Monday, 28 January 2013

England’s netballers made history this week, winning a whitewash series against world number one side Australia for the first time ever. After taking the first test 58-53 in Bath, England made certain of a series win with a gritty and determined performance in the second game, winning it 51-49 after withstanding intense pressure from the Diamonds. The Australian side, already weakened by the non-availability of several of its big names for the tour, had to contend with the loss of captain Natalie von Bertouch due to injury before the start of the first game. However, this gave an opportunity for Queensland Firebirds’ new signing Kim Ravaillon, who has now achieved her first two international caps before taking to the court in the ANZ Championships. The final match of the series took place on Saturday in Birmingham with a final score of 58 -51.

Von Bertouch returned home to Australia and underwent surgery this week to repair the damage to her finger, which was caused in a practice match against Northern Ireland last weekend. The Diamonds captain is now in a race to regain fitness ahead of the start of the ANZ Championships season, where she will once again line up for the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler is settling into a new, colder environment this week, after arriving in Invercargill to take up her position as import for the Southern Steel for this year’s ANZ Championships. Fowler, who was one of the leading shooters at the recent Fast5 tournament in Auckland, will have a familiar face on court with her in the first round of the competition, as the Steel will face the Queensland Firebirds, with Fowler’s fellow Jamaica Romelda Aiken as the spearhead of their attack.

Village netball competitions have restarted in Samoa after the festive break, with tournaments being organised on Savaii in Palauli, Vaitoomuli and Suifaga this week. The tournaments are intended as an introduction to competitive netball for players and will also provide an opportunity for talent identification ahead of Samoa’s U21 and National Squad trials, which are to take place in Apia on 8 and 9 February.

Across the Pacific in Tonga, the country’s first “Te Tau Lava” competition will be held in March, on 9, 16 and 23rd. For more information and to register a team, please visit Tonga Netball’s Facebook page - Entries open on 4 February and close on 1 March.

Victoria Lakshmi has been elected president of Netball Federation of Sri Lanka at its Annual General Meeting this week. Lakshmi, who is also the netball secretary of Peoples Bank and the tournament secretary of the Nationalised Services Netball Association, will be supported in her new role by Shyama Cooray who was elected as the Federation’s secretary.

Finally, congratulations to the Singapore players selected for the country’s U21 side which is set to face South Africa in a series of warm up games for the World Youth Championships during the first week of February. The selected players are: Koh Hin Ann, Nur Aqilah Afiqah, Olivia Chen, Kor Li Jie, Shelby Koh, Cheryl Ann Lee, Parveen Nair, Geraldine Ng, Jocelyn Ng, Siti Nurshawallah Binte Rashid, Farah Shakina, Tan Shini, Melissa Teo, Joanna Toh, Nur Athirah Bte Zulkiffle

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Netball around the world

England beat world number one side, the Australian Diamonds in Bath on 20 January 58 -53. England, ranked number three in the world, have only ever beaten the Diamonds twice in their 59 previous meetings, once in 1981 and once on home soil in 2010. The next match in the three Test Match Series is played tonight in London and the last match will be on Saturday in Birmingham.

Namibian netball captain Toetsie Kambatuku (pictured) will continue her netball career and education in the UK, after news that she has been awarded a three year scholarship by the University of Northumbria. Kambatuku, who has played for Team Northumbria in the UK’s Netball Superleague since 2010, will enrol for a degree in education, with all her study costs and living expenses covered by the university.

Links between netball and further education have also been forged in the Caribbean with news that the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) is to award two scholarships to study at the UTech School of Sports Science to two members of the Jamaica Netball Association’s coaching staff. The selected members of staff will participate in the JNA/UTech Advanced Level One coaching course which aims to improve training standards across the country. JNBS has also announced financial support for the Sunshine Girls’ tour of England, scheduled to take place in April as well as backing for Jamaica’s leading club championships, which has now been named the JNBS/JNA Sunshine Open League.

Africa’s leading team, the Malawi Queens, has received a commercial boost this week with the news that the side is to be sponsored for the first time, courtesy of television provider Malawi Multichoice. In addition to support for the country’s national side, Malawi Multichoice is also to introduce a national club competition, featuring Malawi’s five leading teams, for which the company will cover all organisational costs as well as providing a prize fund.

Across the continent, netball has been revived in the rural villages of North Mozambique by a grassroots organisation called Manda Wilderness Community Trust. The Trust, which works with sixteen villages in the conservation area near the shore of Lake Malawi/Niassa, has established regular training and competitive games for local womens’ teams and interest in the competition is growing steadily. If you would like to donate netball equipment or funds for this project, please contact Lily Bunker at For more information about the Trust and its work, please visit

Tanzania’s Taifa Queens have announced their intention to play more international matches in the coming months, as the side attempts to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The side, currently ranked 17th in the world, recently took the Nations Cup competition in Singapore, ending the tournament undefeated, and will now look to play more matches against other African nations in order to move up the world rankings and break into the world’s top ten sides.

