This is an exciting time for sport, for women’s sport and netball. The first season of the new look Vitality Netball Superleague has just concluded demonstrating a competitive league, with more televised matches and bigger crowds than ever. The nature of the franchises is changing, the performance pathways are also changing – from geographically based, centrally controlled structures to those based around Superleague franchises. As you will no doubt be aware, Yorkshire Jets did not win a franchise a year ago leaving Yorkshire without a squad in the highest domestic league in the country, and with the formal pathway being run by Yorkshire Netball.
At Leeds Rhinos we recognise the values of netball – there are synergies – the family friendly approach, the competitive sport played in good spirit, the commitment from athletes to be the best they can. That is why we are getting involved, stepping up our interest and promoting Headingley and Leeds as being a centre of excellence which we hope will support to the sport’s highest competition return to this great county.
At Leeds Rhinos Foundation, we have a simple vision ‘changing lives through sport’, and an incredible track record in sports development, performance and engagement with communities and schools. It is an outstanding model that develops rugby league, we will now be extending that approach into netball, offering opportunities in the most popular female sport this country has to girls in Leeds, Yorkshire and beyond.
In addition, we are exploring links with Leeds Beckett University to support Leeds Rhinos Netball. Leeds Beckett is a prolific university in the sports market, with significant success in BUCS and ambitious partnerships across a range of sports – we hope to establish a partnership with them at Rhinos Netball and Headingley which would complement their current relationships with Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie. Leeds Beckett has the indoor facilities to offer as a training centre, students who can be engaged for personal development and the University sees the opportunity of increased profile through the exciting partnership of Leeds Rhinos Netball.
Former Yorkshire Jets personnel will be involved in our new venture, bringing with them the elite performance coaching expertise, commercial acumen and customer service experience which will complement the partnership expertise of Leeds Rhinos – we will truly be bringing together some of the best netball and sporting talent in the region to develop the sport across Yorkshire.
Leeds Rhinos Netball will have two linked but independent aims – firstly, to run the best possible performance development opportunities to improve netball skills, expertise and passion and, secondly, to build towards becoming a Superleague franchise bringing the top level competition to the region that netballers in Yorkshire desire and deserve.