Women's Sport: Surrey Storm's 'The Stay at Home Shootout' inspires to keep netball community engaged through coronavirus quarantine

Team Bath v Surrey Storm - Vitality Netball Superleague

Surrey Storm leads the way in netball's social distancing entertainment with their innovative 'Stay at Home Shootout.'  

As people everywhere across the sporting spectrum adjust to the new collective reality of social distancing and self-isolation, clubs and players have sought innovative ways to maintain interest and morale.

Premier League football clubs have virtually competed at noughts and crosses in lieu of their fixtures which have been postponed, sports stars have challenged each other to kick-ups with toilet rolls and now Vitality Netball Superleague club Surrey Storm presents the first-ever, 'Stay at Home Shootout.' 

The tournament, masterminded by Surrey Storm's Fan Engagement Co-ordinator Tom Bonnett, is designed to keep fans hooked onto netball after the Vitality Netball Superleague announced the league would be postponed until April 30th.

England Netball Rose and Manchester Thunder star Eleanor Cardwell head up the netball all-star line-up set compete in the tournament. Cardwell will shoot against 15 other competitors including her own head coach, Thunder's Karen Greig, and former England Netball man's captain Gary Patrick Brown.   

Speaking to Bonnett about his unique idea which will involve stars shoot rolled-up socks into a bin placed 4-5 metres away, he said: "I’m a big advocate for staying active, especially under the circumstances, so bringing netball and exercise together during potential isolation or social distancing was at the top of my priority list."

We wanted to keep things upbeat during a very difficult time for everyone, so something as simple as shooting socks can hopefully keep people smiling!"

It is no secret that social media accounts are the glue that binds the netball community around the world together. With only one of five Superleague fixtures broadcasted each week fans are often compelled to follow clubs' Twitter accounts in order to stay up to date with results. 

Sensing this responsibility, clubs (when the Superleague is on) are committed to informing. Furiously live blogging games with often impressive detail, it is with the help of these determined social media managers that fans are able to be engaged in the league as much as possible. 

This phenomenon was also something Bonnett recognised and wants to tap into during the tournament:

"Throughout the season, fans naturally build connections with the players, and if we can try and continue that during this difficult time, it keeps fans involved and gives them a reason to come back after the break." 

The online tournament will kick off on Monday where competitors have until 6 pm to submit their first-round attempts. 

When asked if Bonnett was already concocting the club's next challenge he shared, "We do have some other ideas in the works, all with an intention of being fun, and also keeping families entertained while we are all at home!"

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