Presented by Dr Samantha-Jayne Oldfield, Manchester Metropolitan University at @SpLeisH Colloquium 2017

Netball is arguably one of England’s most successful female team sports, being a core component of the National Curriculum, one of the largest participation sports according to the Active People’s Survey, and recognised on the international stage through the Commonwealth Games and World Cup competitions, with the England national team currently ranked third in the world standings. In 2016, the highly successful Vitality Netball Super League renewed its broadcasting relationship with Sky Sports, becoming a showpiece for the newly formed Sky Sport Mix channel, and Loughborough Lightning provided the first opportunities for women to compete as full-time professionals in Britain. However, despite these developments, and the integration of the sport within British society, netball has had limited recognition in both the public and academic sphere, significantly, within the sport history discipline. Histories of netball have been conducted on the leading nations, including Australia and New Zealand where netball is celebrated and recognised as a principle national sport. However, even as one of the first established netballing nations and integral to the sport’s foundations, England still lacks recognition. Founded in 1926, the All England Net Ball Association (AENA) provided governance for the sport, which was popularised in the physical education colleges of England and America. This paper aims to detail the early history of netball through examination of its National Governing Body (NGB), considering the individuals involved and their impact on the development of the sport’s national and international profile throughout the twentieth century.

Article © Samantha-Jayne Oldfield