IN THE Blue Mountains community of Lapstone a group of feisty women have been holding court.
But they weren’t gathered for scones at the local CWA . These have-a-go ladies were trying out the new sport of walking netball.
Developed by Netball NSW and the Department of Family and Community Services, this modified version of of the game is done at walking pace, making it easier for older people, and those returning to the sport after injury, to get on the court. It’s already a hit in the UK and New Zealand.
Netball NSW has been rolling out four-week pilot programs with a view to launching it with clubs across the state next year.
Chiropractic assistant Cherie Elliott, 52, from Blaxland, was forced to give up netball eight years ago due to ankle and knee injuries.
“I love netball and missed playing so decided to give walking netball a try,” said Cherie, who was an organiser of the Blue Mountains Netball Association trial, which had about 60 participants aged from their late 20s to their 80s.
“While it’s not as physical, and you’re not on top of each other, I was still puffing at the end,” she said.
“You can still enjoy the game and have a laugh, although it was hard not to jump when getting a rebound!”
In this modified game, players can’t have both feet off the ground at once (so no running or jumping), but when they receive the ball they can take up to two steps (compared to just one in regular netball) before they must pass or shoot.
And substitutions can be made during the game instead of waiting until the end of each quarter.
Netball NSW walking netball co-ordinator Nathan Keys said while the rules may have been relaxed, the games are still very competitive.
He said it was good to see different generations getting on board, and many people returning to the game. Most players are women in their 50s, 60s and 70s, but men and people of all ages are welcome.
“As well as the social aspect, walking netball is great for falls prevention, flexibility, balance and general fitness,” Nathan said.
“And the footwork – being given the extra step – means the game is gentler on your joints and helps reduce pressure on your knees.”
- To find out where you can play the game near you, go to playwalkingnetball.com.au