And we’re off…

It’s been a little silent from us (your NW Regional Management Board) for the past year but we are back online and want to ensure you know the silence doesn’t mean nothing has been happening!

We are your newly elected Chair and Vice-Chair of the Regional Management Board – having been involved in the North West for a few years now, with a strong sense of pride for our Region and its 9000+ members, how could we refuse to stand!  Our role as a board continues to centre on developing our great game from grass roots right through to the next generation of ‘Unite in Red’ role models via the 6 strands with the following Technical Support Group (TSG) Leads:

  • Finance and Business (Lorraine Weekes-Bailey)
  • Competition (Estelle Graham)
  • Performance (Sue Day)
  • Officiating (Mary Slade)
  • Marketing and Communication (Roberta Micci)
  • Coaching (Vacant – we will be advertising, so keep an eye out if you want to join us!)

You have elected us as your representatives to ensure our great game continues to grow, and we want to maintain our #NWisbest status working with our England Netball Regional Staff team, County Netball Associations and Manchester Thunder.

There seems to be a myth that Netballers get the Summer ‘off’.  Not sure if you think that, but we are definitely busier than ever using this time to get everything ready for the year ahead!

Our Marketing and Communications Chair, Roberta Micci, has some exciting plans to ensure we shout about and celebrate, more than ever before, the successes achieved by our #NetballFamily.

On Saturday we held our first planning meeting, and discussed dates for courses and relevant meetings to coordinate events across the Region more effectively.  When everything is finalised key dates will be shown on our NW Netball website Competition Calendar and Courses.

Our aim this year is to improve our communication. We welcome your feedback (via your Netball Development Officer or through your County Netball Association Committee) about how you think we are doing and ways in which we can improve our communication to you, our members.

Good luck with your 2016/17 Netball season.

Yours in Netball,

Imo Greatbatch & Laura Rodgers

2016/17 Chair & Vice-Chair of NW Netball Regional Management Board

A day in the life of….

