Dunholme resident, Eloise set up a mum’s social netball group for Dunholme and Welton following the Covid pandemic. The group has since blossomed into an all age, all gender, all ability group. As the community group expanded so did the number of teams and there are now 3 teams from Dunholme/Welton playing in the Market Rasen Social netball league. Players in the community group age range from 55 down to 7, encouraging activity for all ages. Eloise was awarded the Active Community Award at the Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Awards 2022 for her fantastic work.

“I was looking after my father-in-law who had Dementia and also caring for my son who has Autism with Sensory Processing Disorder and Global Development Delay during the COVID-19 Lockdown. I realised how isolating it can feel caring completely for others but not getting a lot of reward for my own physical and emotional needs. It was difficult to get out and justify time for myself. Gyms were shut or would only allow a few people in at a time to book.

I used to Chair the PTA 6 years ago when my daughter went to primary school and also did a lot of volunteering when needed in our village. I thought to myself that one of my strengths had always been bringing people together. I thought about something I enjoyed. Then I listened to people complaining about feeling alone and not getting enough exercise.

I read a post about sport and realised it is an activity that brings people together. I was thinking about sport and the only sport I enjoyed at school was Netball – I loved being part of a team. I decided to reach out to all the mums I ever met, and I told them to bring their children along as I realised because of COVID-19 not many would have childcare.

And so it began! 30 mums showed up at the first get together, we decided on a local league and the more competitive mums formed the first team, it got so big we split it into two teams. Then as more ladies joined I set up a 3rd team. Currently we have a 4th team of mixed ages – I arrange friendly matches for them to play.

My main reason for choosing Netball is I played it at school, and I was familiar with all the rules.

My daughter attempted to be in the Netball team at school but she played better when she was in a more relaxed environment having fun with it. It motivates me to see my daughter taking part and also knowing we can still take part and have fun no matter what our age is. People have to enjoy what they are doing to stay interested and fit, abilities vary but that is the important lesson of teamwork.

I also offer a chance to meet people in our Community and amongst us we arrange plenty of social outings, which people can involve themselves in or not. It is very hard to stay active, but I motivate myself weekly to show up and offer a safe space for people to be active in.

Apart from the netball, what I enjoy most is meeting people and introducing then to each other and so many ladies have expressed their gratitude, so many children’s confidence has grown within themselves and they gain a sense of belonging.

There is so much joy in life watching growth and development and achieving goals in an unconventional way. Some ladies and children have never tried Netball but because we are a relaxed group, they feel at ease to take part and expand the community

My advice to anyone who’d like to to start their own social group for netball or any other sport is to begin in your immediate community and reach out to everyone and anyone. Try to start simple, the more rules you impose, the more challenging and limited it looks for people and you might not reach your attendance numbers. Make it affordable and fun. Stay consistent and make sure you stay connected to your group by showing up weekly.

Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards 2023

Do you know somebody in Lincolnshire who has inspired others to move more? Why not celebrate their work, by nominating them for the 2023 Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards. Nominations are open until 31 July.

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