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Making the Super League: Amber Johnson on co-ordinating the NSL and why an unapologetically female league is so powerful

Taken during the Netball Super League game between Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning at the Belle Vue Arena, Manchester, England on 3rd March 2023.

Having studied International Events Management at university, Johnson is now England Netball’s Competition and Events Coordinator.

Amber Johnson is striving to make the Netball Super League experience bigger and better than ever before.

Organising the Season Opener and Grand Final is just one part of Johnson’s role.

“For the major events, obviously tying everything together on one day, can be really tricky but really rewarding,” she says.

“I’m involved in centralising events and bringing all 10 NSL clubs together and delivering one big event.

“We do tend to go all out for these, giving the fans an amazing event experience, setting the bar, setting the tone for the rest of the season.

“We want to give the wow factor to the spectators and over broadcast as well.”

Johnson treasures the unique identities of Super League clubs and places the emphasis on what makes them stand out as different, rather than the same.

“I think what makes the league special is that all 10 teams are all very different and very unique, and I love that, I don’t think that should ever change,” she explains.

“I think in other sports sometimes the teams can be very bog standard or similar, but with netball as a sport each team has their own personality, look and feel no player looks the same, no player plays the same.

“Each club has its own identity whether that’s as a brand or from the players, and team managers.

“We are proudly female and there is no other sport like us that exists out there, so we are this really unique product that represents women and I don’t feel like there’s any other sport out there that does that, and if there is they don’t do it as well as we do.

“And that definitely inspires so many younger people.

“You’ve got players at an international standard at an NSL game on a Friday night with fans, having that interaction, and I do genuinely believe fans believe that could be them one day.

“I don’t see that there’s a stigma that it’s unachievable or so far away I feel like in netball it’s really achievable.

This season, Johnson has also taken on a role with UK Anti-Doping that has offered a very different challenge.

“I was quite nervous going into the UKAD training, it’s something I didn’t know anything about,” she reflects.

“I did a three-day very intense training course, but I learnt so much and I probably am now an expert on anti-doping!

“I delivered all the training to 10 of the Super League clubs, which was quite daunting, but after the first one I was loving it.

“I got to chat to the players in a completely different environment, that one-on-one over Zoom is not something you can say that you’ve done with all the Super League players, that was really nice.

“I definitely think it’s the best (work) that we’ve done with UKAD, I think it’s more personal having someone from England Netball deliver the training rather than an external person come in, it just builds that relationship up with the players.

“I feel really empowered that I was able to do that for them as well.”

While netball is a predominantly female sport Johnson has found it is not always easy to work in sport as a woman.

“I definitely think the higher up in the sport world that you go with the larger sports it’s more male dominated and oriented.

“As a woman I find that quite challenging, to get to that level.

“Getting there as women can be harder because we’re not always I feel the same or taken as seriously, so I find some of my personal challenges being speaking with big contractors and suppliers, it can be a very male dominated environment who sometimes don’t give women the same treatment or respect as what we deserve.

“But I also think there’s a very powerful message being proudly female, in an all-female sport, and we are a very female led organisation in terms of staffing and volunteers however, the men that do work for the organisation are brilliant and extremely empowering”.


The Netball Super League’s spotlight series Strong Women Supporting Strong Women: Making the Super League will continue throughout March to celebrate some of the women behind the scenes of the league, who are driving netball forward boldly, unapologetically and fearlessly. You can read more stories here. 

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