25 January 2010
Pre-season preparations for the third season of the ANZ Championships are now well under way, with two warm up tournaments confirmed for the franchises.
The Southern Steel will once again host a three day tournament in February, featuring the Queensland Firebirds as well as Kiwi sides Northern Mystics, Central Pulse, Tactix and the Steel. The Australian Institute of Sport will complete the line up for the tournament.
The competition’s official pre-season tournament will then take place at the start of March, when the Sydney Olympic Park (SOPA) Netball Cup is staged with seven of the competition’s ten teams committed to playing. Home side the NSW Swifts, winners of the SOPA Cup in 2008 and 2009, will face stiff competition from the Adelaide Thunderbirds, the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, Central Pulse, Melbourne Vixens, Queensland Firebirds and the West Coast Fever as the teams look to finalise combinations ahead of the 2010 ANZ Championships.
The Cayman Islands Netball Association Senior League launched its 2010 season this week, with an expanded competition split into two divisions. With interest in the game continuing to grow throughout the Islands, a national U16 trial has also been held, with the selected players travelling to represent their country in Barbados at the Caribbean U16 championships at Easter.
In Zimbabwe, netball is also rising up the sporting agenda, with the Bulawayo Netball Association looking to integrate teams from the country’s Community Sports Development Programme (CSDP) into their regular league competition. It is hoped that these plans will not only increase the number of people taking part in regular netball sessions but will also drive the standard of play up and ultimately improve the standard of the country’s international teams.
Former Fijian international Simone Nalatu has expressed an interest in returning to her country’s national team by making herself available for the final Pacific Cup trials to be held in Suva in March. Currently based in Queensland, Nalatu is expected to line up with other overseas-based international Talei Bari, Marjorie Parr, Sala Hide and Lusi Robanakadavu when the final trials for the 2010 side take place on 6 March.
With the severe weather conditions in the UK abating, the fixtures backlog in the Netball Superleague is starting to resolve itself. Surrey Storm continue to lead the table with three wins from three, after a 64-29 win against Leeds Carnegie, with former champions Mavericks and TeamBath close behind. This week, Storm hosts TeamBath in the match up of the round, while former finalists Loughborough Lightning will be looking to score the side’s first win of the season against close rivals Mavericks.