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.

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