MNNSW today announced a historic partnership with Netball NSW, integrating two new boys divisions at the HART Junior State Titles for 2021. In an Australian first partnership of its type, NSW schools, associations and clubs are able to submit teams to 14 and Under or 16 and Under Junior Men’s competition, capturing an age group that neither bodies pathways currently cater for.
President Clare McCabe referenced this partnership as “the most critical new pathway program” in her organisations 35 year history. “To say we are excited is an understatement. Netball NSW have really embraced the innovation and diversity boys and men offer the game of netball and we are thrilled by this latest show of support for growing the game into more parts of the community. I think we will look back on this partnership in years to come and see it as a real pace-setter and game changer for other states to follow”, McCabe said.
The HART Junior State Titles is a flagship event within the Netball NSW pathway acting as an
audition for players trying to break into premier and state leagues. For boys, that pathway has never existed – before now. “We’ve had a huge gap in our pathway for several decades, with our boys having no place to play once they age out of local netball at 12. The next time we have something to offer is our state program, which is many years later and a huge step up from local netball to semi elite netball. This partnership gives these boys a chance to keep playing netball, growing their skills, as well as capturing new talent.” McCabe said.
This partnership follows key recommendations in Netball Australia’s State of the Game review relating to the need for the sport to improve its diversity as a key driver of growth. The report called out netball as the only big 5 sporting code without a growth strategy focused on gender-diversity, citing it as a key opportunity for the future of the game and calling on netball bodies to act.
“The report made a great reference to boys who may not be attracted to high contact sports such as the football codes, struggling to find a home in team sport. Netball offers a different outlet for this young talent to play a fast paced sport where strategy, speed and skills are on show. These are the next generation of young men we want to be building.” McCabe said.
The partnership will continue to develop with more opportunities to follow, and while the first year for the Junior Men’s competition will be a test and learn, MNNSW is looking for triple digit growth in participation in the first twelve months. Schools or associations wishing to gain support in recruiting, coaching or preparing boys teams are invited to contact MNNSW for more information.