Following England Netball’s new partnership with the England Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (EMMNA), and World Netball’s recently launched strategic plan, which sets out a goal to embrace men and boy’s netball through collaboration and support, last week we spoke to EMMNA President Ryan Allan about the importance of growing men’s and mixed netball around the world.
Allan founded EMMNA in 2019, and held its first initial group meeting, of five people, in January 2020 and since then the organisation has made significant progress
The President commented: “We first met ahead of the pandemic at a coffee shop in Stratford, London, and it’s just incredible to think that that team of five that met to have a chat about what we would do to start to get things moving within months has grown, we’re now a team of 20 volunteers.”
Fast forward to December 2021, and EMMNA has already secured a partnership with England Netball, which will see both organisations join forces to develop and grow the men’s and mixed game in England.
To achieve a partnership like this in such a short space of time is something that the whole EMMNA team is extremely proud of.
“It’s been such a big year for us, we had the first national tournament, to crown the first national men’s and mixed champion, and then that flowed through to this partnership with England Netball.”, said Allan.
“Did we think it would happen in this period of time? Not at all, I think we had it in our five-year strategy.
“The reaction from the Netball Family has been extremely positive, there has not been one negative comment.
“We have received lots of supportive words, we have been getting congratulations messages and lots of positive messages from all parts of the netball world, which has been extremely exciting to see.
“We couldn’t have hoped for it to go any better, the response has been incredible.”
With the new partnership EMMNA had the opportunity for two of the top competitive men’s teams, London Giants and Knight’s Men, to play matches against a Roses Development side at the recent Roses Reunited Series.
Both Giants and Knights were victorious in their matches, with scores of 57 – 45 and 54 – 47 respectively.
Allan commented: “This opportunity to play in front of such a big audience and for it to be promoted from the national governing body, England Netball, has given such significant exposure, the number of emails and people that have reached out not only to the England Men’s and Mixed Netball Association, but also to clubs saying ‘we didn’t realise men played competitively’, or ‘we really want to play,’ has been fantastic.”
Over 1,600 people watched the first match, involving Giants, at the Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.
“It was also great to see so many young boys on the weekend.
“We invited quite a few on the Saturday and they absolutely loved it and for them to see men playing netball at that level, it gives them something to go ‘oh, I can do it,’ and ‘it’s not unique, I’m not different’.
“We want to inspire the next generation of netballers to come through.”
This collaboration aligns with World Netball’s recently launched Strategic Plan which outlines a vision to ensure netball is a sport that is open to all, and as part of the ‘Play’ strategy agrees a goal to embrace boys’ and men’s participation in netball through collaboration and support.
Allan was full of praise for World Netball’s new vision and mission, he said: “This collaboration and support from the world governing body is absolutely essential, it’s almost a metaphor for netball, in netball you can’t win with just one good player and six other players, you’ve got to play as a full team.
“In netball, as a community, we need to work together, collaborate together and work as a team to achieve our goals.
“You can’t just have one nation going out there and leading the way, we all need to do it together and this is where World Netball, when they launched their new strategy and added the participation of boys’ and men it was so important for that to be seen.”
Allan and EMMNA would now like to offer this support and collaboration to other nations, who are trying to develop their own men’s and mixed netball.
“For other netball nations that want to look to grow and create opportunities for men, our advice would be to look within yourself to do it first, you need to get organised, you need to put a structure in place, talk to your governing body, ask them for advice, let them know that you’re not here to take anything away from them.
“We’re not here to take over, we’re here to grow the sport, as a whole, and by doing that, and working together, we’re going to create opportunities for absolutely everyone.
“If any of them want to reach out and talk about how we did it, want advice or to look at our strategy or structure, we are more than happy to do that.
“We’re a world netball family and we’re trying to work towards the same goal.”
To find out more about the new EMMNA and England Netball partnership click here.
To visit EMMNA’s website click here.