July 29, 2021

Greenway: It’s about having a big season and a big year

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Tamsin Greenway

Netball Expert & Columnist

The Scottish Thistles head coach and former England international believes it’s crucial to show the sporting world that the demand and desire is there to watch, stream and consume netball. Every match of the 2021 season will be broadcast across Sky Sports and England Netball platforms.

Last Updated: 10/02/21 3:43pm

The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday night from 4.45pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday night from 4.45pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix

The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday night from 4.45pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix

In this week’s column Tamsin Greenway shares her excitement at the return of the Vitality Netball Superleague and implores all fans to get fully behind the coverage in order to continue to grow the sport.

With the Vitality Netball Superleague teams all preparing behind the scenes and the Vitality Legends Series taking place in January, I know that fans across the country were really hopeful about a season happening soon.

So, when the news came that the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season will be starting this Friday, and importantly, that every match will be available for fans to watch, it was an incredible boost for lovers of netball all over the country.

We are working in such challenging times, with so many different moving parts, that reaching this point and a season going ahead, is an incredible testament to the hard work of so many.

For a long time, netball’s followers have talked a lot about their desire for every game to be available live and although it’s my dream too, I have always been very open and realistic about the barriers and challenges to doing that – it’s just not as easy as people think it is.

Now, with COVID-19 meaning that every match has to be played in a single venue, it’s opened up the possibility of being able to stream this season so that fans can be closer to the action during these difficult times.

With every game being shown live on Sky Sports or through a YouTube stream for fans in the UK and Ireland, there are no more excuses not to enjoy as much netball as possible.

Really, it’s the time for everyone to put their money where their mouth is and lap up all of the netball that’s on offer, and with the season just around the corner, that’s what I would like to talk more about now.

I have spoken before in this column about the fact that so many people play netball in England but there’s a large proportion of that group, who do not engage regularly with the Vitality Netball Superleague. The link between the participation numbers and the numbers of spectators at matches during ‘normal’ times just did not add up.

With every game now live, it’s the ideal opportunity to get people on board and for those who are already 100 per cent on board, it’s a chance for you to spread the word.

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For those of us that have been having these discussions for such a long time, for those who have been calling for more streaming, let’s not forget that there are so many more people out there who still do not know about and still don’t know where to watch it.

So, my plea now is to make sure that we start spreading the word about where to find the Vitality Netball Superleague’s matches and to also get really creative about watching it.

It’s crucial to show the sporting world that the demand and desire is there to watch, stream and consume netball. The sport grows as a whole, through eyeballs, exposure and engagement. It filters through to the commercial side of the game; an audience, a really big audience, brings in commercial partners for clubs and all the governing bodies.

Tamsin Greenway

So, first and foremost start talking. Tell your friends, your parents, your housemates, team-mates and let’s get the message spread far and wide about where you can find and watch netball every weekend.

Just because we know, do not assume that everyone else does – pop it on your social media channels, drop it onto a Zoom chat with a group of mates and make sure that netball is seen.

Let’s make sure that everybody we know, knows that netball is going to be on and that there’s going to be so much of it to enjoy.

Vitality Netball Superleague – Opening Weekend

Friday at 5.15pm Celtic Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos Live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on YouTube
Friday at 7.15pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Manchester Thunder Live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on YouTube
Saturday at 2pm London Pulse vs Surrey Storm Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Saturday at 4pm Team Bath Netball vs Celtic Dragons Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Saturday at 6pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Severn Stars Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Sunday at 2pm Team Bath Netball vs Loughborough Lightning Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Sunday at 4pm Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Sunday at 6pm Severn Stars vs Wasps Netball Streamed on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel
Monday at 5.15pm Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Netball Live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on YouTube
Monday at 7.15pm Leeds Rhinos Netball vs Saracens Mavericks Live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on YouTube

The second thing is to be creative with the matches and this season. I have had so many clubs and coaches who have been in touch with me over lockdown asking about how they can carry on online and keep the interest of their players. With so many matches live, this is a perfect opportunity to do just that.

Why not get clubs together and academies online? Watch the matches together, comment on them, use the YouTube feeds and the ability to watch them back, to analyse elements within online training sessions.

What about having team nights where you all get together on a Zoom call while watching the matches? You can’t all be together in person, but you can through the use of technology right now… Have team socials, put on your kit, whatever it takes – get control of that remote and tune in.

Why not come up with these different ways of building the community together? It is possible, it just takes a bit of creativity and it will be a great way of keeping that team environment alive and supporting people.

Finally, I would like to ask that you all engage with the Vitality Netball Superleague. So, don’t just watch the matches, talk about them… who was your favourite player? What team are you supporting? Who’s going to win?

Was that decision a correct one? What do you think of the style of play? With so much access to the sport our conversations and education of the sport can grow and with that so can the profile.

It’s not just about having a big first opening weekend with 10 live matches that fly, it’s about having a big season and a big year for the sport that we all love so much. If there was ever a time to jump two-footed into netball, it’s now.

Tamsin Greenway

It’s unlikely that there’s going to be another time in your life when you have this much time to sit and watch sport.

So, to get the ball rolling, here’s what I’m most looking forward to seeing on this huge opening weekend.

First, how my Scottish players perform this weekend for Strathclyde Sirens, also enjoying the debut of Donnell Wallam for Leeds Rhinos Netball and taking a closer look at Team Bath Netball’s defensive line-up.

When it comes to my game of the round, look no further than Wasps Netball versus Severn Stars after last season’s upset. I would love to hear what you are most looking forward to?

Just remember we have a real opportunity here to change our sport’s destiny. After what has been an awful 12 months, netball has been given the perfect platform to come out on top. So, ballers, it’s time to show up, sit down and get watching.

Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday at 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix, with a 10-match weekend. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.