Where does Netball come from?

It’s a game that’s certainly on the rise. It can be unisex but its proving to be a big hit with the girls again who see it as a great way to stay fit and active plus have a laugh together plus there might just be a little bit of nostalgia and memories of youth. Added to that is the stunning victory of the England Netball team at the Commonwealth games with the last gasp winner. Combine this with the Women’s Hockey Success at the Olympics in Brazil and the continued rise of the Lionesses and the Women’s world cup next year things on the England female sports front are buzzing.  Whatever the reason it’s a good idea to be prepared and some Netball Training Videos like the ones at https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Netball/drills.jsp will help get you and your team set up ready to play. Before you do that, have you ever wondered where the game of Netball comes from? Read on and find out.

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The game began at Hampstead in London in 1893. It’s easy to see that it owes its roots to Basketball. That was invented earlier in 1891 but it was the vision of Martina Bergman-Österberg that a version of the game solely for women should be developed. Madame Österberg was a strong advocate for women’s suffrage and emancipation so much so that she would not allow men to attend the Hampstead Physical Training college that she ran. Madame Österberg introduced the game to the girls and also insisted on the gymslip as a much better way of allowing freedom of movement rather than the long skirts they were supposed to wear. The game was played indoors away from prying eyes of men who might want to see the ladies in gymslips. This was the Victorian era after all and they believed in chastity and decorum.

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The game was eventually moved outdoors as it was of such high physical activity the girls needed to cool down. The rules were slowly adapted by the pupils of Hampstead Physical Training College and Madame Österberg was happy about that as it made it “their” game.  In 1897 an American teacher called Miss Porter took some rules from modern women’s basketball and codified them into the rules. The game was then changed officially to Netball.

After that the sport never looked back. By 1901 a new sets of agreed rules was produced that would apply throughout the country. The sport was seen as something ideal for ladies to play as it was so different from other sports and featured no physical contact (tell that to a Netball player!) Schools, desperate for something cheap the girls could play soon picked up on this and its popularity spread through the system. An international body to regulate and organise the sport was set up in 1924 in New Zealand. In just over twenty years Madame Österberg and Miss Porter had seen the game grow from its humble origins. Sadly Madame Österberg died before she saw the international body formed.