We’re delighted to share that today marked the start of a brand new adventure with the Metropolitan Police, the launch of our year-long engagement initiative ‘Beyond The Court’.
Taking place throughout 2022, Beyond The Court will use netball as a vehicle for positive change, promoting greater social cohesion between young people and the police and demonstarting the power of sport to change lives. Beyond The Court is aimed at strengthening relationships between young women and the police in South London and using the power of netball as a vehicle for positive change.
At the heart of Beyond The Court is the belief that sport, and netball in particular, has the ability to change lives. Whether that’s as a fan, a coach, an official, a player or a volunteer, netball has shaped, and continues to shape, the lives of so many and in a number of different ways. This is the catalyst for Beyond The Court.
Beyond The Court was designed to combat the lack of sports engagement initiatives for young women and is a crucial programme looking to become an integral part of the Met’s fight against violent crime in the capital. Through this initiative, the Met will be able to grow the conversations around youth violence in South London with the people most affected, build closer relationships with young women in the capital, and give the police a greater understanding of what they can be doing to support young Londoners. It is hoped that it will be the first of many initiatives bidding to help young women all over the city and beyond, and if the successes of the launch are any indication, the future looks bright for the programme!
Following a hugely successful pilot in June 2021 – which was a finalist for a London Sport Award – the project has now been expanded into a powerful longer term programme promoting the fundamental values of netball both on and beyond the court – empowering participants to engage in a positive outlet, enhancing their physical and mental wellbeing, and breaking down barriers between young women and the police.
A first-of-its-kind initiative, Beyond The Court will consist of four netball and three police activity days that will use netball as a vehicle for positive social change, as well as providing regular fun and enjoyable ‘turn-up-and-play’ sessions and other supplementary activity throughout 2022. In line with their belief in the power of sport, England Netball partner Nike is also wholeheartedly supporting the initiative. Day one of the programme saw 35 girls aged between 12 and 18 from across Croydon, Bromley and Sutton come together for a two-hour coaching session with England Netball coaches, followed by a Q&A session with Funmi Fadoju, Halimat Adio and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Grey. They then took part in 60 minutes of competitive and hugely enjoyable matchplay to put into practice the learnings of the day. On seeing the programme come to fruition, Lucy Goodman, Regional Coordinator for London & South East, said “This programme encapsulates the transformative power of sport and it is a privilege to be able to share our love and belief in netball as a force for good with the capital’s young women. Netball truly is more than just a sport, and we can’t wait to see where Beyond The Court goes in the coming months and years.”
Throughout 2022, participants will engage in a variety of activities, including visits to elite netball matches and the National Air Service Police centre. There will also be the chance to take part in workshops on some of netball’s core values, and receive talks from prominent figures within the Met. PC Emma Simms from the Met’s Youth Engagement Team explains: “We set up this project as we saw that young women in South London needed access to a positive outlet and netball is a perfect fit. Sport is a key factor within the Met’s broader youth engagement work – our youth engagement team also organises and gets involved with football, rugby and cricket initiatives. Playing sport opens up a point of conversation and creates a shared experience between young people and the police. “Last year saw the highest number of teen homicides since 2008, and that was heart-breaking for my team because we work with the people most
affected by those murders every day. The purpose of all our youth engagement work is to stop people becoming involved in violent crime. We want everyone to know that humanity always comes before the badge. We are incredibly grateful to the team at England Netball for sharing our belief in the potential
of the capital’s young women, and for helping us to provide the series of upcoming events. Together, we’ve helped to give these young women some incredible things to look forward to.”
Fran Connolly, CEO England Netball, adds: “We are delighted to see Beyond The Court launch in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and I have no doubt that this important initiative will bring about positive social change. Netball has the power to unite and inspire communities whilst helping to transform the lives of young women and girls and we are thrilled to see this project take to court.” Sam Bird, CEO London Pulse, concludes: “London Pulse is delighted to be contributing to this programme by providing elite athletes from our Vitality Netball Superleague squad to meet the girls and coach them. They are giving up their free time to contribute to making a positive change in London as both Funmi and Halimat are Londoners themselves. This is an example of the London Pulse ideology in action”