In a joint alliance between the Netball New Zealand and the Australian Netball Fitness Organisation NETFIT, New Zealanders interested in learning netball skills, fitness. and wellbeing will not have to look far.
NETFIT is run by Kim Green from the Australian Diamonds and the ex-netballer, Sarah Wall. Named the NETFIT NZ, this programme will be fronted by Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman and sports host Courtney Tairi, who also used to play for the the New Zealand team.
Through virtual sessions aired three times a week on Sky Sport and NETFIT’s website, the ladies will be able to interact with viewers through a variety of experiences, without breaking any of the lockdown rules in Australia.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday afternoons, the two-hour programme will be divided into workouts, skills, nutrition, and well-being segments, with special appearances by world champions Irene Dyk and Katrina Rore. Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua will helm one session per week from her home in Bay of Plenty.
Lagman noted the rather bizarre situation of bringing guests into the Sunshine Coast home during the pandemic, especially to watch her cook and exercise.
She shares with LockerRoom that she is quite inexperienced in the kitchen and calls her cooking segment “kind of ironic”.
But for both kids and adults who are stuck at home during the nationwide lockdown, the programme could not have come at a better time. Beyond bringing entertainment and educational content on fitness and staying active to these audiences, the sport, like many others, is also finding ingenious ways to engage fans and stay afloat in this global crisis. This community-driven initiative is one such example of their efforts.
Langman states, “With the current environment, exercise is the first thing to go — when it’s probably the first thing that you need”.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, she is still gearing up and remains optimistic about a Super Netball season with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
She adds, “I’ve had a few messages from clubs and parents asking me to send videos to keep up-comers inspired in training during COVID-19. The idea of NETFIT is getting people active, and giving kids skills, ideas — and confidence in the kitchen to be independent and not rely on Mum. It’s really cool.”
It is interesting to note that the pandemic did not birth this programme, which is 18 months in the making, though the lockdown did speed up its delivery, combined with some creative adjustments. Netball NZ has been striving to bring the concept to New Zealand, and finally succeeded in exporting the programme from Australia for the first time ever.
The Australian programme is a hit with sign-up numbers reaching 65,000. The founder of NETFIT noticed a gap in the market for netball fitness and launched the business seven years ago.
Wall, who calls herself “an average elite netballer” despite having played for teams like the Phoenix, Firebirds, and Vixens, Swifts, and Giants across 12 years, believes netball is in her DNA.
But she is no longer chasing the thrill of the competitive sport and prefer to focus on giving back to the netball community. She believes that in tough times like these, netballers can get in touch with their teams online and plan for workouts together.
“Girls can go off and play for their teams, but this is a home base they come back to and get what they need,” she adds.
Tairi agrees with Wall, whom she’s known for 10 years off the court. “We share the same goals to bring something special to young females. We both know how fortunate we’ve been to be sportswomen and we want to pass on the knowledge and skills that we’ve learned.” They connected through a programme for indigenous girls in Australia.
Netball NZ CEO Jennie Wyllie believes introducing the ANZ-sponsored NETFIT NZ is a “positive step forward in unprecedented circumstances”. With further support from partners NZ Police, Special K, and Netball Smart, the future in the virtual realm looks bright for the sport.
Meanwhile, Tairi, who has been running clinics and master classes for NETFIT Australia for the past few years, has her home ready for her virtual fitness clinics. With her camera and laptop, she believes that this way, a more meaningful connection can be made by stepping into viewers’ homes and vice versa.