Back in Australia, the Victorian government has announced $30,000AU(approx. $31,600US) funding to enable Netball Victoria to host the first Melbourne Vixens Summer Challenge on 23 and 24 February. Seven ANZ Championship teams from Australia and New Zealand (Adelaide Thunderbirds, Canterbury Tactix, Melbourne Vixens, NSW Swifts, Queensland Firebirds, Southern Steel, West Coast Fever) will take part in the pre-ANZ Championships competition, which is to be played at Melbourne’s State Netball and Hockey Centre.

ANZ Championship side the Northern Mystics will be without Silver Ferns defender Charlotte Kight for the 2013 season, after the news that she had ruptured her Achilles tendon during pre-season training. Also this week, the Mystics named internationals Anna Harrison and Maria Tutaia as co-captains for the year.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Netball Takes Off in Ethiopia

Earlier this month, Denise May MBE, Director of Sport and Assistant Head teacher from Budehaven Community School, Cornwall, UK, and Jean Davies, Regional Coach, England Netball Selector and Head of Truro Netball Academy, travelled to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, to work with 30 coaches and teachers selected by the Ethiopian government to be part of the country’s netball project.

The coaching also extended to several schools, where the British visitors were excited by the raw talent and enthusiasm shown by the girls, who train on a crowded court surrounded by several hundred other students looking on. Denise May was impressed by the Ethiopians’ commitment to netball and said: “The coaches were very positive and proactive, working hard throughout the three days, showing a real passion, enthusiasm and understanding for the game, including coaching skills and officiating. They looked in detail at the various progressive stages of session planning; how to break down individual skills and transfer these into game situations. Officiating was a valuable and essential part of the training and the coaches were keen to understand the intricacies of scoring and the speed required to keep up with play.”

The event received a lot of publicity, and government officials attending the closing ceremony were extremely impressed by the positive effect netball is having on young women. The link between netballers in Britain’s south-west and Ethiopia started with a Youth Sport Trust Dreams and Teams initiative in 2007, which linked Budehaven Community School with Assossa High School. From this modest start, netball is now becoming established in Ethiopia as a national sport, as Denise May explains:
“Netball was introduced as a new sport which would have particular impact on the young women of the town, being a focus to enrich their challenging lives. There were two facets: one was enhancing literacy skills, developing cultural and global learning, staff development and whole school impact; the second was enhancing leadership skills, impacting on community cohesion and creating new opportunities for females in a deprived country. With our backing, the then PE teacher at Assossa High School, Mr Mulatu Desalegn Afrasha, made it his vocation to develop the game in the town, with his long-term goal being to see netball played as a National sport in Ethiopia.”
Support from St Austell Netball Club and South West Netball in the UK brought additional resources, in the form of netballs, playing kit, bibs and DVDs, which enabled Mulatu to start to develop the game further, and he also had an opportunity to spend time in the UK to access high quality netball coach training. He then took on a new role, working for the Zone Federation of Sport, with responsibility for sports development in his region, and he has already introduced to 15 schools.

More exciting news is that the new sports stadium in Addis Ababa, built for Ethiopia’s national athletes and local clubs and players from the regions, will have a netball court marked on the floor – and one of the female coaches trained in Assossa last year has been employed to oversee the development of netball at the centre. With enthusiastic and imaginative support from netballers in the UK, the sport is really taking hold in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is now working to train a representative side to experience playing netball in England, and the long-term goal is to further develop the Ethiopian Netball Association and build up a national team.

Can you help?
If anyone is interested in financially supporting this exciting development in sport, please contact Denise May at . There will be more on this story in the next issue of Netball World magazine.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Netball Around the World

Elize Kotze, (pictured) has been confirmed as national coach for South Africa until after the country's scheduled tour of Jamaica in June. Kotze, who was a member of a national coaching panel appointed early last year, was South Africa's head coach for the World Championships last July and, as a player, was a member of the South African team which won the silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995.

In other coaching news this week, USA Netball Association (USANA) has announced the appointment of Matthias Wilkie as the country's national coach. Mr Wilkie, who has a wealth of experience in netball and sports in general, will head a team of coaches in the mid-west, north east and south east of the country which will work directly with national squad players in those regions. They will be preparing the country's national side that will participate in the Americas Federation of Netball Associations Regional Championships in Trinidad & Tobago in July, as well as the International Fast Net Tournament which is scheduled for October in Jamaica.

