Friday, 29 October 2010


Australian club side the South East Demons (pictured) have arrived in Vanuatu ahead of three test matches against the islands’ national team, which start tomorrow (Saturday). In addition to the competitive matches, Demons players and management will also be holding a series of coaching workshops for players of all ages, as well as passing on coach education across the country.

Also in Vanuatu, the country’s first Vanuatu Beach Games will take place on 29 November, featuring Beach Volleyball alongside the country’s first Beach Netball competition. Proceeds from the tournament will contribute to the cost of Vanuatu’s planned tour to Australia in 2011, as well as the Beach Volleyball side’s future plans.

Jamaica Netball Association president Marva Barnard has this week confirmed that the Association has approached former Australia coach Jill McIntosh with a view to her joining the coaching team for the Sunshine Girls in the run up to the World Championships in 2011. McIntosh, who won multiple World titles both as a player and coach, recently spent six weeks in Jamaica working with local coaches in the Jamaica Award Netball Coaching certification programme. Contractual details are still to be finalised, but the JNA is confident that McIntosh will be in post from February 2011 for a five month period.

In Pakistan, the Karachi Girls Netball Cup is now under way. Organised by the Sindh Netball Association in association with the Pakistan Netball Federation, the competition features teams from across the region, with the finals to be concluded this weekend.

The Netball Association of Ghana (NAG) is holding a special one day tournament this weekend in Kaneshie Accra as part of the country’s preparations for future international competitions. The “Pure Joy Netball Tournament”, sponsored by TT Brothers Ltd, will feature teams from across the country, and is also aimed at increasing awareness of and participation in netball throughout Ghana.

Congratulations to IFNA Vice President Kereyn Smith, who has been appointed secretary general of the NZ Olympic Committee. The tenth person appointed to the role, Smith will lead the country's Olympic and Commonwealth sport into the new decade and will be the first woman in charge of the organisation.

Finally, Sylvester Campbell, Jamaica’s top umpire, has announced that the recent Delhi Commonwealth Games will probably be his last international tournament. Campbell, who has officiated at the top levels of the game for the past 20 years, has not ruled out overseeing home internationals, but believes that the time is now right for him to step aside from major competitions.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Netball around the World

Following their thrilling battle in last week's Commonwealth Games final, the heat is on with New Zealand and Australia announcing their squads for the World Netball Series 2010 which takes place in Liverpool, UK, next month.

New Zealand will be captained by former Silver Fern Maree Bowden, and the side includes Grace Rasmussen, who was part of the gold medal winning side in Delhi. Rasmussen's sister Rachel is also included in a Silver Ferns representative squad for the first time. The remaining squad members are: Kayla Cullen, Ellen Halfpenny, Charlotte Kight, Camilla Lees, Jess Moulds, Hayley Saunders, Te Huinga Selby Rickett and Anna Thompson, and the group will be coached by Robin Broughton.

Netball Australia has chosen to rest its squad of 12 players who claimed silver in Delhi and has instead named a side of emerging talent to take part in the FastNet competition. Three members of the wider Australian Diamonds squad - Kate Beveridge, Madison Browne and Amy Steel - have been included after narrowly missing out on selection for Delhi and will be joined by Chanel Gomes and April Letton, named MVPs in this year's Australian National Championships (pictured). The other squad members are: Caitlin Bassett, Shae Bolton, Ashleigh Brazil, Teagan Caldwell and Sharni Leyton.

The World Netball Series sees Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Malawi and South Africa competing in the Fast Net format. It takes place 19th, 20th and 21st November at the Echo Arena. Visit for tickets.

20 year old Malawi shooter Mwayi Kumwenda has announced that she will be spending a season playing in Australia, after being awarded a scholarship by the Victorian club Peninsula Waves. Kumwenda, who was Malawi's leading shooter at the Commonwealth Games,will travel to Australia in spring 2011 to take up her scholarship. Pictured above winning the Player of the Series at the World Netball Series 2009.

It was announced yesterday that IFNA Vice President. Kereyn Smith, will be the first woman to lead the New Zealand Olympic Committee after being named as the Organisations new Secretary General. Kereyn will take up her new post in January 2011. Congratulations from all at IFNA.

Former England international Ama Agbeze has been named as the final member of the West Coast Fever squad for the 2011 ANZ Championship season. Agbeze returns to the Fever side after seasons with the Melbourne Vixens and Central Pulse.

Finally IFNA has this week announced a series of initiatives which are designed to improve standards of match officiating across the sport. In addition to the publication of a new table officials handbook in November, it has been announced that fitness levels for umpires will be assessed during the World Netball Series in Liverpool and research undertaken to enable new fitness standards to be set for netball's international officials and announced in early 2011.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Kate Palmer, Netball Australia CEO, Molly Rhone, IFNA President and Urvasi Naidoo, IFNA CEO took time out of their busy schedules during the Commonwealth Games to visit the GOAL programme this week. GOAL, IFNA's award winning programme, runs in partnership with Standard Chartered and the NAZ Trust. It offers girls from underprivileged backgrounds the opportunity to play netball and gain valuable life skills. It runs in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. The picture was taken at the Deepalya site in Delhi.

