Growing the Game for All


With a focus on inclusivity for all, Charleston Netball Club in the Adelaide Hills really pulls together to ensure players of all abilities are supported to perform at their best while having lots of fun.

Charleston Netball Club is a small club that was first established in 1935. In its 84-year club history, it has won 27 premierships, including an A grade premiership in 1996.

The club’s committee prides itself on the growth it has experienced in recent times; from only having enough players to fill one senior team in 2016, to now having two senior teams and three junior teams.

Charleston Netball Club President, Amy Lee, says the club is proud of its welcoming inclusive philosophy.

“Our club’s approach of being a family friendly and inclusive club, where everyone is welcome regardless of talent or age, has certainly seen us grow and attract a wonderful bunch of players of both genders,” said Amy.

Siblings, Jess and Josh have both benefited from the club’s focus on making netball fun for all.

Jess has been playing at the club for three seasons now, first joining as a shy under 9 knowing nothing about netball but very keen to learn. Jess has a conductive hearing loss, which means she has fluctuating hearing and struggles particularly with lots of background noise.

The condition makes it difficult for Jess to hear in group situations, therefore, social settings such as learning a team sport can be challenging.

Working with Jess’s mum, Belinda, Amy says the club has found that using a Roger touchscreen mike works well.

“It allows Jess to hear instructions and coaching tips directly without the interference of background noise. Our coaches use this both at training and on game day, and it helps Jess to understand where she needs to be and what is being asked of her.”

“This really has meant only a small adjustment to our coaching methods; we must always be mindful that when we speak to Jess, we are speaking directly to her, and ensure the microphone is on. We also make sure that the umpires for the game are aware of this too in case Jess becomes confused about a call. Jess has blossomed into a great little player who is always ready to do her best.”

Jess’ brother Josh has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and after seeing how much his sister enjoyed netball, the club approached Belinda and suggested that Josh might like to play in a new U11 team that was being established. Josh plays with another boy in the team, enjoying the great social experience.

Amy says the club looks at simple strategies to help Josh feel comfortable and confident when playing the game he loves.

“Josh can sometimes get quite overwhelmed so simple strategies the club has used to empower him have been to find positions on the court that he feels comfortable and confident in and provides him the opportunity to self-regulate. For example, if he needs time off the court, we are accommodating regardless of whether we have an extra player or not. Josh seems to love netball and finds it a good way to channel his energy and push himself socially in a safe environment.”

The social benefits of being part of the netball community has been a great benefit for the entire family.

“Being part of the netball community has had huge advantages for Jess and Josh’s social interactions. Both Jess and Josh have gained confidence in social settings and are growing their friendship groups. They both look forward to their weekly games and find it a great source of exercise and fun.”

“The family has had similar benefits. Belinda also plays in our senior team. Netball for them has enabled them to connect with the community, meet new friends and provide opportunity to participate in social events. Belinda also gives back her time to the club being a valued member of the committee.”

The club’s focus on inclusivity extends beyond Jess and Josh’s family, with several opportunities to build on this value being adopted by the club.

“We try to be accommodating of everyone’s individual needs and look at different ways about how to get people involved. To grow our club in recent years we have really focused on trying to attract boys to play junior netball.”

“We are mindful that every person, no matter the status and/or ability, might have deep diverse needs that might not be about netball, but netball can certainly be an avenue for helping them reach their full potential. We are respectful of the differences of all players and make sure everyone has the time and space to develop as they need.”

Amy says being inclusive gives all members opportunities to learn to be accepting.

“Part of netball is about learning and trusting your teammates and learning to accept others as they are is an excellent quality in a netballer.”