Thursday, 8 July 2010
NETBALL AROUND THE WORLD
Netball is the beneficiary of the single largest female sports sponsorship across Australasia, with this week’s announcement that ANZ has renewed its naming rights sponsorship for the ANZ Championship for an additional three years. As the competition prepares for its third Grand Final, which takes place this weekend, ANZ CEO New Zealand commented, “We feel privileged to have ben part of a world-class competition from its very beginning, and to have witnessed the remendous bgrowth that netball has continued to experience across both Australia and New Zealand.”
In this weekend’s Grand Final, the Adelaide Thunderbirds will line up against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, who surprised many people’s favourites for the title, the NSW Swifts, with a 54-49 victory in the minor final. Despite ending the regular season at the top of the league table, the Swifts failed to bounce back from their loss to the Thunderbirds in the first round of the play offs, and with Magic’s perennial GS Irene Van Dyk once again in sparkling form to net 38 goals from 39 attempts, the New Zealanders moved through to this weekend’s final.
Meanwhile, Southern Steel midcourter Liana Barrett-Chase has scooped this year’s prestigious ANZ Championship Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. The consistency of Barrett-Chase (pictured) over the 14 week home and away season could not be ignored by coaches of the competition’s ten teams, who vote on the award using a three, two, one points system at the conclusion of each match. She topped the standings with 36 points, to see off the NSW Swifts’ Rebecca Bulley (30 points), Steel defender Leana de Bruin (29) and Adelaide Thunderbirds’ star Jamaican shooter Carla Borrego (29).
The annual world rankings have now been refreshed and released by IFNA, and while the top four places remain unchanged (although the gap between the top two nations has narrowed to only eight points), some significant movements have occurred further down the list. Fiji has jumped to a ranking of fifth in the world, while South Africa’s Proteas have moved ahead of African rivals Malawi to take sixth place. Malawi’s Queens, which missed a series with South Africa earlier this year, slip down to seventh while Northern Ireland moves up to take 12th place. Two countries - St Vincent and The Grenadines and Maldives have lost their ranking, having played insufficient matches during the past three years and now have a rating in the second table, while three countries - Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis and the USA - have lost their rating, having played no matches during the past three years.
India’s fast-improving young side has qualified for the semi-finals of the 7th Asian U21 championships, despite losing 67-41 to defending champions Malaysia in the final round of pool matches. The side, which has been training hard ahead of the autumn’s Commonwealth Games competition, will be joined in the play offs, to be contested this weekend, by Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls, currently preparing for overseas test matches against Australia and New Zealand, suffered a set back in their build up when one of their players, Ann-Kay Griffith, was denied an intransit visa by the US Embassy last week. Griffith, who plays GA for Windalco, now faces a two week delay while the Jamaica Netball Association makes the necessary appeals to the US Embassy to enable the visas to be obtained and provided to the Canadian consultates of Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile, Georgia Gordon has been recalled to the Jamaica squad for the overseas tour, which takes place from 8-21 August, while the captaincy has been awarded to the experienced Nadine Bryan.
Tanzania’s National Netball League resumes on 25 July with 18 teams expected to compete in the week long-competition. Tanzania’s netball association Chaneta will be using the competition to identify potential national squad players ahead of the All Africa Championships, scheduled for South Africa in September. With only two qualifying spots available and 13 teams registered for the competition, Chaneta is currently seeking government and commercial sponsorship for the Taifa Queens to ensure that they are best prepared to compete at the All Africa competition.
Finally, congratulations to the U21 and U19 teams from Auckland Waitakere which this week scored the title “double” in New Zealand’s national age group championships held in Dunedin. In the finals, Auckland’s U21 side defeated Southland 40-30, while the U19s overcame a spirited challenge from Otago Gold 39-34 to take their title. More than 600 young players took part in the tournament, Netball New Zealand’s biggest participation event.