On the court, the Commonwealth Games competition reached a thrilling conclusion, with New Zealand's Silver Ferns retaining their Commonwealth title after a pulsating double extra-time victory over World Champions Australia, 66-64. New Zealand defender Anna Scarlett played a key role in helping the Ferns to turn around the Diamonds's early six goal advantage, before leaving the court with a finger injury. Without her height on court, Australia found it easier to feed their shooters, and levelled the scores at the end of the 60 minute period. Scarlett returned to the court for the extra time period, and Australia once again struggled in attack. However, the scores were still level at the end of the second period of extra time, and a further eight minutes were played before Maria Tutaia held her nerve to sink the long range goal that retained the title for New Zealand.

In the bronze medal match, England recovered from their close losses to Australia and New Zealand earlier in the tournament to register an impressive 71-47 win against Jamaica, to retain the bronze medal which they won in 2006. England's defensive combination of Sonia Mkoloma and Geva Mentor shut down possession to Jamaica's Romelda Aiken, and with shooters Louisa Brownfield and Pamela Cookey in commanding form, England eased to a simple win.

Finally this week, Vanuatu Netball has announced a three match test series for the island's national team against Australia's South East Demons club side, which will take place in Vanuatu from 30 October - 3 November.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Netball Around the World

Despite concerns before the start about safety and construction issues, the Delhi Commonwealth Games is now under way. And for five netballers, the glittering opening ceremony, held in front of a capacity crowd, was a particularly significant event, as they were all chosen to carry their national flags into the stadium.

Sharelle McMahon (pictured against India), who is competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games, led out the Australian team, while Laurel Browne carried the flag for Barbados. Jamaica’s Simone Forbes, who has represented her country in five sports – basketball, football, softball and volleyball – was chosen to lead out the island’s athletes. Irene van Dyk, who became the most capped Silver Fern of all time in her second game of the competition, marched at the head of the New Zealand athletes and the perennial Mary Waya, one of the oldest netball competitors at 42 years of age, beamed her way round the track as the leader of the Malawi contingent.

On court, competition newcomers India have found the going tough, with Australia handing out a record breaking 113-18 to the home nation in the pool matches. The Indians, playing in their first Commonwealth Games competition, could not cope with the pace and power of the Diamonds, and despite the crowd cheering every successful path, found the gap in class too huge to bridge. Meanwhile, reigning Commonwealth champions New Zealand also broke the century with a 102-21 win over Papua New Guinea, but were made to battle from behind to defeat England in their group 47-41 having trailed at half time. Pool matches continue this weekend, before the play offs start at the beginning of next week, with the medal matches scheduled for Thursday (14 October).

Despite their international baptism of fire, Indian netballers have cause for celebration this week, after Australia’s sports minister Mark Arbib this week launched a RS 200 million programme ($4.5 million US) aimed at developing sports facilities across India for disadvantaged children. IFNA’s GOAL programme, which provides regular training and match play for more than 1000 girls and young women across the country, was cited at the launch event as an example of how sport can make significant differences at the grass roots and it is hoped that the new programme will allow GOAL to expand its reach still further.

Finally, Netball Namibia has announced its first national training camp of 2010, to take place in October. The camp, to last for two days, will allow the national senior and U21 sides to prepare for the Six Nations Cup and African Youth Games, to take place in Singapore and Swaziland respectively later this year.

Friday, 1 October 2010

With less than three days to go to the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, all the competing netball sides are now settled in the athletes’ village and making final preparations for the start of the competition on 4 October. And despite the heavy training schedules, there has still been time for discovering more about the Indian subcontinent and culture: four members of the Australian Diamonds (pictured above) took the opportunity to learn a traditional dance from students at Delhi’s Banyan Tree School. Laura Geitz, Lauren Nourse, Susan Pratley and Natalie Medhurst encountered the dancers, who had just performed at a welcoming ceremony for the Namibian and Kenyan teams, in the athletes’ village and took some time out to learn some new dance moves, along with finger cymbals and twirling scarves. However, the interlude provided only light relief ahead of the opening ceremony and the first match of the competition, in which Australia faces Samoa.

The IFNA President, Molly Rhone and the IFNA Chief Executive, Urvasi Naidoo are already in Delhi and have inspected both the competition venue and the practice venue. The President described the facilities as "world class" and said she is looking forward to watching some closely contended matches.

While the international netball world awaits the start of the Commonwealth Games competition, domestic championships continue apace. The Feroza Begum ninth National Womens’ Championship is currently under way in Pakistan, with eight teams competing. Organised by the Pakistan Netball Federation, in association with the Sindh Sports Department and Sindh Netball Association, the tournament will identify the five qualifying teams for the 31st Pakistan National Games, the country’s major multi-sports event.

In New Zealand, the final of the Lion Foundation Netball Championships will take place between defending champions Auckland Aitakere and Mainland Foundation Canterbury. This will be the first Grand Final appearance for Canterbury since 2002. Meanwhile, third and fourth place will be contested between Ascot Park Hotel Southland and Pak’n’Save Wellington.

Victoria reversed the result of last season’s grand final, defeating reigning champions New South Wales 45-37 on the third day of Australia’s National U21 championships in a result which leaves the Victorians as the new favourites for the title and moves the champions into second place in the table. Queensland is currently in third place, after a 54-39 win against ACT, while the Western Australia team kept its hopes of a finals place alive with a stirring 49-44 win over South Australia. The competition concludes on Saturday.

Four teams are tied with two wins apiece at the top of England’s Premier 1 National Clubs league - Academy, New Cambell, Linden and Oaksway. However, with Academy hosting Oaksway, Linden travelling to Oldham and New Cambell facing Bournemouth 7s Blades this weekend, an outright league leader should emerge by the end of the weekend.