Friday, 20 August 2010

Netball Around the World

Scottish netballers are celebrating this week, after the decision by IFNA to award the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships to Glasgow. The competition, which will be held from 22-31 August 2013, will take place at the city’s new National Indoor Sports Arena, a venue which will also play a central role in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. IFNA President Molly Rhone is thrilled by the opportunity that these championships present for future netball growth in the region: “These two high profile netball events will not only showcase the sport but will also promote long term development and leave a lasting legacy, not just in Scotland but across the whole region of Europe.” Pictured above the Scotland youth team on their way to the Cook Islands for WYNC2009.

European netball received another boost this week with the news that Switzerland has been upgraded from Associate to Full Membership of IFNA, while Belgium has been added as a new Associate Member. Zambia and Zimbabwe have also been upgraded to Full Membership while the Solomon Islands are also new Associate Members. Welcome to you all.

Australia completed its international series against Jamaica undefeated, after a crushing 71-40 win in the final match on the Gold Coast. Jamaica, without captain Simone Forbes and veteran defender Althea Byfield, strugged to contain the pace of a Diamonds team which welcomed back GA Sharelle McMahon, who had recovered from a thigh injury.

The Sunshine Girls then travelled on to New Zealand, where they face the Silver Ferns in a two match test series. After a slow start in the first match, New Zealand finally found their range and pace to defeat Jamaica 58-35 in Christchurch. Struggling to find links in midcourt, the Ferns were only 29-21 ahead at half time, before pushing ahead to take the win. Jamaica coach Connie Francis was critical of the performances of her veteran players in this match, and has called for more intensity and commitment in the second test, which takes place in Napier on Saturday.

Following the conclusion of this series, the Ferns will travel across the Tasman to face the Diamonds in a three match series, starting on 29 August in Adelaide as preparations for the Commonwealth Games continue. Meanwhile, England will travel to Jamaica at the start of September to play a two match test series against the Sunshine Girls, who expect to welcome back Forbes, Byfield and Casey Evering, missing from the current Southern Hemisphere tour.

Gauteng North scooped South Africa’s Spar National Netball Championships title this week, with a 38-21 victory over Free State Motheo in the grand final. Led by national squad member Leigh Ann Zackey, who celebrated her birthday on finals day, Gauteng North was too strong defensively for the opposition and safely secured the side’s 19th national title. Another South African international, Erin Burger, was named player of the tournament.

Finally, following successful trials during the ANZ Championships and a vote by all member countries, IFNA has announced that its members have voted to dispense with the rule, introduced in 2007, which prevented coaching during stoppages. Bench players are also to be allowed to approach the sideline if coaching is taknig place. These changes will come into force from 23 August 2010. Urvasi Naidoo, Chief Executive of IFNA, said: “Feedback received from the trial identified this as a positive experience with no negative impact on the game. Netball is constantly evolving and the performance of the best teams in the world will be enhanced by amending the rules to allow coaching during stoppages.”

Friday, 13 August 2010


Botswana Netball is taking an important step forwards in development terms, with the announcement of a ten day performance coach and player development workshop, to be held in association with IFNA from 15-25 August 2010. Led by two international coaches – former England international Joanna Binns (right) and former TeamNorthumbria Superleague coach Anita Navin (left), the programme will support Botswana Netball Association (BONA) in developing a sustainable and self-sufficient Coach Education and Accreditation Structure, aligned to the African regional and International coaching programmes. In addition, it will support the Association in establishing a Talent Identification (TID) programme and pathway from 12 years of age to the open age group by means of a National Squad Support Programme. The workshop will coincide with a training camp for the BONA senior squad of 25 players, currently training for the African World Championships qualification competition, to be played in South Africa from 5-12 September 2010.

South African netballers also have reason to smile this week, with the news that SPAR SA is to extend its sponsorship of the game across the country for another three years. The new support agreement will be worth R14 million (approx $1.9m US) and includes grass roots development as well as support for South Africa’s international teams.

