If you want your children to be well-rounded, sign them up for netball. This has certainly been the philosophy that many parents in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon subscribe to. Netball is a great game for keeping kids physically active, mentally sharp, and socially engaged. More often than not, the love of the game is so deeply ingrained that young players become lifelong enthusiasts. This has certainly been the case for the players of the Essendon Netball Club (ENC).

Formed in 1995, ENC was previously called Windy Hill Netball and it started out with two teams of under 11s and under 13s. Through the years, the club has grown to 16 teams, including senior ones, and can now participate in competitions for over 18 years of age, such as those held by Melbourne Social Netball.

ENC’s original purpose was to provide an enthusiastic environment for children to develop their netball-playing skills through the provision of excellent coaching, ongoing coach education, and a well-organised, unified committee. Having expanded to accommodate senior players, including three from the founding teams, the club’s raison d’être has undergone a shift, but it remains a breeding ground for netball legends and a supportive family for lifelong aficionados.

ENC teams have regular training on weekends and during the week after school or work. Games are often scheduled in the evening during the week and on Saturday mornings. They have very specific rules for attending training and participating in games, as well as strict reminders for overzealous parents who may try to usurp the role of the coach.

Playing for ENC holds privileges and members are expected to uphold their commitment to the club. Players are selected based on their netball skills and overall physical fitness, their attendance and cooperation during the previous season’s training, their game attendance and participation in pre-match warm-ups and drills, etc.

Being part of a netball club is definitely an enriching experience, the benefits of which extend to many other aspects of life outside of sports. It certainly also provides an advantage to those seeking to play in a varsity capacity or even those who wish to pursue a career in professional netball.

Those with less lofty aims still have access to a wealth of benefits. Club players can expect to stay in tiptop shape through all the regular drills and games. They develop a strategic mindset as well as learn to adhere to the discipline and the code of conduct of an athlete. Best of all, they gain a sense of belonging. A club offers a community of kindred netball-loving souls; members can expect to be surrounded by friends and mentors as well as plenty of support and inspiration.

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