England Netball gets green light for modified return

19 Aug 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

England Netball has been given the green light to move through its return to play roadmap.

The governing body for netball in England says it will accelerate its return through a modified version of the game, and will allow modified training and local club friendlies to take place for groups of up to 30 people per court, though this will be subject to the organisations hosting matches having risk mitigations in place.

As part of an action plan submitted to the government to lay out its return-to-play measures, England Netball has increased the normal three foot marking rule to four foot, and outlined that players will be required to position themselves a minimum of four foot away from their opposing players and teammates at the start of play. 

The rules also prohibit high fiving teammates and excessive shouting on court.

“We are delighted to be taking a significant step towards seeing netball in its fullest form return,” said Fran Connolly, CEO, England Netball. 

“I know the netball family have been itching to get back on court and the time is nearly upon us. Today’s announcement means that thousands of women and girls can step back on courts and enjoy the significant physical and mental benefits the sport brings to so many.

“Behind the scenes we have been working tirelessly to analyse the standard game and considered every plausible way of getting the sport back as soon as possible, whilst protecting the essence of netball and keeping everyone safe.

“Whilst the change in marking distance sounds simple, there is still a great deal for clubs, leagues and programme deliverers to do, including speaking to venues, doing risk assessments, appointing a dedicated COVID-19 Officer and much more, but we will be here to help them every step of the way. We are also aware that some member organisations have had difficulty accessing venues or booking courts due to limited access and availability, so we do ask players to continue to be patient as we support netball organisations nationally and locally to navigate through this period.

“This is a great step in reigniting netball and is vital in helping the sport to rise again. For anyone that hasn’t yet, we encourage members to renew their 2020/21 membership now so they can help netball return bigger and stronger than before and enjoy the benefits of being on court again and being a part of the Netball Family.

The Vitality Roses and Vitality Netball Superleague clubs are continuing their journeys back to court through the government’s elite sport return to training framework, with players returning to the traditional full form of netball with risk mitigations in place.