Netball Australia has announced it is developing a strategic and operational plan to help Malaysian netball players take part in international competition. This is part of Australia's focus on creating an international legacy within Asia and the South Pacific following the Sydney World Championships in 2015; Malaysia is currently ranked 24th in the world. Netball Australia's Head of Sport Development and Performance Anne Marie Phippard and Participation Manager Stacey O'Neill spent a week in Kuala Lumpur recently, training 30 coaches from across Malaysia. During the workshop, the Malaysian coaches were introduced to a new programme – JomPi Jaring, based on Netball Australia's junior NetSetGo! Programme and a pilot scheme is set to be rolled out in 14 centres across Malaysia for girls aged 5-6. Netball Australia also provided modified equipment to assist in young player development.

Invercargill, in New Zealand's South Island, has been stripped of its Silver Ferns' hosting rights, but it is hoped the national team will be back in the city next year. Netball New Zealand announced this week that the quad series international double-header, which was to be played in the city on October 28, has been transferred to Tauranga's new state-of-the-art stadium, because the new Stadium Southland will not be ready in time. The Invercargill facility was damaged by heavy snow last winter, which caused severe structural damage to the building.

In Bermuda, Young Men's Social Club Lady Bluebirds completed an impressive clean-sweep of the island's competitions for 2012 by lifting the Bermuda Netball Association Knock Out Cup title last weekend. In the final, the Lady Bluebirds defeated North Village Lady Rams 44-24 to finish the season without a single defeat in the national cup, winter league and Sylvia Easterly Trophy competitions.

England's young side completed a 3-0 series win over visitors Barbados with a 73-32 victory in the third test between the two countries, played last weekend. After a disappointing display in the second test, which saw England edge the win by only five goals, the home side was in determined mood from the first whistle and player of the match Naida Hutchinson, returning to the international stage after a long break due to injury, was recognised for an impressive defensive display.

Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics are the only undefeated teams in the ANZ Championships after three round of matches, beating the Adelaide Thunderbirds 48-34 and West Coast Fever 52-45 respectively last weekend. However, the sorry start to the season continued for highly rated Waikato/BOP Magic, still without a win after losing 47-49 to the NSW Swifts to leave the New Zealand side at the bottom of the league table. Reigning champions Queensland Firebirds got their 2012 campaign back on track with a 58-32 victory over the Central Pulse, while the Southern Steel narrowly edged past the Canterbury Tactix 55-53 in an all-New Zealand clash.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


IFNA has been shortlisted for a prestigious SportAccord Spirit of Sport Award. The world governing body of netball was nominated for Netball Safaris, which have introduced netball to thousands of new players in Africa, boosting interest in women’s sport and giving girls the opportunity to play.

SportAccord is the umbrella organisation for world sports governing bodies. The Awards will be presented during the Annual Convention to be held in Quebec City, Canada, from May 20-25, and salute organisations and individuals described as ‘making an exceptional and lasting contribution to using sport as a tool for social change’.

Netball Safaris encourage talented young players and coaches from countries such as the UK to share their skills with netballers in Africa, and they are coupled with sustainable programmes that ensure netball carries on after the safari has left. Linking the safaris with local partner organisations also provides the opportunity to promote women’s health and other important community initiatives.

IFNA President, The Honourable Molly Rhone, OJ, CD said of the nomination: “This is a great honour and a well-deserved recognition of everyone who has worked so hard to make Netball Safaris the success that they are. Promoting and improving netball coaching in Africa generates interest and support for women’s sport in a continent with a wealth of untapped talent. The excitement and enthusiasm on both sides is wonderful. It is a great scheme, and I am delighted that we have been shortlisted.”

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Netball around the world

England's young side struggled against a spirited challenge from Barbados in the second Test between the two countries, before taking a 53-48 victory that established a 2-0 win in the series. England took the first Test 72-41. With many of England's established line up away on duty in the ANZ Championships, head coach Anna Mayes has taken the opportunity to give a number of new players exposure at international level, with Laura Malcolm and Kerry Almond winning their first caps during the opening test. The third match of the series takes place on Saturday.

England's netballers have a new commercial supporter too this week, with news that Maxitone, the lifestyle nutrition brand designed specifically for women, will provide the national team with tailored nutritional support to complement their training and match schedule. Information and promotions will also be targeted to the game at all levels across England. Members of the England national squad are pictured at the announcement of the partnership earlier this week.

There will be a new face at the helm of Cayman Islands netball in the coming months with the news that Australian, Gillian Lee, has been appointed as head of netball for the country. The Victoria Netball League championship division premiership-winning coach, who has been in working as head coach at Monash University Central for the past ten years, will take up her new post very shortly. The Cayman Islands offer was tailored-made for her and will involve coaching the national team as well as setting up grassroots netball in the islands, including developing a coaching programme.

Netball Samoa is also set for a coaching change, with the appointment of Marcia Hardcastle as the new head coach of the country's national team. Hardcastle, who takes over the role from Linda Vagana, is a former New Zealand U21 coach, and has a wealth of experience gained in New Zealand, including working as assistant coach to Yvonne Willering in the National Cup competition for four years, as well as coaching the Netball North provincial side in 2009 and 2011. Her daughter, Sonya Hardcastle, was named in the Silver Ferns in 1990.