England has named its squad for the Commonwealth Games, with the experienced Karen Atkinson and Sonia Mkoloma (193 international caps between them) once again named as Co-Captains. The full England squad, which leaves for Delhi on 28 September, is: Karen Atkinson (co-captain), Sonia Mkoloma (co-captain), Pamela Cookey (vice captain), Sara Bayman, Eboni Beckford Chambers, Louisa Brownfield, Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Stacey Francis, Jo Harten, Tamsin Greenway, Geva Mentor.

New Zealand’s Silver Ferns started their preparations for the defence of their Commonwealth Games title later this year with an impressive 92-28 win in Porirua last weekend. In her first international appearance, GA Grace Rasmussen impressed with 17 goals from 18 attempts to scoop the player of the match award.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Diamonds are currently 2-0 up on world number three Jamaica in the three test series being played between the two countries. After taking the first match 59-38 in Melbourne, Australia increased the pace and pressure to take the second test 69-42 in Sydney, despite fielding a changed line up, with Amy Steel making her international debut at GD. Plummer is hopeful that captain Sharelle McMahon (the only one of the Australian squad yet to take the court in this series, due to a thigh injury) will be fit for the final match on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Friday, 6 August 2010


To ensure that opportunities to play and coach netball in Lesotho continue to grow, a week long basic coaching clinic for high school and primary school teachers has been implemented by the Lesotho Netball Association. Facilitated by Ramafahla Thamae, Maseabata Makhetha and umpire Chakatsa Lephole, the 30 participating teachers were introduced to the game’s basic rules, as well as enjoying practical sessions, and it is hoped that they will now use their newly acquired skills to extend the game’s footprint across the country. The group is pictured above.

Tanzania’s Netball Superleague has now reached the quarter finals stage, with holders JKT Mbweni and Jeshi Stars the two teams tipped to reach the final. JKT Mbweni, the reigning champion team, was too strong for Uhamiaji in the final qualification round, winning 24-15 with Nelly Anyingse top scoring with 14. Jeshi Stars put in a strong performance to overcome Filbert Bay 26-18. The tournament concludes on Sunday.

South Africa has this week announced its squad to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October, with Claudia Basson and Elzet Engelbrecht the two players ommitted from the country’s wider training squad. The Commonwealth Games squad is: Chrisna Botha, Erin Burger, Zukelwa Cwaba, Sindisiwe Gumede, Maryke Holtzhausen, Christene Markgraaf, Zanele Mdodane, Nthabiseng Moabi, Precious Mthembu, Amanda Mynhardt, Liezel Wium and Leigh-Ann Zackey. Coach Carin Strauss will have an early opportunity to assess the form of her players as a number are scheduled to take part in next week’s Spar Netball South Africa National Championships, which take place in Potchefstroom. Holtzhausen will line up for defending champions Nelson Mandela Bay, while 2009 runners up Boland have named Wium and Markgraff in their side.

Samoa faces New Zealand’s Silver Ferns in a one off test in Porirua later today, but will be without Northern Mystics defender Finau Pulu, who has declined the opportunity to line up for Samoa for fear it will affect her chances to play in the ANZ Championships, which is effectively her livelihood. If Pulu was to play for Samoa she would then be considered as an import in the league, and with teams guaranteed only one ineligible player on their books, she would likely miss out on a contract to top-name internationals.

Jamaica will be without shooter Crystal Gordon for the upcoming three match test series against Australia, which starts in Melbourne on Sunday, after the player was refused a leave absence by her US college, where she is on a volleyball scholarship. Gordon was originally named in Jamaica’s 12 player squad for the tour of Oceania, during which the Sunshine Girls will also face the Silver Ferns in two tests.

Former South Pacific Games long jump gold medallist Gabriel Qoro has been named as Fiji’s new head coach this week – the first man to be appointed in this poisition. He will now work with his predecessor Unaisi Rokoura, Fiji’s new assistant coach, and Asenaca Waqanivavalagi, who has been reappointed as team manager, as the Fiji side prepares for the 2011 World Championships.