It may not generate the level of press or commercial attention afforded to football, rugby or cricket, but netball has certainly come along way since it was invented in London by a Swedish-born women’s suffrage campaigner. More than 100,000 people play the sport at least once a week in different parts of the country. An Active People survey published by Sport England in June revealed the number of over-16s who play netball every week has grown from 122,000 to 151,000.
Netbusters players in action at Ferndale Community Centre (Photo: Brixton Blog)
One group doing its bit to encourage more Brixton residents to take up the game is a South London-based collective known as Netbusters. The group, who run netball clinics and 15 netball leagues across the capital, recently hosted a fundraising tournament for Brixton Soup Kitchen. The
event was set up to raise funds for the charity’s work with Brixton’s most hard-up citizens. Amy McCluskey, Netbusters league manager who ‘developed a passion’ for the game during her university years, believes netball’s appeal is on the rise in many London communities including Brixton.
Netbusters league manager Amy McCluskey (Photo: Brixton Blog)
“It doesn’t get as much coverage as other sports, but I do think netball’s popularity is on the increase”, says Amy (pictured to the right). “Sky Sports are covering netball a lot more than they used to and now they broadcast Monday night games.
Earlier on this year I went to the Superleague final
to watch Surrey Storm verses Hertfordshire Mavericks.
“It was a great game to watch. The level of athleticism was amazing and it was a sell-out crowd. It was a real testament to how the sport is growing here. Part of my role at Netbusters is to manage our netball leagues and get more people to take up the game.
“One of our first leagues was set up in Brixton and the one we run here (at Ferndale Community Centre) is our most popular one. So when we set up this tournament on behalf of Brixton Soup Kitchen, we had a lot of local support including backing from local companies such as Brixton Brewery and Renaissance Pubs”.
Solomon Smith, Brixton Soup Kitchen’s genial founder welcomed Netbusters backing for his charity. Since 2013 the organisation has served meals to more than 10,000 of Brixton’s most deprived residents.
“The social media for this event went absolutely crazy, but it’s great because it’s all been in support of a good cause”, said Solomon (pictured below). “Aside from Netbusters, we’ve been working with 5aside and Brixton Recreation Centre. It’s been quite good for us as we’ve been able to use our partnerships to help the people we reach to keep fit.”
Brixton Soup Kitchen founder Solomon Smith (second from the right) with his colleagues.
Follow Brixton Soup Kitchen and Netbusters on Twitter via @BrixSoupKitchen or @Netbusters_org.