Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Netball around the world

Mwawi Kumwenda (pictured above winning the World Netball Series 2009 Player of the Series Award) will become the first Malawian netballer to play overseas when she joins Australian club side Peninsula Waves at the end of this month. And she completed her domestic season in fine style last weekend, helping Escom Sisters take Malawi's OG Issa Blantyre and Districts league title thanks to a 36-26 victory over Bingu Tigresses. Kumwenda was also named the best shooter in the competition.

Meanwhile, delegates from IFNA have this week visited Sydney to assess the country's bid to host the 2015 World Netball Championships. Led by IFNA president Molly Rhone, the delegation met representatives of key stakeholders involved in Australia's bid to host the competition, including Netball Australia, the New South Wales government, Sydney Olympic Park Authority and Events NSW. The IFNA board will meet and discuss the submissions from Sydney and Manchester, the other city competing for the right to host the competition, in March.

In Jamaica, the inaugural JNA Fast Net competition play offs are now underway, to identify the four teams to take part in the tournament which will take place this weekend. The four semi finalists from Group B of the Jamaican Open league will face the four bottom sides of the elite Group A league to identify the strongest teams who will move through to the main Fast Net competition. Meanwhile, the country's top two club sides, Jamalco and Tivoli A, will meet each other in competition for the first time this season when they meet in the JNBS/Jamaica Netball Association Group A Open league this week. Both sides are undefeated after six rounds of matches.

Former Silver Fern Marg Foster has been appointed as head coach for the Cook Islands national development squad. Foster was previously assistant coach for the Southern Steel in the ANZ Championships and was recently appointed as the assistant coach for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic squad, working alongside head coach Noelene Taurua. A key part of her new role will involve mentoring the Islands' Rarotonga-based assistant and apprentice coaches, as the Cook Islands works towards fielding a higher percentage of locally based players in the country's national teams.

The new season of the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague is under way, with the first round of matches now completed. Reigning champions Team Bath are yet to start the defence of their title, but last season's runners up, Mavericks, lost 44-39 to a revitalised Northern Thunder squad. Surrey Storm, the side which ended the regular season in 2010 undefeated, beat Northumbria 58-32 while Leeds Carnegie were too strong for Celtic Dragons 53-42 and Loughborough Lightning overwhelmed Glasgow Wildcats 68-26.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Netball around the World

New Zealanders will wake up tomorrow to discover that their national netball team, the Silver Ferns, has replaced Australia at the top of the world rankings for the first time since IFNA introduced the new ratings system in 2007. After a hard fought 3-0 series win over England this week. A single point separates the Silver Ferns from reigning world champions Australia who move down to second place after their series with Jamaica ended with one match apiece and one match drawn (The Diamonds taking the series officially on goal difference).

New Zealand took the first Test against England 42-40 and second 41-39, despite failing to show the class which brought them the Commonwealth Games title in Delhi last year. England will be disappointed to have let slip a potentially match-winning lead in the third Test, having left the court at half time 19-16 up, before allowing the Silver Ferns to regroup and take the match 47-40.

Diamonds coach Norma Plummer juggled her line up once more for the second Test against Jamaica in Kingston to test combinations ahead of the World Championships, but the Diamonds did not play with their usual consistency as a result, and the match ended in a 49-all draw. The final game of the series, played in front of a packed house at the National Indoor Sports Centre, saw the Sunshine Girls, in inspired form, take the match 54-51 and tie the series. With this win the Sunshine Girls have closed the gap between England and Jamaica and with the World Netball Championships in Singapore fast approaching there is everything to play for.

For the full list of up to date world rankings, please visit the IFNA section of the website -

Tanzania's netball association, CHANETA, has confirmed that a second division of its national league will be set up this season, to provide a development pathway for players into the country's national league. Seven teams have already confirmed their participation for the coming season, and it is hoped that more will enter before the league's February deadline and encourage increased competition, thus encouraging competition and raising playing standards.

The 32 members of Fiji's national squad have completed a rigorous fitness Test this week, ahead of trials for the Pacific Games and World Championships, which take place later on this year. National team manager Asenaca Waqanivavalagi confirmed that results from the Test will be compared with those from Tests undertaken in November, to assess players' levels of training and performance as part of the national team selection process for the two competitions.

