Men’s netball might not yet have the profile of the women’s sport but that’s all set to change later this year, when England Men’s & Mixed Netball Association (EMMNA) launches their first national league competition and the new squad from Henley Hawks Netball, will be right at the forefront of this huge move to change perceptions of the sport as it pushes for inclusion in global competitions. Now actively recruiting more players for both the national league and national championships, Henley Hawks Netball is bringing competitive men’s netball to Oxfordshire this spring.
The men were put through their paces by club coaches Lou Porter and Tamryn Settle before moving on to matchplay, ably assisted by some of the club’s female players who’ve volunteered to become training partners for the men. The Hawks squad, who will be competing in both the national league and national championships this summer, held their first training session earlier this month and the turnout was impressive with even more players registered to attend upcoming sessions, including one on Sunday 23rd April 2023.
The club has been encouraging men to play netball and, over the last twelve months, their monthly mixed netball tournaments have been a huge success, with teams taking to court for an evening of competition that’s definitely given some of the men a chance to get involved with a new sport.
But it was a chance online conversation, sparked by one of the club’s coaches sharing information about one of these tournaments that really accelerated the development of the men’s team.
Coach Lou Porter said: “When one of our coaches shared details of our tournaments on Twitter, EMMNA replied to say why didn’t we put a team together for the national championships. That got us all thinking and we decided that, given the talent and enthusiasm of the men we see every month at our mixed tournaments, we should definitely develop that and see what we could do. Netball is a brilliant sport and the whole club is passionate about getting as many people, of all ages and genders, on court.”
From there, the club started advertising for male players and also secured a spot in the new men’s national league and the men’s squad will now be brought into the club’s training programme as they prepare for their upcoming matches.
Jacob Kirby, 21, from Sonning Common, first gave netball a try a year ago at a Henley Hawks mixed netball tournament and has come to netball after coxing at Henley Royal Regatta as well as for the GB Rowing junior team. Speaking after the session, he said: “The stereotypical view of netball is that it’s a slow, static game when that couldn’t be further from the truth. The speed and the physicality of the sport make it a real challenge and skills and tactics involved add a whole other level. The guys in the squad have a wide range of sporting backgrounds, some hadn’t ever tried netball before this session, but everyone worked really hard and I am already looking forward to the national championships in August not to mention the national league in autumn when we can all represent Henley on a bigger stage.”
Club Chair Totie Thomas said: “It was hugely encouraging to see men of all ages, ability, knowledge and fitness come along and give it their all! The talent and potential we have is just fantastic and we can’t wait to see what they can go and achieve! This is an incredibly exciting time for the club, and for men’s netball.”
If you’d like to come along to a men’s squad session, or if you’d like details of any of the other sessions Henley Hawks Netball run for adults and juniors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org