Becky Rushton, Torbay Netball League umpiring secretary, writes about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the sport

Torbay Netball League players in happier timesTorbay Netball League players in happier times

When we were asked to do an article about netball in Torbay we jumped at the chance.

Who doesn’t like to hear about netball, we cried. So what is netball? A bunch of ladies running around a court, throwing a ball, not able to run or shoot from outside the circle, shouting ‘here if you need’.

Well, netball is so much more than that - a fast paced, think on your feet, throw the ball, catch the ball, pivot, three seconds to decide, who’s free, use a short pass or a long pass and all this when a defender is breathing down your neck.

You see it’s typically a 60-minute, seven-a-side game requiring speed, strength and agility.

Netball inspires so many girls and ladies to get fit, have fun and be part of a netball familyNetball inspires so many girls and ladies to get fit, have fun and be part of a netball family

Torbay Netball League is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run league, affiliated to the governing body England Netball.

Netball has become a firm fixture in Torbay having originated more than 40 years ago starting at Lymington Road with only eight teams and two divisions.

Playing come rain or shine, many ladies remember the cold nights and hiding in the small shelter when the rain got too heavy.

However, like any good sport, netball’s popularity grew.

League members really do love a good party!League members really do love a good party!

Now boasting four divisions, 44 teams and with 583 ladies taking part last season, an expansion saw us move to the Sports Hub in Paignton which has an impressive four-court, multi-use indoor facility.

The league is hoping to introduce a division five next year as they have a waiting list of teams wanting to join.

Each season is celebrated with a presentation where success is rewarded, recognition given, hard work recognised and team work encouraged.

League members really do love a good party! What better way to get dressed up, celebrate and dance the night away with your friends.

Netball becomes a lifeline for so many playersNetball becomes a lifeline for so many players

The league also likes to support local charities too and every year members hold at least two tournaments with the sole aim of giving back to our local community.

Members are lucky to have such a diverse league with young girls and women taking part. No matter their age, colour, shape, size or ability, there is a place for everyone. For the newbies, the rising stars, the socialites, the school students/leavers, the housewives, the busy working women, those who haven’t played since school days and the competitive players, the league really does cater for everyone’s abilities.

Netball becomes a lifeline for so many players. Many league teams who play become firm favourites playing year in and year out, making lifelong friendships.

Through the good times, the sad times and the difficult times, you know that your netball family will always be there to celebrate your successes, pick you up when you fall and support you when you need it.

Netball actionNetball action

It really is good for the soul and promotes a positive sense of mental wellbeing. Not to mention the physical benefits. Did you know on average you can burn approximately 450 calories in one match?

Netball inspires so many girls and ladies to get fit, have fun and be part of a netball family.

It has some amazing talented players and our youth players are finding great success at local and national levels with hugely successful clubs such as Team Bath.

This is why Covid-19 has had such a devastating impact on the league.

Games were brought to an abrupt halt and the league, for the first time ever, was brought to an early end.

The date for return remains uncertain. Due to new Government restrictions, the league has had to find outdoors courts. We were fortunate to find one but this highlights the detrimental impact Covid has had on netball.

It’s a close contact sport and this makes it difficult for players to return but one thing for sure - the young girls and ladies have their netball trainers waiting at the door ready for the green light.

If you have been thinking of joining, what’s stopping you? A great team-inspired, fun and supportive netball community awaits you.

We are always on the lookout for sponsorship so if you think you can represent our ethos of female togetherness, strength and positivity, then get in touch torbaynetballleague@gmail.com