By Caris Horton
Men’s netball is a sport that’s rarely heard of in Australia but it’s growing in popularity as more teams are added to the national championship roster.
According to the West Coast Mixed and Men’s Netball Association, total Australian team numbers have increased by 20 teams over the last three years with WA, SA, ACT and Tasmania re-joining the national competition.
Derek Ingley, who’s a casual player, says that the allure of netball comes from the no-contact rules.
“It’s good because one of my jobs, loading newspapers, is quite physical so if I get an injury with a contact sport I am out of work but this way there is no contact and less chance of injury,” he said.
Jerome Gillbard, who’s played for six years, says the speed and athleticism of the game have appealed to him as well as the social aspect.
“As I have grown older and become more involved with the game, it’s been about meeting new people, making new friends and teammates,” he said.
Mr Gillbard says that the stigma associated with playing a traditionally female sport has decreased over the years yet many people don’t realise that men play netball.
“As the years have gone on, I have received less and less sexist or negative comments, but I do still get asked every now and again whether I play in a dress or skirt,” he said.
“Most people who I speak to that don’t play netball aren’t even aware that men play, but, once people see a game, they want to see more, or to get involved, which is really pleasing.”
The 2017 April national championship tournament will be hosted on the Gold Coast at the newly redeveloped Carrara Sports Precinct with international teams from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Pakistan expected to join.