Regional Management Board Volunteer, Technical Support Group (TSG) Chair for Competitions, Estelle Graham, gives her insight into volunteering at the England Netball National Schools Finals that took place 14 March in Ellesmere Port. Over to Estelle…
This year, the national schools finals was hosted in Cheshire once more at Whitby high in Ellesmere Port. Easy to find, loads of indoor space and 9 very good outdoor courts. England Netball advertised for trainee tournament referees, with funding for young netballers – that means 24 or under! Being twice that age, it didn’t stop me applying – got to be in it to win it right?
My application was successful and I met with the Competition Manager Ian Holloway and 2 of the 3 referees on Friday night for a briefing where we talked through the info pack sent to the schools.
Now as Competition lead for the Region, I have managed a few tournaments but the national schools has a much bigger budget and staffing.
  • Venue – paid for school staff to man gates, sort parking etc although I did do a stint on the street corner in a high vis.
  • Food – school canteen opened up and provided great indoor space for spectators and athletes to eat lunch and stay warm.
  • Sound system – hired in to ensure the MC for the day could be heard across the 9 courts.
  • Photography – these guys were very busy a full schedule of timings per school throughout the day and there were lots of purchases.
  • Umpires and court managers – a huge team of umpires scheduled across the courts along with 6 court managers in charge of everything court side including team management, extra time timings and parent control. When you think you need 18 umpires per round and there are 23 rounds plus semis and finals, that’s some manpower needed.
  • Event office staff, which included 5 volunteers from cheshire – 2 court runners and the others running the timing and scoring system. The event staff from England Netball – Ian, Olivia – who managed all the daft things during the day – couldn’t open a gate so Ian took his tool kit and repaired it for example; ensuring there was loo roll in the appropriate places.
  • Tournament referees – Pam, Mary, Jan and me to shadow.
The day started with registration – each referee manning an age group desk (paperwork all checked and supplied by EN Staff, which is one big difference between our Regional and County events). I manned the scorer sign in table and helped distribute bags and new balls which schools receive. Interesting to observe the experienced schools – lots of familiar hello’s and hugs versus the first timers with lots of nervous questions. We did our best to put them guys at ease.
Court areas where checked and back to event office to chase up the odd scorer who hadn’t signed in and before you know it the first warning is rang and nearly 8 hours of netball starts.
I joined Pam on a walk around, who used to actually put the National Schools event on before England Netball took over and has a region so large that their regional round is just as big as the national event. She asked me could I see any problems in the U19 court area – oh goodness, I need to impress so pointed out the obvious which turned out to be the right answer. Phew I thought.
We moved a few people into the correct area on the courts, got Ian out to sort the gate, said a few hellos then went back to the event office awaiting any issues to deal with. On the issues side, we were very quiet and Pam explained that’s how most events are. However the referees are essential for those unexpected decisions or incident management that may just happen when 48 teams from all over the country are playing in a full day tournament.
I spent the rest of the day keeping busy. Making sure my mentors had tea, supporting the scorers with a second pair of eyes, lots of questions to the referees about their experiences at other events, doing court walks (manned with a bin bag just in case) and yes I did a stint filling up the loos with toilet roll.
I also liaised with Cheshire Police who attended to assist with the parking and managing the roads at the 3pm exodus when the round robin was over.
Then came the semi and finals – each referee manned a court although the court managers were in charge of extra time timing if it occurred. I watched the NW teams – Hulme in U14 then Fallibroome in U16 – both got through to finals. I watched Fallibroome in the finals – of course I would they are from Cheshire and they won! Then I turned around to see Hulme going into extra time. An amazing 4 mins of netball saw Hulme come back from 2 goals down to win!
Whilst these games were going on, the event staff set up the presentation which the new CEO, Jo Adams, came to present. I watched the thank you’s and umpire presentation but then got busy, helping clear up the venue – many hands and all that!
After arriving at 7.15, armed with the milk for the umpires and leaving at 18.45, walking 26,000 steps, I mulled over my experience on the drive home. The volume is much bigger than anything I organise with budget to suit. Paid staff have months to prepare and that shows in the professionalism and great feedback about how well run the event is, and I gained a better understanding of what can be achieved.
I also realised that the NW and Counties do a great job as volunteers organising our events in between work. For me, I learnt you need several heads to look at potential problems and discuss issues before making decisions but all in all, netball is a team sport and that includes the back office managing and hosting the competition.
What did I take away from this experience? I need to carry a tool box, ensure the right volunteers are around and make sure the day after is free for a pyjama day to recover!

Chair gives birth to beautiful baby girl so Vice-Chair gets the Regional Baton

As your baton-wielding blog-loving Vice-Chair, I’d like to tackle the criticism about the lack of communication and dissemination of information to members. This blog is for you, if you care about Netball but know little or nothing about the Regional Board or committee volunteer roles beyond your club or county.

A few key facts about the North West Netball Region:

  • It embraces six counties: Cheshire, Cumbria, Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and the Isle of Man
  • 9267 participants (11% of National participant total)
  • 1044 organisations (12% of National total) and 314 of which are Netball Clubs.

The Chairs of all nine English Regions meet face to face or via conference call four times a year to receive updates, share good practice and discuss common challenges and to meet staff from England Netball, such as the new Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Phase 1 Arriving and Networking

My first meeting and I’m late (stressful West Coast overhead line issues sent me all over the West Midlands!): what sort of reception would I get? Inhibitions blown out the window by a lovely warm welcome, and Janet (Chair of the forum) got everyone to introduce themselves.  Phew!

Lunch was an opportunity to hear a few stories about how each of the board members got involved.  Delighted to see how passionate everyone is about promoting netball (and secretly wanting their own region to be the best!).

Phase 2 The 6 hour Forum

How to summarise six hours of discussion? Starting with structure and channels of communication.  They should work as follows: affiliated members feed information up to their counties, the county representatives feed into the relevant Technical Support Groups (TSGs) and these feed back up to the Regional Management Board (that Shirley is Chair and I am Vice-Chair).  We take this – and other items – to England Netball via this Regional Chairs Forum from which we then filter information back down: several balls to be juggled!  If you want to know more about any of the items below, you can speak to the area’s Regional TSG lead or get in touch with me (names of other Board member are on North West website).

