In a Queensland first, more than 500 older athletes will attend the inaugural BallyCara Walking Netball Carnival, this weekend, Sunday, 8 September, at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
Walking Netball Program Manager Rhonda Newton said the carnival tapped into a growing demand.
“We know that older Queenslanders want to stay fit and continue to play team sports in a social context, but until now there has been little to answer that need. They need a sport that caters to older joints and those with potential balance issues or slowing reflexes along with all the other niggles that we all face as we get older!
“Walking netball is the answer. It’s slower, there’s no running or jumping and the rules are modified to reflect ability.
“Queensland’s first BallyCara Walking Netball Carnival has been inundated with support as new and experienced walking netballers get involved,” she said.
Launched just 12 months ago in Queensland, walking netball has grown quickly to be played in 25 centres throughout Queensland, as far north as Townsville and down to the NSW border.
“It’s a rapidly growing sport. People come together to play and then they socialise afterwards over a coffee or a cold drink, creating valuable social connections and giving emotional support to those who are looking to build their networks,” Newton said.
The BallyCara Walking Netball Carnival will also include walking football and pickleball.
“This will become a real celebration of sport for older athletes,” Newton said. “There’s more on offer for older people who want to stay fit than water aerobics and golf.”
The Thomas family have been playing for about a year, with three generations now involved in the sport regularly and are all looking forward to the BallyCara Walking Netball Carnival on September 8.
Kevin (61) and Linda (60) Thomas began playing a year ago. Linda got involved following knee replacement surgery and wanted to return to physical exercise. So she brought along husband, Kevin.
About six months ago their son Ian, 28, and his sister Melissa Berardo, 46, also caught the bug and joined their walking netball team, followed closely by Lachlan Berardo, 20, son of Melissa and grandson to Kevin and Linda.
“We have really enjoyed getting back into regular exercise,” Linda Thomas said. “I’ve met new friends through walking netball and it’s a really enjoyable part of my week,” she said.
Daughter Melissa wanted to maintain fitness while looking after a back issue.
“With walking netball I’m still involved in regular exercise and it doesn’t aggravate my back problems,” she said.