How award-winning Ashby Netball Club are making a difference on and off the court

By Graham Hill

16th Jul 2023 | Local Sport

It has been a big year for Ashby Netball Club
It has been a big year for Ashby Netball Club

Ashby Netball Club are making an impact both on and off the court.

Not only have the World Record holding team recently picked up one prestigious award, but they have also been nominated for another.

Competition success has been matched by initiatives by the club which show they aim to reflect modern day attitudes and challenges.

The club made headlines in February by breaking the world record for the number of netball goals scored in a 24 hour period - the final number was 28,745 with more than £20,000 raised for Midlands-based charity Kids Village - which is the UK's first purpose-built holiday venue just for children with critical illness and their families.

Earlier this month, Ashby were announced as this year's Club of the Year at the Netball in East Midlands ONE Awards.

Development Officer Carla Carey says it reflected a real depth to Ashby Netball Club's involvement in the sport.

Carla told Ashby Nub News: "As well as the ONE award, we've also been nominated for a BBC Make A Difference Award It's more community based and will be announced in September.

"We obviously stood out for our world record fundraiser - but the ONE award was more for based around the club has made, our growth, increased participation and inclusivity.

"But we want to try and break down barriers, especially in terms of women's sport.

"We've also given players the option of not wearing the traditional netball dresses, and playing in a sports kit, with shorts, which players feel is more comfortable. It's about being given the choice.

"So you can choose to wear baggy shorts, or t-shirts. Literally a choice so that you feel comfortable, you won't be able to feel that you can't play because people don't feel comfortable in what they're asked to wear.

"And with the cost of living crisis at the moment, we want to make the club more accessible to people. We look for the ways we can challenge the norms.

Carla says the club is expanding in several ways.

She added: "We now have a new regional team that has qualified from a really difficult qualification process. We were fighting for one place in the regional league in a tournament with teams from multiple counties to win every game - and there was only one place available. 

"It was really high stakes, but we got that place. 

"We've gone to 10 teams now in the club. By doing that, we've increased participation in our club sports league to over 90 members.

"We also have a strong junior section and we're encouraging youngsters to get involved. We're also trying to get the two sections together more as well as hoping to partner up with Ashby Rugby Club in terms of expanding further.

"It's about collaborating and showing the progress that we're making sure.

"To be able to achieve great things on and off the court speaks for itself in terms of performance. A couple of our players are now moving on to much bigger and better things.

"Our performance athletes are doing really well and our team because we've won tournaments this season. But our biggest achievement is that balance between performance and what happens on the court in terms of participation - we call it purple and yellow. So purple is performance athletes, and yellow is our participation players. 

"Either way, everyone's included, valued, appreciated, like our training for performance athletes is a mixture of our head coach and guest coaching, but those participation athletes also get best coaches and workshops. We're trying to combine that with community spirit.

"I think we've actually achieved something quite rare in the fact that we can manage our performance athletes and increase numbers and participation and support our community - and raise 21 grand in the process!

"It certainly isn't led by me, I'm just speaking for ourselves, and so many great things going on. And I want to make sure that everyone's getting the recognition that they deserve. There are incredible people. We've been quite good at using the skill sets in our club as well. Everyone has real jobs, and different skills, whether they're management, coaching - think we've just learned really well to harness that.

"That's a good way to grow better than the sum of your parts. We ask, what can we take from these people?"


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