Jo Dash is going into what she has described as uncharted territory for Ballarat.
She is bringing a new competition to Ballarat Netball Association called ‘walk ball’ in an attempt to make netball even more inclusive.
“The idea came from my husband’s cousin in London,” Dash said.
“We were there visiting and he was showing us photos of his walk soccer team – it was for people who still loved the sport, but physically just could not go out and play a game any more.
“Since then, I’ve been watching it and it has been growing so big.”
Walk ball will be played exactly the same as a standard netball game, but with one key difference – participants are not allowed to run.
Dash believed it would be especially attractive for those who had spent most of their lives playing the game and were not yet ready to give the sport up.
While the competition will be aimed at seniors or those who could not play standard netball because of injury, it is open to everyone.
“So many older netballers think, ‘I can still pass, I can still shoot, I just can’t run to that level’,” Dash said.
“Even if you haven’t played a lot of netball, I think you could pick it up easier than if you had to do full-on running.”
With Ballarat Netball Association already hosting a wide range of programs including netball from junior to elite levels and all abilities, walk ball was another good fit for an organisation that prides itself on welcoming everyone.
“Our role in the community we feel is to make things available to all sectors of the community,” Dash said.
“The main thing to why it clicked is because our motto is ‘sport for all’ so this is another avenue of saying, ‘if you want to play netball, we will find a way for you to play’.”
Ballarat Netball Association will start off experimenting with a ‘come and try’ program from July 16.
“We will learn as we go along, but the thought is it’s exactly the same as netball, two teams, goals, positions, but you’re not allowed to run,” Dash said.
“And that will be interesting and a challenge, because it will be everyone’s intention to try and run.”
Dash said the program would also be a way for seniors to get out and do some safe exercise that was socially fun in a weatherproof indoor environment.
“A lot of people, once they stop playing, that group of people sometimes lose that social contact,” Dash said.
“It’s exercise and there is still that sense of achievement, but it is also a way of bringing people together.”