All Abilities Netball just got more inclusive with the introduction of a low vision ball, to be used throughout the finals series that kicks off this Wednesday March 8.
Surf Coast Suns player, Mon Crowden explained how it all came about. “I knew about the tennis balls and cricket balls, but I didn’t know if they did netballs.”
Along with her Leisure Networks Support Worker, Mon got to work researching options for players with low vision, like herself.
Organisers of the Barwon All Abilities Netball approached Sophie Murley, Head of Netball, AFL Barwon to see what they could do.
“We looked into it and found a specially designed netball that contains a loud bell so players can hear where the ball is as it moves and also has contrasting stripes to make it easier to see,” said Ms Murley. “We have begun using it across both courts, not just the court where we have a participant with low vision. This gives all the players familiarity with it.
“All the participants have enjoyed having the new ball. When they pick it up and hear the bell, it’s quite appealing. It has also given the other players a bit of insight into the challenges faced by their teammate with lower vision.”
Supported by Leisure Networks and AFL Barwon, All Abilities Netball has been running as a winter competition for close to 10 years with four to five teams from in and around Geelong. Witnessing a huge appetite from the participants to keep the season rolling all year round, Leisure Networks and AFL Barwon facilitated this current, inaugural summer season.
“Our role at Leisure Networks, is to facilitate these opportunities getting off the ground,” said Luke Maher, Program Coordinator Leisure Networks. “We work with local clubs to create inclusive opportunities and connect people into these supported activities.
“We have had great success in building participation for footy,” Mr Maher continued, “especially with the introduction of the Inclusion League for senior players with disability. I think we can do a similar thing with Netball. And believe me, we’re working on it!”
“It’s great to be able to provide inclusive opportunities in a club environment,” Ms Murley stated. “It’s really important for people to feel a part of something and I think having that club connection can be imperative to people succeeding in life. When you feel a part of something you feel fulfilled and it’s great to be able to facilitate those connections with clubs. Hopefully we can continue to grow this all abilities netball competition, make it bigger and better and provide more opportunities and pathways for all abilities.”