Impressive turnout from England Netball staff including Jo Adams (Interim CEO), Paul Clark (former CEO and now Performance Lead), Amy Willis (National Development Manager – Regional Implementation) Vicky Annis (Director of Finance and Corporate Resources) and Stephanie Pippin (Director of HR), also on the Agenda was Beth Jones (Children and Young People Manager) and her protégé Youth Advisory Group Chair, Charlotte Rose.

GOVERNANCE ACTION PLAN UPDATE, it was agreed that information would be rolled out in readiness for September seeking applicants for the roles of Chair and President. As to the Constitution and legal structures of each Regional group, England Netball (EN) is asking Sport England what guidance is appropriate, particularly after April.

From early February the EN website will have an important new section on Compliance and Inclusion, with information on equality and diversity. A key section that will also signpost those involved with disciplinary panels to the long awaited ‘online training’ (very good news!). There is more good news about MyNet – EN have an insight team extracting and processing data which should help provide clearer information to Regions (yippeee, as this is a big item we have been pushing for).  Recent appointments to help with all this include a Disability Manager (Sheonah Forbes) and a Capital Investment and Facility Lead (Charlotte Malyon).


With the spotlight from HM Revenue & Customs on sports coaches (guidance on the sports coach UK website) and the tax affairs of organisations, England Netball invited Pay Coach, to present to the Chairs on their offer of bespoke umbrella services to ensure all involved comply with HMRC tax regulations and with payroll legislation.


Set-up in 2009 to give a voice to the youth of Netball gathering feedback and insight from young netballers.  Thirteen appointees regularly meet and discuss items with the England Netball staff. There are then two further strands: Pass On Your Passion Volunteers – POYP (12 – 25 year olds) who are volunteer coaches, umpires or administrators out and about and Youth Advisors (aged 9 – 25 years old) who don’t want to volunteer out on the ground but would like to share their thoughts and ideas with England Netball.  The North West has been represented on this group by Natasha Walker.  As a Region we have 122 POYP volunteers and 80 Youth Advisors.


Paul Clark gave an overview of the current position regarding nine Regional Performance Academies, fourteen Regional Academies and the one independent Regional Academy (Barking Abbey). He talked through recent discussions with Sport England and will be planning meetings with the Performance TSG leads and Regional Chairs to discuss the model and future. Aim is for all young girls to know the pathway to take should they want to play for England, and how they can reach their full potential.


Key updates from the Development team detailed how well Netball were doing after our Big Summer of Netball via their internal measures (e.g. grant applications and website data). Reviewed against some of the past external Sport England measures (Active People Survey, APS). Amy highlighted the fact EN are currently recruiting for a National Development Manager – Regional Implementation (who will oversee all the Regional Managers) due to her move to the role of National Manager – Coaching and Officiating to cover maternity leave. We also heard about an exciting new ‘ThisGIRLcan’ Sport England campaign, launched this week, to inspire women not currently exercising to get into sport and be active. There are loads of opportunities being promoted but we need to ensure we shout about them coming and playing netball!


All the Regional Umpiring TSG leads have attended a meeting together and the main two areas discussed were Course fees and the Assessors course. You should be hearing more about this from Gill Henderson or your County Umpiring leads once they have met.

Phase 3 Reflections during the journey home

I have broken all the rules by making this such a long blog (but if you are still with me  – well done!). My top three reflections:

  • Making things happen takes a long time.  Some of the things that are starting to take shape were being discussed when I worked for England Netball (nearly 10 years ago!) but the important element is they are taking shape.
  • There are a lot of passionate people working hard giving their time behind the scenes to grow and develop our great game of Netball at all levels.
  • Don’t be afraid to get involved and make a difference.  I was nervous about giving my input, but I walked away feeling my contributions were valued.

We will monitor feedback and reader numbers to determine if a blog such as this is an effective way to keep you in the loop. Suggestions are welcome!