With the Netball European Championships having recently occurred, it seems this period may signal the most poignant opportunity to debate whether the event may have extended the reach of the sport. Whilst football is the most viewed, and therefore popular, sport in the world, its demographic may often be men, and whilst it does seem to be making advances in their quest to provide equal opportunities, it seems netball may be the most viable opportunity for female athletes. With 156,000 women already playing the sport each week, the foundations may already be laid for future successes, and therefore the value of international championships seems to be clear; in providing a viable, and accessible, career path for athletes at grass roots level, it may lead to them continuing their involvement in the sport.
As the championship united five nations, including the four consisting the British isles, it may be a tournament which bypasses geographical boundaries in the common quest for sporting glory, and with a key factor in the success of any sport potentially its ability to attain competitors from across the globe, the championships may play a key role in elevating its credentials. This may also be the main reason as to why the event holds such precedence in the calendar, as whilst there seems to be a multitude of other tournaments, the European Championships seem to provide players from different countries and of varying abilities to ply their trade at the highest level, solely serving to enhance their careers and provide them with an influx of opportunities.
England concluded the tournament the victors, and in doing so they may have perhaps showcased the reasoning as to why, at world number three, they possessed the highest ranking at the tournament. Whilst this may naturally highlight the capabilities of these players, and further showcase their ability to adapt in order to succeed versus a smorgasbord of opposition, it may more importantly further reiterate the status of the tournament, as the side seemed to prioritise playing at their peak capabilities in order to ensure they attained the trophy. Yet, with their rivals all seemingly producing intriguing encounters with the champions, most notably in the final fixture, where Wales recorded fifty points, it may also prove the strength in depth the sport possesses, providing an insight into the competitiveness of future tournaments.
There seems to be multiple schemes running throughout Britain to entice the public to become involved in the sport, and, as aforementioned, these tournaments may therefore be important in motivating younger athletes to strive for a career in the game. Social media may also play a part in this, as with other sports prioritised by broadcasters, it seems the internet may be the most achievable route to attain a wide breadth of support, and with these schemes already holding a high status due to their organisers, including one run by the BBC, the pathway into these tournaments may be widely available. With England having also previously achieved at superior levels in previous years across various sports, an English victory in netball may also be important in restoring motivation for both the fans and players, and as such these schemes may ultimately be impactful on a broader spectrum.
With the Commonwealth Games forthcoming, this tournament may have a significant effect on both the outcomes and successes of these contests; whilst the teams may be able to successfully utilise their experiences in Cardiff to advance their quest for the trophy, it may more poignantly lead to increased recognition for the sport with the Commonwealth Games amongst the most viewed sporting events in the world. Yet, whilst this competition may naturally claim the focus, and may have been a contributor in the high standards achieved at the European Championships, as players aimed to earn a position in the squad, the recent tournament’s importance may be clear, as with a website dedicated to the event, coupled with its accessibility for fans, influencers across the sport may be aiming to ensure it advances from its status as a hobby to providing fully-fledged career opportunities.
How may this championship attain increased levels of exposure for the sport?