Netball club celebrates 60th anniversary

IPSWICH Ladies netball team will host a ball tonight to celebrate their 60th anniversary with over 100 past and present members and their families attending the Next Generation Gym.

IPSWICH Ladies netball team will host a ball tonight to celebrate their 60th anniversary with over 100 past and present members and their families attending the Next Generation Gym.

The team were formed in the summer of 1947 by Monica Watling and Margaret Garnham, among others.

Avril Gray, player and now vice-chairwoman for Ipswich Ladies, said: “Monica Watling recalls that the team was formed as netball was becoming more than just a school game, as many companies started to form teams to play against each other.

“At the time, they played matches wherever they could find a court and two posts, since there were not an abundance of netball facilities available.”

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Despite only having the one team at the time of their inception, the club now runs 11 squads, running from senior to under 14 levels.

Nowadays, the club is the most successful team in Suffolk, courting regular media attention and attracting the highest quality players from around the county. This in turn has recently gained them a sponsorship deal with container shipping giants Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

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The team celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1997 by winning the National Knock-out competition, thus gaining them a place in the England Netball National League.

This achievement won them the Ipswich Amateur Team of the Year award. They remained in the National League until 2006 when England Netball restructured the league system throughout the country.

This saw Ipswich placed in the East Region League, where they have competed well against strong opposition such as Wyven, Turnford and Watford Premier, with the season just past seeing them finish as runners-up.

The majority of other Ipswich Ladies' teams compete in the Ipswich League, although the Under-16 first team compete in a Suffolk County League.

In addition to team success, Ipswich Ladies Netball Club have also had several members honoured at national level throughout their history, with a further 50 members having played for Suffolk and another 10 have represented the East of England team.

The club has gained a reputation for the training and development of youngsters, forming a partnership with Copleston School where Ipswich Ladies play their local league games and hold training.

Copleston has proved ideal for the club, with fantastic facilities provided, including a floodlit netball court (a big change from how the club began), with regional league matches for the senior team being held at Kesgrave Community Centre.

Ipswich Ladies have also been granted the gold Club Action Planning Scheme (CAPS) Award, showing that the club has the appropriate structure for the promotion of netball at all levels and the development of skills, particularly at youth level.

The team has earned a reputation for its role in the development of youngsters, with after-school sessions being held at Copleston School involving primary schools within the area. Many of the youngsters involved in these programmes go on to join the club and generally progress into promising players.

The club has many experienced and qualified coaches within its membership, vital to the improvement of young players, through training programmes and just simple advice.

They also encourage youngsters within the club to go towards Satellite and County Academies, as they look to the future for further success.

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