In Jamaica, defending champions Jamalco scored in the final seconds of the game to draw 57-all with rivals Waulgrovians A in their Berger Paints/Jamaica Netball Association Superleague encounter this week. Waulgrovians international shooter, Jheniele Fowler, was in outstanding form, scoring 51 goals from 54 attempts and, despite the loss, her side remains at the top of the league table, ahead of Tivoli A and Jamalco. Meanwhile, Jamaica's U16 squad has arrived in the UK for a development tour during which they will face the England U17 side as well as U16 squads from the Birmingham area.

The USA Netball Association (USANA) has announced that, in partnership with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, the USA Netball National Championships will take place in Delray Beach on 23 and 24 June 2012. This is an invitational competition for national and international clubs, which will crown a national champion in several divisions, including 14 and under, 16 and under, 20 and under and open adult competition. USA Netball will also use the event to identify potential talent for the USA national team, ahead of the Americas Regional Championships in Trinidad and Tobago later this year, as well as the 2013 World Youth Championships in Glasgow.

After two rounds of competition, the 2012 ANZ Championship table has an unfamiliar look, with reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds, former champions the NSW Swifts and perennial finals contenders Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at the bottom of the pack, all without a win to their names. The Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics are tied at the top of the table with two wins from two games, while the second round of matches saw wins for last season's bottom side, the Canterbury Tactix, who overcame the NSW Swifts 54-51 and also for the Central Pulse, who took a gritty 47-42 win over coach Robin Broughton's former team, the Southern Steel. This weekend, the Thunderbirds take on the Vixens in a top of the table clash, while the Swifts and Bay of Plenty Magic face off in an encounter which many are describing as a “must win” game for both teams, if they are to make progress up the table.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Netball around the world

Malawi development coach and former international Mary Waya (pictured below in action in 2007 World Netball Championships) has signed a new one year deal that will keep her at Tanzanian team Filbert Bayi until 2013. Under the contract, Waya is expected to train the team, which is made up of school students, as well as co-ordinating netball seminars for secondary schools and other netball development teams across Dar es Salaam. Although working with the Filbert Bayi side for a few weeks, Waya's input has already seen results, with six of the club's players selected in the Tanzanian national long squad for 2012.

Blaze Dolphins were in scintillating form in Singapore's Fair Price Foundation Netball Superleague this week, seeing off Sneakers Stingrays 55-40. Meanwhile, Mission Mannas edged a tense and exciting fixture 43-41 against Nike Marlins and, despite their loss, Nike Marlins remain at the top of the table, ahead of Mission Mannas. The competition takes a break this weekend, but will resume on 14-15 April: the league's finals will be played on 28 April. For more information about the league, please visit;

In Australia and New Zealand, the 2012 ANZ Championship got off to a thrill-packed opening weekend: after the first round of matches, the new look West Coast Fever, coached by former Australian head coach Norma Plummer, top the table thanks to an impressive 55-35 win over the Canterbury Tactix. Given little chance of a win against their highly rated opponents, the Ascot Park Southern Steel got their 2012 campaign off to a flying start by defeating the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the competition's opening round this week, 49-47. An inspirational performance from former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins, who shot 33/35 despite only recently returning to action after the birth of her third child in January, lifted the Steel and allowed the team to overturn a six goal defecit in the final quarter to take a hard-earned win.

The biggest shock of the round came when reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds, who went through the 2011 competition undefeated, came unstuck against former champions the Melbourne Vixens, losing 47-42. Young shooter Karyn Howarth was in sensational form and netted 26 of her side's goals as the unfancied Vixens overturned many people's favourites for the 2012 title. In the weekend's other game, 2011 championship runners up, New Zealand's LG Mystics were pushed all the way by a revitalised Haier Central Pulse team before edging a 51-47 victory.

Meanwhile, in Tasmania, many future ANZ Championships players have been on display during the past week at the Australian U17 and U19 championships. New South Wales won its first U17 title for five years with a 38-28 victory over Victoria, while Victoria turned the tables on their rivals to take the U19 title with a 27-19 win over New South Wales. At the conclusion of the competition, Netball Australia's selectors named the country's U19 and U17 squads for 2, where many will gain their first experience of the Australian national programme. To find out more, please visit

In the UK, Northern Thunder's youth side scooped the Netball Talent League title after completing an unbeaten season. However, in the Netball Superleague their senior counterparts were handed their first defeat of the season, going down 63-62 to Surrey Storm in the competition's top tier. Celtic Dragons maintained their push for a play off place by maintaining their undefeated record in the competition's bottom tier, beating Loughborough Lightning 57-37.