.
All of these knife-edge encounters and the high quality netball played in the Netball Superleague which is transmitted live on Sky TV is putting the game very much front and centre in the UK. As women’s sport begins to take greater priority, netball is one that has historically been available solely to girls and women (although there is a form of men’s netball gaining popularity), has been played in schools around the country for decades and with minimal kit required to get started, is easily accessible to many thousands of girls and women around the country.
According to Sport England’s Active Lives Survey (May 2016 to May 2017), over a quarter of a million adults in England (286,200) take part in netball at least twice a month. And that number is steadily growing as netball participation continues to take off. There is also a new take on the game becoming popular with walking netball aimed at the older participant which is gaining increasing popularity around the UK. Walking Netball is a slower version of the game – simply netball at a walking pace. The game has been designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level. From those who have dropped out of sport altogether due to serious injury, to those who believed they had hung up their netball trainers many years ago, it is a game for everyone.
Maintaining long-term health and wellbeing is one of the main drivers for many in taking up netball in the first place but continued playing depends on personal fitness and healthy bodies. For many netball players, professional and amateur, continual twisting of the knees and ankle joints brings risk of injury. Many players wear knee and ankle supports from a very young age, but for many these can make the problem worse rather than better.
To keep playing, some people find they need to resort to intervention to help maintain their joints and it is here that Hydrodilatation – a ground breaking treatment recommended for joints that are painful and stiff due to the formation of scar tissue may be beneficial.
In other cases, Lipogems has been found to restore patients’ own cartilage and is a cheaper and less risky alternative to knee replacement. Alternatively, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. At the Regenerative Clinic this procedure – which involves drawing blood from a patient’s vein, processing in a centrifuge machine and reinjecting into the joint – takes under an hour under the supervision of one of the Clinic’s expert medical consultants. The main aim of this treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint function and potentially slow, halt or repair damage to cartilage.
So as netball continues to encourage girls and women into regular physical activity, even those who have niggling injuries can be encouraged to play again – with a little help from one of the many forms of regenerative therapies readily available.