Finsbury Park resident front and centre of England Netball programme
- Credit: Sportsbeat
A netball loving Londoner believes a game-changing post-lockdown initiative from England Netball has transformed her life forever.
Rowan Young, 46, started attending England Netball’s Back to Netball sessions in Finsbury Park in March as restrictions began to ease.
Back to Netball sessions are a fun and friendly reintroduction to the sport and Young, a mum-of-one in the capital, says the sessions have given her a new lease of life.
Young, one of over three million UK women who play netball each year, said: “I used to play a lot of netball at school, and I haven’t played since then.
“I loved netball at school and then I just hadn’t done anything for a number of years.
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"And this year I thought, ‘come on, Rowan, you’ve got to do something, otherwise you’ll go mad!’ so I gave it a go straight out of lockdown and went along to one of the classes.
“I really wasn’t sure what to expect but I honestly loved it!
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“The lockdown gave me the realisation that I should be taking care of my health more and trying to get healthier – and netball has definitely been part of that. Because everyone was coming out of lockdown as well, even people who had previously been to netball, the coach eased everyone in.
“It’s a really good team environment. You have complete ranges of ages and skills. There’re people who haven’t played netball before, people who have played regularly and in tournaments, all coming together, being mixed up in the teams.
“We have a good laugh as well as some quite competitive play! We do want to win, but it’s fun at the same time.”
New research shows that almost nine in ten (88 per cent) members of the netball family say the sport gives them a sense of belonging, with 73 per cent reckoning it makes them feel empowered.
Young has found her coach, Yvonne, to be key to making her feel comfortable on returning back to netball.
Having spent a long time looking after her 12-year-old son, Young has discovered that playing netball has given her time for herself – as well as making new friends along the way.
She added: “Yvonne makes it really fun, very relaxed but still a great session. She’s superb. Honestly, I’ve never played with someone who has made me so comfortable as she does and makes it really enjoyable.
“It’s something I can do for me. A lot of my life, my working life, is obviously really hectic, and then I have a son who’s 12 and I spend a lot of time ferrying him round to football and all the various other things.
“But this is something I’m just doing for me, which I haven’t done for years. It’s massive for me, just to get out for a couple of hours and have some fun with other women.
“I wish I had never stopped playing. It is really accessible – the sessions aren’t expensive, and they’re really comfortable. You’re not pressured into going to all the sessions if you can’t, you can just go to the one’s you can.
“Just go along. It’s that first step that is difficult to overcome. No matter what, you will be nervous about what other people will be like, worried about whether you’re going to keep up. But just go.
“I felt so comfortable, and you’ll really love it. Just take that first step and you’ll be on your way.”
For more information about how to get involved in participation programmes such as Walking Netball or Back to Netball, please contact your regional Netball Development Officer (NDO). Go to www.englandnetball.co.uk/support/regions/