Is Fast5 a potential route into the Olympics for netball?

Last Updated: 15/10/19 1:35pm

Watch the highlights of the Fast5 final between Loughborugh Lightning and Wasps
Watch the highlights of the Fast5 final between Loughborugh Lightning and Wasps

In this column, Tamsin Greenway reflects on the British Fast5 All-Star Championships which took place on Saturday and ponders whether the tournament is a potential route into the Olympic Games for netball?

The Olympics is not another World Cup, it's not another Commonwealth Games… it's the Olympics.

Personally for me, the Olympics are about the gold medals, the athletes, the historic moments and they're about sitting down and watching events and stars that you don't necessarily see regularly.

If you look at some of the other tournaments within it, like football as an example, their length, the teams entered and the nature of other more meaningful competitions for the sport, means that it can be easy to lose a little interest.

Instead of a 10-day competition - which is what netball would need, and after the recent World Cup even that is up for debate - I think there's an opportunity to put a shorter tournament format within the Olympics and I think that a version of Fast5 could work quite well.

Watch the highlights of the Fast5 final between Loughborugh Lightning and Wasps
Watch the highlights of the Fast5 final between Loughborugh Lightning and Wasps

We know we need some of the bigger nations playing our sport and a game like this could easily crossover into places like USA, China and the European countries where basketball is popular due to the similar elements - the long-bomb shooting and five players on court.

There's potentially scope for it to be a mixed sport too, taking inspiration from indoor nets. That, being mixed, again ticks boxes to get netball into the Olympics or you could easily have both men's and women's competitions

I think that it has got legs, to keep being explored. Fast5 is a real spectacle and no one can deny that it's is not entertaining. It's a short, sharp, action-packed tournament and it could be really exciting within a major Olympic Games.

I'm aware of the negatives, too similar to basketball, not enough traditional netball, why do we have to change our sport? However, with a few tweaks I still think that Fast5 is close enough to our game for a major competition and more importantly could shine with in it.

"In an ideal world, would it be great to have netball [in its full form] in the Olympics? Of course it would. But, we have to be realistic about the changes, funding and exposure that would have to be put in above the sport and around the world for that to happen."

Tamsin Greenway

As someone who is glued to the Rugby World Cup at the moment, I'm equally glued when the Rugby Sevens is on in a tournament format with the World Series. Here's a team sport that has got its product spot on and has gathered momentum in lots of different nations.

You just wonder if Fast5 is a quicker, better route into the question that we keep asking?

British Fast5 All-Star Championships

Lightning celebrate winning the British Fast5 All-Stars Championships 2019

After the brilliance of Saturday's British Fast5 All-Stars Championships, let's start by looking at the standout players... enter Jo Harten.

She was worth her weight in gold and was absolutely incredible. In the final, she just didn't look under pressure at all and that points tally! Sara Bayman had joked earlier in the day that Jo was earning her money and she really was.

I think that bringing in the imports for the competition is great. It gives worldwide exposure and credibility. Bringing in someone as classy as Harten, who lives up to the expectations, proves what a truly world-class player she is.

What I loved was how she warmed up through the day, how she kept on shooting long range and by the time it came to the final she absolutely delivered.

MVP Jo Harten celebrates after a stunning day of Fast5 netball

I was also impressed but not surprised by all of the options she opened up in the attack end bearing in mind, bar a few, Loughborough had a fairly young inexperienced Fast5 squad.

Although it was the Jo Harten show in the final, I'd just like to talk about the work of Jas Odeogberin in defence.

She got some crucial turnover in that game against Wasps and she was totally fearless totally complimenting Sam May.

That's why I was so vocal about wanting to see these new England players at Fast5 because if Jas, an England age group representative was that good, imagine also seeing players like Quashie, Adio, Fisher and Carter among many others too.

Celtic Dragons

Tania Hoffman's side turned heads at the Copper Box Arena

Another standout for me were Celtic Dragons, led by the shooting masterclass of Lucy Herdman.

They overcame three players being delayed, starting the first game with just seven, to make it through to the semi-finals, where they almost beat Lightning. This during their first outing at Fast5 - they were impressive.

Herdman has played England NETS before so she's known again for her long-bomb shooting. She's still a young player and has had small amounts of opportunity in the Superleague so it'll be interesting to see how this translates into this season.

Surrey Storm

As for standout teams, mine was Surrey Storm.

Interestingly they didn't go big on their All-Stars, bearing in mind they brought in Sharni Layton last year, instead they had Karyn Bailey, their new signing from Mavericks, and Yasmin Parsons as their All-Star picks.

As a team, they just gelled. They were playing as a group and I also think the way that Karyn Bailey slotted in - she is a good signing for them this season.

They got straight through to the semi-final and were only really beaten there by the brilliance of Rachel Dunn and the overall experience of Wasps.

But, I was impressed with them and when you are thinking about how things may convert through to Superleague, their performance is something to take note of.

Keep an eye out for Part II of this week's column as Tamsin reflects on the rules of Fast5 and whether any can and/or should be translated and adopted into the full format of the game.