In the lead up to the Diamonds representing Australia in the Netball World Cup in Sydney, primary schools across the country are being offered a new Sporting Schools pilot programme as part of the Abbott Government’s plan to get more children active and healthy through sport.

Netball Australia has joined the Abbott Government’s $100 million Sporting Schools programme to help schools increase the number of children playing sport.

Health and Sport Minister Sussan Ley renewed the call for Australian primary schools to sign up and apply for funding as she launched the new netball Sporting Schools pilot programme.

Ms Ley said over 2,700 Australian schools had signed up to be a part of Australia’s largest school-based participation initiative for children.

“Our Australian Diamonds players started their love of netball in school yards across the country and developed it further through connections with their local club,” Ms Ley said.

“That love of sport from an early age is what we’re aiming to promote through Sporting Schools and Netball is a key part of the push to support our kids become more engaged in sport.

“Sporting Schools is a key part of the Abbott Government’s plan to encourage children right across Australia to develop healthy and active lifestyles early in life.

“This programme is particularly important considering one-in-four children are now overweight or obese.”

Ms Ley said approximately three quarters of children spend their spare time watching television, only one third of children are managing the recommended hour of physical activity a day and only half are involved in sport.

“Netball and sport in general is a great way to get children right across Australia excited about active lifestyles whether it’s before, during or after school,” Ms Ley said.

“This investment will help bring schools and national sporting organisations such as Netball Australia together to provide a supportive environment that encourages participation for more than 850,000 Australian children.

“We want more schools to register to be involved with Australia’s largest school-based sporting programme. It’s not too late – so if you haven’t registered, get on board.”

Each year more than 5,700 schools will be funded through Sporting Schools for the practical delivery of sports activities that suit their local needs.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Simon Hollingsworth said primary schools are already applying for funding grants to kick start their Sporting Schools programme for Terms three or four.

“Sporting Schools is the link to help sporting bodies to work with local schools to develop a supportive environment for Australian children,” Mr Hollingsworth said.

“We are excited to be partnering with Netball Australia as well as many of Australia’s key participation sports to develop the Sporting Schools programme.

“From tennis to gymnastics, golf to netball, we are committed to providing an environment for Australian school children to get involved in sport based activity before, during and after school. This participation at a young age is critical to help children develop a deep connection to sport and healthy and active lifestyles.”

Netball Australia Head of Sport Development AnneMarie Phippard said the highly successful NetSetGO program was a perfect fit for the school environment.

“We are excited to launch NetSetGO for Sporting Schools. Our introductory program has been specially modified for this new schools initiative and will provide a sound platform for kids to move on to the full NetSetGO program conducted at their local club,” Ms Phippard said.

“It forms part of our overarching Netball Schools program that includes the NetSetGO for Sporting Schools programme (four sessions) as well as the Teacher Ambassador program and netball specific curriculum resources like the new mini Netball World Cup resource, which we are also launching today.”

Sporting Schools pilot programmes involving 12 sports will continue to be rolled out over June, with the programme to include more than 30 sports in total from July 2015.

The Netball Australia Sporting Schools programme will be made available to all schools as part of the Sporting Schools programme once the current pilot is completed at the end of the month.

More information on Sporting Schools can be found on the Australian Sports Commission website.