The inaugural Clubs Open Doors Week in September 2018 gave local communities across Scotland the opportunity to try 76 new sports and activities for free.
The initiative, which marked UK Active’s European Week of Sport and the Year of Young People, saw activities take place at 287 hubs and clubs.
One club that used the initiative as a launchpad for development was Biggar Netball Club, which is fast becoming a valuable addition to the local community in rural Lanarkshire.
Founder and chair, Judith Stewart, said:
“This project will be a huge benefit to young people in the local area as it will provide them with the opportunity to play netball both recreationally and competitively in a rural community.”
Judith launched the club after identifying a lack of youth netball opportunities for players looking to progress from school to club activities. This led to the forming of the new netball club, the first in the Clydesdale area.
The club is part of Biggar Community Sports Hub, a flagship sportscotland programme using funding from The National Lottery to bring sports clubs and local partners together to provide more opportunities for sport in local areas.
In collaboration with Active Schools Coordinator Leah Wilson, the hub has formed strong partnerships with local schools and it was through these that the demand for extra netball opportunities was recognised.
From receiving South Lanarkshire club accreditation, to promoting and signposting the club within the schools, Active Schools has played a valuable role in supporting the launch of the club.
With support from their schools, former Young Ambassadors (one of whom is now a member of the Young People’s Sport Panel) successfully received funding through the Spirit of 2012 Thrive Challenge Fund. The fund has gone towards the school running a Netball Scotland Leaders Course, allowing students to deliver netball in the primary and secondary schools, as well as the club. The pair also help assist Judith and the other coaches with the sessions at the weekends.
Pathway to success
Through engagement with schools, the open day welcomed 30 young aspiring players to Biggar Sports Centre for coaching, with the added bonus of an appearance from Scottish international and Strathclyde Sirens player Emily Nicholl.
A former pupil of Biggar High School, Emily has been made club patron and hopes her career and links with the area can help inspire more girls to get active and get involved with netball in the area.
She said: “As a local girl, I would have loved to have played at club level for Biggar and the wider community. The talent in the area is really exciting so hopefully the club can play its part in boosting the number of rural-based players in the national system.”