'Fast-paced and physical' - Norfolk's first men's netball team starts

Players scrambling for the ball by a net.

Netball is much more physical than many people realise. - Credit: Jon Webb

Norfolk's first men's netball group has opened in Norwich and they are looking for people to get physical.

Norfolk United Netball Club (NUNC) are operating a six-week programme in men's netball at the UEA's Sportspark on Thursdays from 7:30pm.

Karen Webb, head coach of NUNC, has set up the programme to encourage more men to join the often misconceived sport.

"There is still a bit of a stigma about netball being a girl's sport, but that's really not the case any more," Mrs Webb, 46, said.

"Men's netball is already quite big in Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries.

A player doing an overhead pass.

The group have had two sessions from a six-week programme. - Credit: Jon Webb

"Our new members are finding out how fast-paced it is, how physical it is, and more people want to give it a go."

England Men's and Mixed Netball Association (EMMNA) are trying to raise the profile of the sport for mixed, men's and boys youth teams.

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The association will be hosting the inaugural national men's and mixed netball tournament on August 7 and 8, putting together the nation's best netball teams.

Mrs Webb is hopeful to get the Norwich team represented at the event.

"I was shocked on week one," Mrs Webb continued. "The level was pretty good.

"We have a great group of people. Everyone who comes clearly wants to be there and they want to learn.

Karen Webb standing on a court.

Karen Webb coaching the men's netball group. - Credit: Jon Webb

"They're taking stuff on board and we're moving quite quickly."

So far, the club has run two sessions out of a six-week programme.

"We wanted to get people along, not getting too bogged down into training, playing the sport and having fun."

The club is looking for more people to join the remaining four sessions, with more sessions to follow.

Currently, boys and men aged 16 plus are welcome to join, but Norfolk United Netball Club have aspirations of starting youth teams to bring the sport to a wider group.

"It's a great time to grow the sport of netball. We're trying to grow our game and making it accessible to all."

For more information on the sessions, please visit the Norfolk United Netball Club's website.

James Weeds' verdict

As soon as I arrived, Jon Webb (vice-chair of NUNC)  threw me a ball and I was throwing the ball towards the net.

The session began with some warm ups. I was breathing hard, but I was part of a team and we were all feeling it together.

After hops, skips, sprints and squats, it was time to practice some passes.

All limbered up and prepared, it was time to play.

James Weeds throwing a ball badly.

The atmosphere was so positive, it had this reporter wide-eyed. - Credit: Jon Webb

Being 6ft 5in, it was a no-brainer I was put in goal.

All the players were supportive and friendly. When I felt a little unsure, the team were so open and welcoming, they often gave me tips and advice on what I can do to improve during the next play.

I felt a part of something and I had a purpose as a goal keeper.

When the game ended, there were some claps as people puffed from rosy cheeks.

I enjoyed it.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I signed up.