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A lack of broadcasting is holding elite netball in the UK back

It was the Loughborough Lightning game against Saracens Mavericks that first caught my attention, swiftly followed by Dragons v Sirens and the Stars v Pulse games. Flicking through the channels, I searched for netball. Nothing. I was not only confused, but also displeased. Surely that was not the standards that the organisers of the NSL have set for the league in terms of progressing to professionalism. 

All of these matches had one thing in common- they could not be streamed online. The only way of following the game other than physically attending was via X, formerly Twitter. For the Loughborough game, there was no other netball on at the time, or even on the day, so is it simply that Sky does not place enough value in Britain’s elite netball league? Perhaps, as it wasn’t even available on YouTube. Having said that, I have not found the quality of the YouTube feeds to be particularly good so far. Even if there is more than one game on, why can’t every game be available to watch? Why are we limited? Why aren’t we moving forward?

Before the start of the season, the Netball Super League announced that it wanted to go professional, announcing a broadcast deal with Sky Sports and BBC Sport. It is pleasing to see that the BBC will show netball, making one game a week free for everyone to watch. However, it cannot be denied that the NSL is not making progress. Last season, there were at least three games each round that were on Sky. Now, it is one, along with a few on YouTube from time to time. This does not scream ‘professionalism’ to me. In fact, it indicates the opposite.

To become professional, the Netball Super League needs to step up and face the challenges. Look at the Suncorp Super League in Australia. We need to have regular posts with the scores, fixtures and signings in the transfer window on the NSL social media. We need to make sure that every game can be broadcast, or at the very least streamed. We need to push the league upwards, not let it fall back down. How is it that I can watch every netball game in New Zealand’s ANZ Premiership online for free, on the other side of the world, but not in my own country?

Both for upcoming talent in county and academy programmes, and for young girls who simply want to have fun whilst playing netball, it is vital that they see the highest quality our country has to offer in order to inspire them and provide role models. If you can’t see it, how on earth can you be it?

I urge both the Netball Super League and Sky Sports Netball to act on this and ensure that all matches are available to watch in some form for the remainder of this season and for the seasons after this, as they look to make our elite league professional in the UK.

If you liked this article and want to hear more, check out @tash_talker1 on Instagram! Additionally, visit the NSL website to discover more.

Looking to get into netball? Head to the England Netball website to find your nearest club.

By Natasha Callis

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