WALKING NETBALL: Seniors can enjoy the social fitness program which is expanding across Australia.
WALKING NETBALL: Seniors can enjoy the social fitness program which is expanding across Australia. Netball Queensland

Walking netball courts seniors

NETBALL has jumped on the modified sport bandwagon with programs that offer women and men the chance to get back on the court for a social and active experience.

Walking netball allows participants to play for recreational fitness while others can aspire to enter competitions such as State carnivals and the Australian Masters Games.

The pace of the game is slower, reducing the chance of injury, and some of the rules take into consideration putting less stress on ankles and knees. Since Walking Netball started in Australia about 18 months ago, Queensland has set-up both all-ages and over 6os programs across 21 locations, with another 10 to start during 2019. NSW has 20 locations, so far.

"Some participants say they prefer to play with people around their same age," Netball Queensland's Walking Netball coordinator Rhonda Newton said.

The rules of seven-aside Walking Netball include keeping one foot on the ground at all times, banning running and jumping, keeping at least one metre between you and your opponent when defending, having four seconds to throw the ball, taking an extra step which avoids sudden stopping, and unlimited rolling substitutions.

The teams are usually made up on the day so anyone can turn up and have a chance of joining in. This means a senior can come to play as often as their availability allows rather than being locked in to play each week.

The length of a quarter varies. Queensland rules allow for about 12 to 15 minutes, while the NSW rules are for six minutes each quarter. As to the break time between quarters, Ms Newton said: "It's pretty much how long they chat for."

"For people who haven't exercised for a long time, they may not be able to play an entire quarter, so they can come on and off the court as they see fit.

"It's very relaxed, very social," she added.

"Walking netball brings back the girl whom forgets the cancer, the bad knees, back and ankles and who flies like an angel; I surely missed her," Melinda from Brisbane wrote.

"I've never had so much fun in my life," Rosie from Brisbane's Chermside added. "For the first time, in a long time, I am smiling and laughing and having fun. I'm talking to people I would never have met and I am making friends. Anxiety can be such a crippling disease but when I'm playing I feel supported and welcomed and for that brief hour the anxiety disappears and I feel normal." 

The cost of participation varies between venues, but is generally about $12 a game.

The only equipment required is running shoes or sneakers and comfortable clothes.

"It's focused on safety, fun and fitness as we want everybody to play it for as long as possible so we try to take the competitiveness out to reduce the injuries," Ms Newton said.

For more details and to find your local centre, contact Queensland Netball at qld.netball.com.au/walking-netball/ or phone 0439 706 077, or for Netball NSW go to nsw.netball.com.au/walking-netball or phone (02) 9951 5000.

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