East Devon netballer front and centre of England netball initiative
By Francesca Evans
29th Jul 2021 | Sports Features
Having quit playing netball aged 18, the Back to Netball initiative has helped East Devon resident Rosie Bennett reconnect with the sport.
Years later, she now coaches, umpires and is the captain for the team she founded.
Back to Netball is a friendly, judgement-free environment for women of all ages and abilities to fall in love with netball again.
Rosie, aged 30, who works at Axminster Tools & Machinery, attended her first session after being invited by a work friend and said: "I told her I hadn't played since school and she said 'that doesn't matter, that's the whole point.
"My very first experience of netball was at primary school. Then throughout secondary school, I continued being on the team for the different matches there and then took a bit of a break.
"I never thought I'd play again."
Rosie instantly enjoyed being back on the court and found that her memories of playing netball came back to her.
She added: "Myself, along with a lot of other people there, we just naturally got back into the flow of it.
"There were some who were still finding their feet, but they continued just because they were enjoying it.
"It doesn't matter about their ability at all, they're having fun, which is really good to see.
"Learning new skills and different ways of doing it was a great starting point just to learn how to build your skills again.
"As soon as you build those skills, you learn how to put them into the gameplay."
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 saying it makes them feel empowered.
Back to Netball sessions involve a mix of drills and games with a chance to get advice from knowledgeable coaches.
Rosie, who is one of over three million UK women who play netball each year, said: "Whenever something happens in the game that the coaches want to point out, they say 'see what's happened here, this is what we would suggest that you do. Let's go back and try it.'
"I thought that was really good, that you actually have the scenario being played out on court."
Getting back into netball led to Seaton resident Rosie setting up her own team, the Beer Blazers, who now play in the top division of the Honiton Netball League.
She also organises pay to play sessions at Axminster Tools and Machinery, while she is currently working towards her coaching and umpiring qualifications.
But the biggest thing Back to Netball has given Rosie is confidence.
"When I started my current job, I went there thinking I want people to know who I am," she said.
"I think Back to Netball started building that because that's how I started going there thinking: oh, everyone knows who I am, this is really nice."
For more information about how to get involved in participation programmes, such as Walking Netball or Back to Netball, contact your regional Netball Development Officer.
There's something for everyone no matter what your age or ability – for more information visit www.englandnetball.co.uk/support/regions