World Netball has established a Voice of the Athlete working group ©World Netball

World Netball has announced the establishment of a "Voice of the Athlete" working group, which will aim to provide input into how to develop the sport.

The working group is expected to develop a suitable framework for a future Athletes' Commission, which will be established following recommendations made to the World Netball Board.

World Netball said the launch of the working group follows the instigation of its strategic plan.

Australia’s Liz Watson, Botswana’s Francinah Eyman, England’s Stacey Francis-Bayman, Gibraltar’s Bryony Rovegno and Jamaica’s Malysha Kelly are among the athletes named on the working group.

The group is completed by New Zealand’s Katrina Rore, Samoa’s Auteletoa Tanimo, Scotland’s Emily Nicholl, Singapore’s Aqilah Andin and Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace.

The athletes were added to the group following a recruitment campaign in April.

"World Netball is committed to ensuring the voice of the athlete is at the heart of our decision-making," said Liz Nicholl, World Netball President.

"This working group has been appointed to develop recommendations on how this can best be enabled, and I am delighted that the group includes athletes from every region and with a wide range of collective experience.

"They are a credit to our sport, and I look forward to seeing their work off the court as they help to build the future of netball.

"Their collaborative input will be invaluable in helping us to grow, to play, and to inspire through netball."

World Netball says the working group consists of current athletes with at least three years’ international playing experience.

The players were endorsed by their member or regional federations or the Executive Board.

The athletes have been selected to ensure representation across the five World Netball regions.

Australia’s Liz Watson is among the athletes in the working group ©Getty Images
Australia’s Liz Watson is among the athletes in the working group ©Getty Images

"To be involved in the first World Netball, Voice of the Athlete Working Group is a great privilege," said Francis-Bayman.

"I am incredibly invigorated and passionate about being able to use my ‘seat at the table’ to be able to add creative, athlete-centred ideas that will help to drive evolution, growth and engagement across the international game."

World Netball says the working group will be chaired by Rhona Toft.

The governing body said Toft brings a wealth of experience both as an international athlete in hockey and in sports governance through the leadership of two athlete bodies.

Toft chaired the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes' Commission, before developing and launching the Commonwealth Games Federation's first Athletes Advisory Commission in 2016.

The group will be supported by World Netball Board directors Lyn Carpenter for Europe and Gaby Hochbaum for Asia.

World Netball head of events Lindsay Impett will also provide assistance.

The working group will meet up to four times in 2021 and recommendations will be made to the World Netball Board by the end of the year.

"This is an exciting step forward in achieving our vision as a sport," said Carpenter, World Netball's regional director for Europe.

"Having played netball internationally, I know first-hand the importance of ensuring athletes are heard and considered fully as everything we do involves, impacts, and affects them.

"I am very proud and passionate to be supporting this working group and I look forward to seeing the recommendations made which will impact the future of our sport."