AN initiative which has seen hundreds of women from County Durham return to sport has celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Since Back to Netball launched in 2008, the project has seen more than 40 social teams spring up around County Durham and hundreds of women being more active.

Fiona Holden, development officer for England Netball, said: “People love coming back to the sport because they used to do it at school. They know how to play and as soon as they get back to netball it all comes back.

“It’s a friendly atmosphere, it’s very social and it’s a great way to exercise because you’re turning up for for yourself and for your teammates.”

Some of the women who have been involved in the initiative attended a party to mark the anniversary, which was held at Framwellgate School Durham, to celebrate the milestone and say thank you to some of the coaches who have acted as inspirations for those getting back into the sport.

Alethea Elliott-Wilson, 46, from Consett, started going to sessions in the town’s leisure centre in 2012, and is part of Consett Steelers, which now has six teams playing in the social league and more than 50 members.

She said: “Coming back to netball has been great for me both physically and mentally, but the social aspect has been fantastic- to be part of a team and a club is so rewarding. Win or lose it’s great to be on court getting fit and active, with friends who I’ve met though netball.”

The club is one of 12 that has been set up as a result of the programme, which has seen the number of teams increase to 44, playing across four divisions in a social league based in Durham city.

Mrs Holden said: “My job is to set them away and get the the initial interest but what I’ve found is that because people love the sport so much they set up their own clubs.

“There are now clubs from Newton Aycliffe to Stanley, all with multiple teams playing but it’s still very much Back to Netball.

“Even if people have never played before they are welcome to come along and players are really supportive. There are a lot of friendly faces.”

Back to Netball is England Netball’s most successful participation programme and has seen about 100,000 women taking up the sport again, and helping to boost the number of players in the country by 35 per cent.

Mrs Holden added: “There’s no age limit to playing, there’s no experience necessary and you don’t need any special kit. It’s just turn up and play.”

For information about available sessions email or call 07545 924 995.