Walking netball - the new kid on the block thanks to Falkirk Community Trust

Maggie Parker (66) from Grangemouth and Moira Dunn (65) from Airth, former teacher at Falkirk High School.
Maggie Parker (66) from Grangemouth and Moira Dunn (65) from Airth, former teacher at Falkirk High School.

Walking football? It’s sooo last year! The new game in town is walking netball.

And those who have already signed up for Falkirk Community Trust’s ten week trial, overseen by Netball Scotland, are loving it!

In fact, the competitors are enjoying it so much they’re hoping the trial will be extended so that more people can join in the fun.

The Trust decided to trial the sport afer enjoying a visit to an Active Stirling walking netball session.

Scott Burton, physical activity co-ordinator, explained: “It was brilliant – so inclusive and great fun with a lot of people going along. So we decided to give it a try here in Falkirk.”

Sessions started on Wednesday, May 16, at Grangemouth Sports Complex – with the first three free of charge.

And word quickly spread so by the second week, the teams had doubled!

That’s no surprise to Kate Thomson, Netball Scotland’s community impact officer.

For there are now around 20 sessions being held across Scotland weekly.

She said: “The first group met up in Aberdeen in January 2017 and it has really taken off since then.

“We’re getting more and more enquiries every week from people who want to set up sessions in their area.

“I go along for three weeks to advise the organisers and then leave it in the capable hands of a local coach.

“In Falkirk, for example, Suzanne Adamson, Active Forth co-ordinator, will be taking over next week.

“It’s popular because it’s so inclusive – it’s open to all abilities, genders and ages.

“We now have around 350 people enrolled across Scotland.

“Because it’s a low impact sport, it tends to pick up people who are over 50. Our average age is 60, with the majority being ladies – but we do have three men playing now too!

“It attracts a mixture of people – from those who have never played before to those who used to play at school.

“Thanks to it being low intensity, we have players who suffer from COPD, lung disorders or who have had knee and hip replacements.

“They can do as much or as little as they want – there’s no pressure so they can sit out a game if they need to.

“Even though we don’t keep scores, it can get a wee bit competitive but it’s all good, clean fun.

“Our players have a laugh so it gives people a chance to socialise while they exercise!

“I think that’s why it has really started to take off.”

We’re not sure if Kate told the Grangemouth seven-a-sides that no-one was keeping score – competition was fierce at the session we attended last week!

But by the end, they were all good friends again.

Among their number was 66-year-old Maggie Parker from Grangemouth.

The former secretary, musician and pub landlady was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis a year ago.

So she already attends the gym, aqua fit and Active Forth classes at the sports complex to keep fit.

Having played netball as a pupil at Stirling High School more than 50 years ago, she decided to give walking netball a try.

Maggie said: “I usually walk with a stick so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it.

“The coaches told me to give it a try without my walking stick and I loved it.

“I was really surprised I was able to do it – if I can do it, anyone can!

“I’m a pretty determined person so the games can be quite competitive but no-one is keeping scores.

“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people.

“I’d encourage everyone to give it a go.

“I just hope the sessions continue because I’d like to keep going – it’s great fun.”

Former Falkirk High School business and behavioural support teacher Moira Dunn has also been enjoying the sesssions.

The 65-year-old from Airth, who retired in 2015 after 26 years at the school, is also hoping the sessions continue.

She said: “I played netball at school and up until my 30s.

“At that time, I was living in Cumbernauld and I played with the Abronhill team for a couple of years in the Glasgow league.

“So when I saw walking netball advertised, I decided to give it a go. I love it – it’s great fun and even though it can get quite competitive and you want to win, I’ve no idea what the scores have been.

“It’s not about who scores the goals. It’s about having fun, keeping active and meeting people from all over the Falkirk area.

“There’s a social aspect to it as well as keeping fit.”

Walking Netball will run at the sports complex every Wednesday until July 18 from 11.30am to 12.30pm.

For more details call Scott Burton on 01506 778507 or email activeforth@falkirkcommunitytrust.org.