Since its inception in 2019, the England Men’s & Mixed Netball Association (EMMNA) has always been ambitious and has already made a significant difference to the landscape of netball across the country. There are currently 26 established clubs offering men's and mixed netball in England, with nearly 20,000 men playing fortnightly and many boys playing netball regularly at primary school. This is all despite the challenges of a global pandemic that saw the playing of sport at a grassroots level restricted.
Fresh off the back of holding the first National training camp in Loughborough at the weekend, their next venture is to launch a series of summer fixtures catering for men’s and mixed teams in the lead up to their national tournament later in the year. The fixtures are due to take place from May to July and further details can be seen below:
Saturday 14th May in Manchester, hosted by Manchester Spartans NC
Saturday 28th May Knights Netball v Northern Titans VNSL curtain raiser @ Copper Box London 🎫 https://m.ticketline.co.uk/order/tickets/13360263/london-pulse-v-leeds-rhinos-copper-box-arena-2022-
Sunday 29th May in Norwich, hosted by Norfolk United NC
Saturday 11th June in Aldershot, hosted by the British Army
Saturday 11th June in Suffolk, hosted by Suffolk Rockets NC
Saturday 11th June in Birmingham, hosted by Aldridge Wolfpack Mixed NC
Saturday 18th June in Chester, hosted by West Cheshire Men’s & Mixed NC
Sunday 19th June in London, venue TBC
Saturday 25th June in Hull, hosted by the East Yorkshire Vikings NC
Saturday 2nd July in Aldershot, hosted by the British Army
Sunday 10th July in London, hosted by London Giants NC
Each venue will host multiple sides, each playing numerous matches per date.
Men playing netball is nothing new, with Australia and New Zealand leading the way since the 1980’s, but the formation of a designated governing body in England, combined with partnering with England Netball in December 2021, has seen the number of men’s teams increasing nationwide and necessitated the need for their own pathway and a specific domestic competition structure.
England Netball are responsible for the female arm of the sport and the ‘Vitality Roses’ are the current Commonwealth Games Gold Medalists, beating the hosts Australia by the narrowest of margins in the Final back in 2018. This success led to a surge in popularity with many people returning to the sport they last played at school. It is expected that there will be a similar spike in interest at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this Summer, and the powers that be at EMMNA are keen to ensure that there are opportunities for everyone who wishes to try their hand at the sport.
Jen Walsh, Director of Development at EMMNA, commented, ‘We’re receiving expressions of interest daily from men and boys who want to find out where their nearest club is and how they can get involved. The organisation is made up of volunteers but we are all so passionate and know how welcoming the netball community is and that people will be hooked as soon as they give it a go. Considering how far we’ve come in such a short space of time, we strongly believe that the sky's the limit and the possibilities are endless. It’s hoped that this will expand netball’s reach, bringing it to a new audience and supporting World Netball’s intent to explore inclusion in the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, with their vision outlined in their recent Strategic Plan to ensure netball is a sport that is open to all.’
The inaugural National Men’s & Mixed Netball Tournament last August saw eight men’s teams from seven clubs and six mixed teams from four clubs battle it out to be crowned National Champions. This year’s event is due to take place over the bank holiday weekend in August at Loughborough University and is set to be even bigger and better!
For more information, please visit www.englandmmna.com