Netball Expert & Columnist
Netball doesn't need to be afraid of change, says Tamsin Greenway
Last Updated: 09/03/20 9:19am
In this week's column, Tamsin Greenway looks back at Monday's thriller between London Pulse and Surrey Storm, discusses the vital importance of supporting the Vitality Superleague and the sport embracing change.
What a match it was between London Pulse and Surrey Storm!
It certainly was not a traditional goal-for-goal game. Instead, we witnessed Pulse dominate the first quarter and Storm's big fightback in the second which set up an intense and tightly contested second half.
I could not call the winners in the last quarter. I was sitting courtside and was certain Storm had it in the bag in the last few minutes… and then Pulse charged!
One of the highlights for me was London Pulse's defence, again. They were outstanding at the Season Opener in Birmingham when they kept Sirens to 67 per cent shooting accuracy and this week they shone again.
With Lindsay Keable and Halimat Adio combining together in the first half, they were really structured in terms of how they were turning ball. Then, the introduction of Funmi Fadoju changed the game.
She got four huge tips in last quarter. She's a natural ball-winner and that's something that you can't teach, it's exciting to watch.
Pulse are certainly building their culture around their young home-grown players and we are seeing that in practice with Sam Bird's selection choices and trust in her bench.
The head coach is backing her starting players to deliver and then she is backing players to come off the bench and make an impact.
With so many youngsters, it might cost them the odd game or two but that will not matter in the long run when it comes to their development.
Pulse have not been tested yet by the 'big' teams but getting victories under their belts now is really important. With wins comes confidence and that means when they do meet some of the league's more experienced sides, they will do so without fear and with momentum.
In all, it was an outstanding game of netball on Monday night and a great one to have live on Sky Sports.
Now, you may have noticed a tweet or two of mine at the weekend as a Twitter conversation started about fans and players following Superleague matches on social media.
With a couple of days before Monday evening's live game, and after the thrills of the Season Opener, the conversation turned again to asking for more.
What's really important to me is to talk about it, and to start to understand how fans of the Superleague can help change things now to have an immediate (and positive) impact on our domestic game.
Usoro-Brown: Bright future for Fadoju
Eboni Usoro-Brown hailed Funmi Fadoju's work on Monday night as the teenager shone for London Pulse.
We all know fans of the Superleague are keen to see more and have more matches live across a Superleague weekend, but first and foremost I think we have to support what we have got, right here and right now. After lots of Twitter chat, there were three key areas I looked at.
First, watch and engage with the Superleague netball that's already being shown live on Sky Sports and on YouTube. Blow the ratings out the water, and do that for every single game of the domestic season.
Also, let's all increase the conversation around the fact that it's there too. Let's keep on sharing fixtures' timings and that netball is now available on YouTube - let's get people into the mindset that watching netball online is also a great way to watch it.
Secondly attend matches; buy your individual match tickets or season tickets and fill clubs' stands.
If your son or daughter has been on a school trip and loved it, take them to another match if you can. If you live close by to a Superleague franchise, put the matches into your diaries and go and support.
Round Three results and fixtures
|Friday||Sirens 61-53 Storm|
|Team Bath 62-51 Wasps|
|Saturday||Saracens Mavericks 61-45 Stars|
|Thunder 67-64 Lightning|
|Monday||Pulse vs Dragons||7pm - Live on Sky Sports & YouTube|
The third part is the sport communicating and having these honest conversations about why there are over 300,000 people playing netball every fortnight (according to the latest Active Lives Adult Survey) but the attendances and ratings at Superleague matches do not match up to that.
We need to start getting to the bottom of this by asking the right questions and getting honest answers back about why people play netball, but do not always fully engage with the performance side.
From the conversation I had on social media there were some really interesting answers.
When it comes to Superleague fixtures, and this is something for clubs and the league's organisers to look at, the scheduling of them clashes with so many other things.
For netballers who are playing week in and week out, Superleague fixtures clash with their games. There are league matches of all levels on at the same time as Superleague. How can these people, the ones we want to get involved with the sport, link in and enjoy Superleague netball?
Also, with teams playing at different times each round, it means fans struggle to earmark a particular afternoon/day/evening in their diaries for Superleague matches. Having families and a busy social lives makes it near impossible for them.
As a whole, the structure of netball's calendar, is something I think needs developing. If there's a clear link from the top, all the way down, that would make regularly engaging with the Superleague easier.
At the moment, netballers seem to be taking a day or night out of their week to train or play but do noy always seem to be taking another one out to watch.
Do we change the seasons around? Do we amend the calendar? Do we market to children a lot younger so it's natural that they're coming and watching matches on a weekly basis? Do we make Sunday the Superleague day?
Wasps gain first win of new season
Wasps Netball secured their first win of the season with a hard-fought 57-53 victory over Saracens Mavericks at Ricoh Arena.
There are lots of different options to explore and I think we need to have those honest conversations and explore them in full.
I've said it before, but netball does not need to be afraid of change.
We know we get big attendances and ratings for the large events like a Season Opener and a World Cup, but for our sport to continue to be successful it has to accelerate domestically.
I do not think there's anything wrong in exploring how some things can be tweaked. For lots of people change can be seen as a real threat and it should not be. We need to look at these big topics, take new ideas and try them.
Right now, if you really want to make a difference, then please start watching the games, record them if you can't watch or watch back on YouTube.
Talk about the Superleague matches, engage and with them and get your friends to watch them too. We always talk about our amazing netball family and together we really can make a difference.
Coverage of the Vitality Netball Superleague season continues with Round Three on Monday, March 9 when London Pulse entertain Celtic Dragons. Join us on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 6.45pm