The Henley Sharks Football and Netball Clubs have provided more opportunities for South Australians to get active through the sharing of resources, services and facilities.

Club President Rod Hill and Netball Director Kate Williams spoke about how the collaboration has produced several benefits for everyone involved.

What is the strategy?

  • Shared resources and facilities between Henley High, Henley Sharks Netball and the men’s and women’s football teams.
  • Promoting and developing junior footballers with a positive team attitude.
  • Growth of women’s football.

How did this idea come about?

2017 saw the first female football teams join the club with netball introduced the following year. Over the past five years, women’s football has significantly grown and some of the parents brought up the idea of having female teams introduced to the club which would increase participation in the club and for the sport.

The idea to bring netball to the Henley Sharks came from a group of dedicated women who identified an issue with the current structure servicing netball needs in the western suburbs of Adelaide. These women were previously affiliated with another netball club that had a waitlist to play which brought up the question: Why should we wait to play community netball?

The two sporting codes partnered together to promote the participation in sport and bringing in that sense of community spirit and culture. The club wanted to have a country sporting hub feel as the sports were all in the one space, making it easier for families with children in different sports.

Who championed this change?

Multiple people were involved with each member providing support to each other to achieve these goals. This included parents, committee members, as well a local MP who used to play for Henley Sharks and still supports the club.

What challenges or issues is it designed to address?

The idea to bring netball to the Henley Sharks is that kids should be able to participate freely and not have to be on a waitlist to play community sport. The club aims to provide opportunities for everyone to get involved in the sport they love while creating a great culture in the community. It helps families with children in different sports to be all in the one space.

Like netball, the fast-growing sport of women’s football meant that many females would need a club to play for.

What has been the reaction (from club members and broader)?

The club and the community have been very supportive and backed the idea of bringing netball to the Henley Sharks as they felt it was important to have the community sports hub. Having the clubs in the same location made it easier for everyone. The President at the time was very welcoming and was the liaison between the two sports. Without the support from the community, it wouldn’t have had the capacity to get these ideas up and running.

Not only are football and netball sharing the facilities; Henley High also offers their grounds to help the club with training grounds for junior football and game days with netball.

Any advice for other clubs seeking to implement this?

The best advice is to build a relationship with people in the community. Club culture goes a lot deeper than leadership - it stems from officials and parents as well. A great club culture will bring people together. People need to steer away from the individual needs and start focusing on the wellbeing for the club. You must have people who will drive the ownership and be able to back the ideas up on and off the field. You need to have people who will heavily invest in the idea which Henley Sharks had with having this vision to increase participation by adding women’s football teams and netball.

Is there a next step/are you looking to grow this further?

Currently, netball play their games at Henley High so the next step is to build netball courts at the club which will further add to that sporting hub model look and feel. By having the courts at the same facility, the club is aiming to have everything in the one spot in terms of revenue (BBQs etc). Of course, this won’t happen overnight, so the club has aimed to achieve this within the next few years.

The football team is also looking at bringing in an electronic scoreboard which will make it easier to keep score in games, as well create another way of advertising sponsors and giving them exposure.

Has this supported an increase in members/volunteers/revenue?

The club has seen an increase in its members on both the netball and football sides as many families want to be all in the same place (which saves driving around for different sports).

When netball first started, the plan was to field eight teams, but an overwhelming interest saw 18 teams formed in 2018 and this jumped to 26 teams competing in their second year - a significant increase of members to the club.

The women’s football first started with junior football in 2017 with 80 girls joining, to now having more ages groups and introducing an A-grade women’s team in 2020. The club has worked hard to introduce the younger age groups and it has been an increase with age groups normally having one or two teams to now having three or four. This is driven by the opportunity to play.

The significant increase in members across both sporting codes has been attributed to the quality programs the club offers. With the club increasing its members, more revenue has been brought in as everyone uses the same clubrooms (especially on training nights).