England Netball is to benefit from the continued financial backing of Sport England, having been awarded £2.8 million of additional National Lottery funding between 2019 and 2021.
Public funding of the Vitality Roses, England's senior elite squad, had been due to end in July 2019. But the extension, announced by new Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth, means that the team will continue to enjoy government backing beyond next year's INF Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
The funding boost for the governing body of England’s biggest female team sport will be seen as reward for the organisation's performance over the past 12 months. In addition to delivering an historic Commonwealth Games gold medal, England Netball has achieved a grassroots milestone in 2018, welcoming the 100,000th participant in its Back to Netball programme.
Off the court, the NGB has also enjoyed unprecedented success, securing landmark partnerships with Nike as its official supplier and strategic partner, as well as a new three-year title deal with health and life insurance and investments provider Vitality - thought to be the biggest-ever UK women'ssport sponsorship.
Welcoming the addiitonal funding boost, Joanna Adams, England Netball’s CEO, said: “This vital funding will allow our Vitality Roses to be able to continue to play the sport full-time, which is key for their progression and raising the profile of this wonderful sport.
“The worry of finding this kind of support for our commercial strategy, as we quickly approached 2019, has continued to keep me up at night, but this news means post 2019 it will be less of a challenge for England Netball to continue our upward progression.
“With the backing of Sport England and our other amazing partners, we can enter the year of the Vitality Netball World Cup with a positive mind set and look forward to what the future holds for netball.”
Sport England invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.
Its initial agreement with England Netball, which is ineligible for UK Sport funding, had seen part of the money allocated to the full-time athlete programme alongside that directly invested to increase participation through programmes such as Back To Netball and Walking Netball.
Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, commented: “England Netball is winning both on and off the court. The Vitality Roses are heading in to a home World Cup with high hopes, more women and girls are playing the game at every level, and England Netball is attracting more commercial income to secure them for the long term.
“Sport England’s focus is to close the gender gap in sport, by giving girls and women of all ages the chance to be active however they choose. Team sport can be life changing and England Netball is doing a great job of growing their sport. We are delighted to be backing their success.”
News of the financial boost coincided with England Netball being crowned Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The Roses, currently second in the International Netball Federation World Rankings – their highest position to date, were also awarded Greatest Sporting Moment of the Year for their Commonwealth Games golden triumph against host nation Australia in April.
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