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9 months ago

NEW NETBALL UNIVERSE

Our Brand New GROWTH &

Our Brand New GROWTH & PROGRESS!! Rhondda Netball is on a mission to bring equality to female sport in Rhondda and Rhondda Cynon Taf, and those behind the initiative make no excuses for being in something of a hurry! Out of the Rhondda Schools Netball League came the “RCT Schools Netball Championship” which now incorporates all of Rhondda Cynon Taff’s 17 secondary schools. Great things never come from comfort zones and Rhondda Netball is always looking for progress across their far-reaching operation. “If you stand still you’ll eventually go backwards,” said Operations Manager, Jody Barnes. “So it’s important that we’re always developing things and looking to make improvements so that everyone stays fully focused and motivated. The future is exciting and the growth from a schools perspective has been incredible. Secondary Schools play a vital role in their communities and in the Valley’s that role is probably more important. We love partnering with the schools and staff and we’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work together with the PE Departments to tackle some of the issues that have made it difficult to get girls consistently committed to taking part in sport in their schools.” After the exponential growth they experienced this year following a “pilot” schools structure in 2016/17, Rhondda Netball will be aiming to help each of RCT’s secondary schools develop a “netball culture” so that the RCT Schools Netball Championship is here to stay. Here is how Rhondda Netball’s schools competitions structure has grown since 2016/17... Year 1 - (The Rhondda Schools Netball League) - Treorchy Comprehensive School, Ferndale Community School, Porth County Community School, Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda, Tonypandy Community College, Tonyrefail School, Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School & Pontypridd High School Year 2 - (The RCT Schools Netball Championship) - Treorchy Comprehensive School, Ferndale Community School, Porth County Community School, Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda, Tonypandy Community College, Tonyrefail School, Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School, Pontypridd High School, Hawthorn High School, Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari, Y Pant Comprehensive School, Aberdare Community School, St Johns Baptist Catholic School, Mountain Ash Comprehensive School &Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun. The surge in the popularity of netball since Rhondda Netball was established in 2016 hasn’t only affected the out-of-schools participation, because our in-schools umbrella competitions have been just as successful! The professional approach to schools netball has been appreciated by PE Departments across RCT and female staff are delighted that their girls now get to compete in an organised competitions structure on a regular basis. Our new “RCT Schools Netball Championship” now includes all 17 secondary schools within Rhondda Cynon Taff. It was a huge step of faith for us based on the fact 2016/17 catered for 8 RCT secondary schools, but the development means we’ll potentially see up to 1000 girls taking part in after school/in-school netball throughout our Local Authority. When our ground-breaking end-of-year tournament saw more than 260 netballers taking part at KS3 in one venue, on one day (See photo right and previous pages), we knew we had to take things to the next level in 2017/18. Ferndale Community School is just one of the schools involved and when I caught up with Head of PE, Alyson Evans she said, “Having taught Physical Education for the last 17 years, I’m delighted to see so many young girls having such a great opportunity to take part in structured sport on a regular basis, and all because of Rhondda Netball. We’re already looking forward to this year’s tournaments.” In 2016/17 only 2 schools came from outside Rhondda, Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive & Pontypridd High School. Sara Bell, a current Celtic Dragon & Welsh International just happens to be the super-charged, netball enthusiast PE teacher at Bryn Celynnog, and when I 40

RCT Schools Netball Championship! by Jody Barnes, Operations Manager, Rhondda Netball got some feedback from her she said, “It has been great taking part in the schools league. Our pupils thoroughly enjoy taking part and I’ve personally witnessed a huge improvement in their performance and general attitude towards sport. I’m so happy to see that Rhondda Netball is so keen to work with schools throughout RCT as well as Rhondda.” With so many schools involved, the RCT Schools Netball Championship sees Rhondda, Cynon and Taff competing in their region where the schools are battling it out to be crowned “Regional Champions”. The competition will see an increase in intensity as each “Regional Champion” competes in the semi-finals, along with the winner of a play-off between 2nd place Rhondda and 2nd place Taff. The semi-final winners will progress to the RCT Schools Championship Final. The final game will be played at an organised finals day where schools, parents and friends will all be invited. Our new competitions structure has completely transformed girls attitudes to taking part in sport/netball in school. Commitment levels are unprecedented; skills are improving, and no longer are we seeing training die out in the same way from a lack of fixtures. As it takes such a long time to change a culture, we’re still seeing a big gap between some schools which correlates to the longevity of the out-of-schools netball provision in the school communities. But we’re hoping over time RCT will become a real hotbed when it comes to produces top class young netballers. Some schools are completely new to having a netball structure in place so we’re eager to support female PE staff as they seek to establish a female sporting culture in their respective schools. If Wales wants to produce more top class netballers, it will need to increase the intensity of all its major netball leagues and competitions. Schools can be the bedrock of such a strategy. We were eager to bring greater female equality to schools sport in Rhondda & RCT. From a structural point of view we’ve achieved that for the most part. The job now is cultural, and if we can ensure sustainability with the established models then we have good reason to be excited about schools netball in Rhondda Cynon Taf! 41

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