From not playing netball since school to finding ‘huge’ mental health benefits – the players on the ball again

Netball players have urged women to take up the sport after seeing the improvements it has brought for them.

The Bassetlaw Belles Netball Club hosts a “Back to Netball” session every Thursday evening between 6pm and 7pm at the Elizabethan Academy in Retford.

It was launched four and a half years ago and the idea behind the sessions is to encourage women who may have played the sport at a younger age to take it up again in a casual setting.

Although the sport of the evening is aimed at those who may be a bit older, the sessions are open to 16-year-olds and women who have never played netball.

Lincolnshire Live went to Retford to speak to a few players about what it means for them to come to the sessions.

Kaye Hudson, 48, said she always looks forward to the weekly meetup.

“I showed up for the first time four years ago,” she explained.

“I haven’t played netball since I was in school so it wasn’t a sport I always did, but I loved it and the camaraderie we share is just amazing.

“Everyone is so friendly and our coach Lindsey is working hard to organize everything for all of us and we have really developed as a club.

“I’m now captain of a team on a Sunday morning, which is all down to the fact that I just came with them. I absolutely love it.”

Elizabeth Newstead, 30, added that the psychological benefits of playing netball really helped her.

She said, “I will have played here for three years in October and I got involved through one of my best friends from elementary school.

“I thought I couldn’t do this anymore, but I came and tried it. My girlfriend is no longer coming because she’s a nurse and obviously has other responsibilities, but I didn’t stop, I loved it.”

“I think one of the main benefits is making friends, we have a lot of laughs and banter, and we also attend social events outside of here.

“In fact, half of my wedding guests will be netball players in the evening.

“It’s really critical to my mental health, just coming back made me so much happier – it was so exciting when all the news came back, it was a massive boost.

“Some of the players here are teachers, just like me, so we were able to talk to each other about classes during the pandemic, which was a huge help.”

Lindsey Ball, 56, chaired the sessions and told Lincolnshire Live more about what the netball club is up to.

“Back to Netball works as a drop-in session so you don’t have to show up and do this training every week,” explained Ms. Ball.

“With different age groups, different fitness and performance levels popping up, it’s a real mix, so there’s something for everyone.

Bassetlaw netball players playing a game during the Back to Netball sessions

“Nobody will attack you if you take a little break and you can just come to exercise and have fun.

“It’s common knowledge that physical activity has a really good impact on your mental health and because our sessions are really supportive and friendly, people can show up and feel like they belong.

“I know there has been a huge boost for some of our players to return not only for their mental health but also for their confidence and self-esteem.”

The club has now received money from Sport England to fund the club, with cash not only being used for existing members but also increasing the acceptance of netball in the area.

If you would like to participate in the Back to Netball program, you can find out more here on Bassetlaw Belles’ website.

Alternatively, you can visit their Facebook page here or email them at [email protected]

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