International Women’s Day 2024: Spotlight on Carol Harvey

Sophie Innes

Sophie Innes

Marketing Assistant

08 March 2024

To mark International Women’s Day 2024, we sat down with Carol Harvey, Director of Development at Netball Scotland, to find out more about her involvement with the sport, the impact that playing netball can have on women and girls, and the partnership between Johnson Carmichael and Netball Scotland.

Tell us a bit about you, how did you get involved with Netball Scotland?

My career so far has been quite varied, working in different roles. I have been in my current role as Director of Development for a little over a year and a half now, however I did previously work for Netball Scotland for four years, as Regional Development Manager after the Commonwealth Games up until 2018. I left to pursue other avenues, however when the Director of Development role was created, I leapt at the chance, and I am delighted to be back.

I adore netball, that’s why I’m here. I have played the sport all throughout my life. I started in school and joined a team, and then moved into coaching once I left. We lived quite rurally, so I was a coach for the local primary school, and then the secondary school. I also often played recreational netball as an adult, however haven’t had the chance to play as much recently!

What does a typical day in the life look like as the Director of Development, and what do you enjoy most about the role?

What’s great about this role is that no two days are the same. We have national finals days coming up, which has been keeping me very busy! I work with partners and corporate sponsors, helping to grow the profile of Netball Scotland.

My favourite part about this job is the people, and how many different individuals I get to work with on a daily basis. I love the fact that I can speak to people from all walks of life, including kids, young ambassadors, my team, the players, and corporate sponsors like Johnston Carmichael. Netball really is a sport focussed on people, it brings everyone together, putting a big smile on their faces.

What has been your career highlight so far?

I would say my career highlight so far has been obtaining this job. I love netball, and particularly Netball Scotland. I love the business, I love the people, it just feels like home to me. Now that the business and the sport is growing, my highlight has been this job becoming available, and it is the one I have always wanted. It’s truly a dream job for me.

With it being International Women’s Day, we’d love to hear how you think netball can support women and girls, and what Netball Scotland are doing to help.

One of our unique selling points here at Netball Scotland, and with netball in general, is that it’s generally a sport targeted towards women and girls, something that isn’t as common in other sports. We are passionate about creating a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for women and girls to come along to, free from all judgement. The sport doesn’t have the typical demographic and socio-economic barriers to entry that can sometimes be found in other sports, something we are very proud of.

Why do you think it’s important for young women to get into sports, particularly netball?

Team sports in general provide countless benefits for young people, both physical and mental. Especially for the current generation, coming along and playing netball can act as a form of escapism, giving young people the freedom to switch off from social media and the pressures of school and everyday life.

Netball is fantastic for the development of so many key skills - teamwork, social and interpersonal skills, and commitment and dedication to name but a few. These are all transferable skills which are required throughout life, and especially as young people enter the job market. Netball is a real community sport; these girls learn to support and respect each other from very early on.

The increased confidence which comes from playing is fantastic, and we also have countless volunteering opportunities for young people. We love to see people's progression when they come to volunteer with us, and a few have come to work with us full time.

What is Netball Scotland doing to help increase the uptake of the sport?

We have a network of Netball Development Officers though out the country who work at ground level to promote the sport and we work with Active Schools and community sports hubs. We have around 189 clubs throughout Scotland, combined with our local associations, who provide training, support, guidance, and education around the sport. We have also reintroduced a programme called InstaNet, recreational netball without structure and hard-fast rules, played in the gym hall in high schools across Scotland. This programme is to encourage physical activity, where people can come along on their lunch break just to get moving, without the requirement of a kit or any specific clothing or prior experience.

Aside from youth participation, do you have any initiatives for adults to get involved with the sport?

Of course, netball isn’t just for young people! We are actively trying to encourage more adults into the sport, whether they have played before or not, through RecNet. This isn’t just about playing netball; it’s about enjoying the sport and connecting with like-minded people. This is open to everyone, men and women, however it generally has a higher uptake from women. It doesn’t involve hardcore training and playing matches; more coming together on a weekly basis to have fun. We have run lots of sessions throughout the country, and they are always incredibly well received. We recently held our first ever RecNet festival last month in Dundee, which was a big hit! Teams from all over Scotland entered the festival and it was an amazing day and everyone loved it, so we plan to try and roll it out across the country.

Netball really is a sport focussed on people, it brings everyone together, putting a big smile on their faces.

We're looking forward to continuing to make an impact through our partnership with Netball Scotland this year. Can you tell us a bit more about the impact that partnerships and sponsorships have?

Partnerships and corporate sponsorships, such as the one we have with Johnston Carmichael, are absolutely crucial to Netball Scotland, and our success. We have managed to extend our reach of Netball Development Officers and are now in seven local authority areas, which makes up almost 50% of our membership figures. We would not be able to have the same amount of reach if we didn’t have this support from JC. Another fantastic initiative we have been able to set up due to your support is the Junior Development Fund. This is the second year it has run and is a pot of funding which junior clubs are able to bid for. They can use this funding to ease the pressures of the cost of living and the barriers which we know are in the way of participation and uptake of the sport – for example travel to competitions or reducing the fees of kit and coaching. We wouldn’t be able to offer this otherwise, and this is great for furthering the sport’s reach.

Finally, what are Netball Scotland’s plans and aspirations for the future?

Something we are very proud of is that netball is currently one of the largest participation sport in schools. However, of course we would love to become the number one sport of choice for women and girls! In addition, whilst we have a thriving junior membership, we tend to notice a higher drop off rate after school age. We are continuously working to grow and increase the profile of the sport, getting more women from all ages involved. We would like everyone to know how amazing it is to be part of netball.

Click here to find out more about our partnership with Netball Scotland.

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