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Back to Netball Festival success as Southampton celebrates 400th participant this year

The award-winning Back to Netball programme celebrated its 400th participant in Southampton recently with a special festival held at Solent University.

6 teams, all formed from Back to Netball sessions or recreational netball groups in the local area, took part, with two teams from the recent Chamberlayne Leisure Centre sessions competing for the very first time.

It was the most exciting finish to a festival out of the 5 held this year, with Gems Diamonds taking the winners medals from Southampton University-based Monte on goal difference. T Birds, from Chamberlayne Leisure Centre came third, Ravens White from Eastleigh took 4th spot, 5th were Fishnets from Whitchurch Back to Netball and 6th were Goal Aloud.

Netball Development Community Coach Debbie Laycock, who organised the festival said: 'It was a great way to celebrate our recent National Lottery Best Sports Programme Award, as well as our 400th participant since Back to Netball came to Southampton in March. We had around 50 ladies enjoy the festival, many who haven't played competitively for a number of years. It's great to be able to give the opportunity to Back to Netball participants to play matches against similar opposition in a fun and friendly environment. The most important thing of course is all the participants had fun.'

She added: 'A lot of volunteers helped to make the festival a success and special thanks need to go to all the umpires involved, team organisers and our hosts Solent University. We also made £50 for the Children-in-Need appeal so special thanks to everyone who contributed.'

The popular Back to Netball sessions and festivals has paved a way for Southampton Netball Association to form a new division specifically for Back to Netball teams. The division started at the beginning of November, with seven teams currently taking part at the Outdoor Sports Centre on a Monday evening. It is hoped more teams will enter in the spring league, more information can be found at www.southamptonnetball.co.uk.

For more information about Back to Netball sessions in the Southampton area, including new sessions starting in the New Year, please contact Debbie Laycock on 07854 090473 or email debbie.laycock@englandnetball.co.uk

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