Netball club launches for Sheffield girls with specialist educational needs

A team of school children from Sheffield, who all have special educational needs, have taken part in a Netball session to encourage more girls to get involved with the sport.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 3:17 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 7:29 am
SEN girls get a taster session in netball at EIS Sheffield with England Netball

Over 50 girls aged between 11 and 17 from schools across the city attended the taster session held at the English Institute of Sport on Wednesday.

Run by a coaching team from Sheffield Concord Netball Club '“ one of South Yorkshire's oldest and most successful clubs '“ with support of the South Yorkshire County Netball Association and England Netball, the session has been hailed a success. 

Helen says all the girls enjoyed the taster session

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Jade Elson, South Yorkshire Netball Development Officer said: 'The event went brilliant and Helen did a great job in organising everything, there were over 50 SEN girls taking part.'

The day forms part of an initiative developed by Helen Thorneloe, aged 60, a retired PE teacher who used to coach at Sheffield Girls High School, who came up with the idea because of her niece Jackie, who has autism and loved the sport but struggled to get involved. 

Helen said: 'Jackie wanted to do what aunt Helen did and could not find a club to attend, she lives in Scotland but I realised there was a need. Currently there are no netball clubs across the Yorkshire and the Humber region for girls with special educational needs.

'So, of the last six months I took the idea and it has developed. I put the idea out to schools with special educational needs departments and invited them to bring students to the taster day.

The new section of the netball club will begin in the new year

'Jackie was over the moon to hear we'd set this up. She was really proud that we were asking her advice and the best way to put across the different skills and explanations. She was proud to be asked to be an expert.'

Helen says it would not have been possible without the help from friend Jill Newbolt, a county netball player and PE teacher who specialises in teaching those with special needs, Richard Evans, England Netball Strategic Lead for Disability and Jade Elson.

She added: 'The day went really well, it was fantastic. We had 60 kids sign up and 18 coaching helping out. The kids loved it and we had some good feedback. We had to put a cap on attendees and had a waiting list which is a shame as not everyone could come and get involved.'

Helen's niece Jackie was on hand to help coach on the day. 

A new section of the Sheffield Concord Netball Club has now been set up to get more girls involved with the sport

Following the taster session, a new section of the Sheffield Concord Netball Club called Net4All has now been set up to encourage the SEN girls to continue the sport.

The netball club currently have teams competing across a range of different levels, so they hope to add to their successes. 

The sessions will be held monthly, starting 6-8pm on January 9.

Helen added: 'We are encouraging parents to bring girls to the club. Ideally we'd love to build up a team to hold matches, we've already got at least one signed up.

'There is something call the Marion Smith Competition, which is a tournament already set up for people with learning disabilities. That will be held in July so the aim would be to build a team for that.

'It's a national event but lucky for us it is run at the EIS.'