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Player numbers not looking pretty for netball

Apr 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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TEAM NUMBERS: A drop between secondary students' and women's participation rates.

WELLINGTON’S senior netball participation rates are not falling through the hoop – but they are not growing either.

It’s a big concern for Wellington Netball regional manager Raewyn Clark. The loss of players between secondary school and senior clubs narrows the options for selecting Wellington’s best to represent the region in various national competitions, she says.

While the total number of teams in the Wellington region has grown from 1196 in 2002 to 1316 in 2009, senior grade teams made up only 20% and 18% of that total, respectively.

Netball Wellington Region had 329 teams playing at a secondary level from five centres – Wairarapa, Kapiti Coast, Kapi-Mana, the Hutt and Wellington last year. The number of senior women’s teams was 239 (a difference of 7%).

netball secondary

JUNIORS KEEN: Thomasina Ferrall shoots for her Northland School team, the Breakers.

Wellington Netball keeps statistics from the Future Ferns – years seven and eight through to senior women.

The decline observed in Wellington’s netball participation after players leave school is also reflected in the national SPARC figures for 2007/08 where it falls from 11.1 % for 16-24 years to 5.6% for 25-34 years.

But for the capital, factors such as players leaving for study at Otago or Massey Universities or being employed on short-term contracts in the public service have created a transient population of seniors, Mrs Clark says.

Growth can be seen in the Future Ferns, who increased their share of the total by 8% between 2002 and 2009.

The number of teams playing at the secondary level peaked in 2004, when they made up 32% of the total. Now it is 25%. The total number of teams also peaked in 2004 (1479).

For seniors, there is the problem of women juggling work, families, study and the seven-day working week, says Mrs Clark.

Another factor she identifies is a drop in gaming machines grants because of the recession. This could cause subs to go up and people will not be able to afford membership fees.

This lack of time and money has helped make summer twilight netball and business house netball more popular. Their numbers have increased from 55 teams in the Wellington region in 2002 to 140 teams in 2009 but these figures are not included in the overall team totals.

Mrs Clark says the Central Pulse team’s entry two years ago into the ANZ Championship creates a pathway for Wellington’s senior players, keeping them here and, she hopes, ensuring more Wellington representation at a national level will follow.

Mrs Clark also hopes implementing recommendations from a recent review will keep more talent in Wellington and feed into the Central Pulse competing. It addresses the delivery of netball in the five centres and the need to produce more winning players.

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