Hope netball can ‘capitalise on this moment\'

Hope netball can ‘capitalise on this moment'

Managing director of the Netball Super League Claire Nelson hopes netball can “capitalise on this moment for women’s sport” as it strives for professionalisation.

England Netball announced last year that the Super League will be relaunched in 2025 with the vision of clubs playing in bigger venues, enhancing live and TV audience experience and providing closer competition.

Professionalisation will also aim to provide “advancements in the elite environment to ensure players can choose and experience rewarding careers in netball”.

Nelson was appointed to her role in April last year having previously worked for Netball Scotland and Strathclyde Sirens and hopes netball can “capitalise” on its moment.

She told the PA news agency: “We have some amazing targets. We talk about our 10-year strategy, but we want to win golds on the world stage at World Cups and we want to build the most competitive, commercially vibrant, captivating league in the world.

“When you look at what we have as foundations, they’re so good and everything we’re doing now is to actually capitalise on this moment for women’s sport, but more importantly for our sport.

“This is a moment for netball, our bounce back post-COVID has seen us absolutely smashing our participation and membership numbers – we’re a big sport.

“We’ve now got this professionalisation opportunity where we can go into bigger arenas and take our sport to more households.”

The Super League is already three games into the 2024 season ahead of next year’s relaunch and Severn Stars and Manchester Thunder are the only unbeaten teams, sitting three points ahead of defending champions Loughborough Lightning.

The sport’s professionalisation ambitions follow in the footsteps of other women’s sports which are continuing to flourish at the highest level and Nelson believes netball is the “biggest untapped opportunity”.

“For me, netball’s the biggest untapped opportunity in women’s sport bar none,” she added.

“We’re in this moment where women’s sport is front and centre, so people are wanting to see, to experience, to consume, to support women’s sport.

“Then what we bring to the table is the opportunity to blank canvas, create this product which actually is an intersect from what happens on a court to what’s happening digitally and how we can become more lifestyle and music and fashion and entertainment, how we can unlock the talent potential in our athletes and tell their stories.”

Domestic professionalisation can only be helped by England’s Vitality Roses, who continue to enjoy success on the international stage.

The Roses earned an historic gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in a dramatic final against Australia and they finished third in the World Cup on home soil in 2019.

More recently, England took silver in their maiden World Cup final appearance in South Africa last year and Nelson believes the Roses are the “pinnacle” of England Netball’s aims.

She said: “This is the beauty of what we do here at England Netball, we’ve got the whole sport, we’ve got international, we’re going to have professional domestic and then we’ve got grassroots and community.

“All of these should be integrated and they should be complementary and that’s what we’re trying to build – this ecosystem of a sport where everyone can enjoy their experience and thrive in it, but the Roses are absolutely the pinnacle.

“I have to get the best performance programme and competition in the Super League because that is going to ensure that we have Roses success on the world stage. Roses success on the world stage makes people want to show up and support.

“It’s all interconnected and it’s all complementary, it makes my job a whole lot easier when we have great performances from these incredible athletes on the world stage.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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