With the start of the new season less than a month away, the organisers of the ANZ Championships have announced OfficeMax as the league's new associate sponsor. The two year agreement will see OfficeMax sit alongside Holden as a major partner for the league in both Australia and New Zealand.

Finally, the board of Netball Queensland has set up a relief fund to assist all those affected by the devastating floods across the area, with an initial donation of $10,000AU. The Queensland Academy of Sport, used by the Firebirds as a training base for the ANZ Championships, has been turned into a flood relief centre: the Firebirds have announced that they will be fundraising for those affected by the disaster at their first home game of the season, against the New South Wales Swifts on 21 February 2011. For more information, and to make a donation to the relief fund, please visit

Friday, 14 January 2011

Netball around the world

Congratulations to Ruth Aitken (pictured here) who reaches a coaching milestone this week, when she becomes only the second person to have coached New Zealand in 100 Tests. Aitken, who will pass Lois Moir's record of 108 tests in charge at this summer's World Netball Championships, will reach her century milestone at this weekend's Test match between New Zealand and England in Manchester.

Aitken will need all her coaching skills to hands after late changes to her squad: on the eve of the Silver Ferns' departure from New Zealand, mid-courter Grace Rasmussen failed to recover from an ankle injury and was replaced in the squad by Central Pulse's Camilla Lees. On arrival in England, the Ferns faced further problems, with Liana Leota pulling up with a calf injury during the Ferns' first training session: having battled similar injuries in the past, Leota is a risk for the first Test between the two countries.

Reigning world champions, Australia, opened their build up to the 2011 World Netball Championships with a 63-51 victory over Jamaica in the first of a three match Test series between the two nations, in Kingston this week. Diamonds captain Sharelle McMahon once again led her team from the front, ably supported by an impressive performance by young centre courter Madison Browne. The second match in the series will be played this evening (Friday), while the third and final encounter takes place on Sunday (16 January).

South Africa's head coach Carin Strauss and assistant coach Cecilia Molokwane, have both resigned this week for personal reasons. Strauss, who took over the role in 2008, has decided to focus on her career in school netball as well as her own netball academy. South Africa's ranking improved from 9th to 6th during her time in charge. A panel of nine coaches, under the leadership of head coach Benny Saayman, will now take charge of the country's national programme in the run up to the World Netball Championships in Singapore.

Tanzania's governing body Chaneta has announced a week-long seminar for local coaches at the start of April, which aims to update coaching skills and provide guidance on youth development programmes. Tanzania is aiming to qualify for the 2013 World Youth Championships in Glasgow in 2013 and Chaneta secretary general Rose Mkisi believes that these new techniques will be crucial in realising this ambition.

Congratulations to the winners of Pakistan's 31st National Games, held recently in Peshawar. The Army defeated the Police for first place in the women's section of the competition, which was organised by the Pakistan Olympic Association and KPK Olympic Association, while the Army defeated Sindh to take the top spot in the men's tournament.

Botswana's netballers go into camp this weekend as their preparations get under way for the World Netball Championships in Singapore. National coach Seipeng Galesiwe aims to hold two training sessions a month ahead of the country's second appearance in the competition, after the 18th ranked nation made its debut at the 2007 competition.

The Swaziland National Netball Association has announced a one day “Netball Spectacular”, to take place in Lobamba at the end of January. Teams of juniors, seniors and male players will be involved in the competition, which aims to encourage increased participation at all levels, as well as generate interest in umpiring and coaching.

Finally, our thoughts are with all in the netball family who have been affected by the devastating floods in Australia and Sri Lanka. Hope this damp start does not affect too many netballers 2011.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Netball around the World

Three players who narrowly missed out on Commonwealth Games selection have been named in the Australian squad to face Jamaica in a three match test series later this month. Kate Beveridge, Madison Browne and Amy Steel were overlooked for a spot in the Diamonds team which lost the thrilling Commonwealth Games final in double overtime, but have forced their way into the touring team as competition heats up for places in Australia's World Championships line up. The full Australian squad to face Jamaica is: Kate Beveridge, Madison Browne, Rebecca Bulley, Cath Cox, Susan Fuhrmann, Laura Geitz, Kimberlee Green, Sharelle McMahon (capt), Natalie Medhurst, Lauren Nourse, Amy Steel, Natalie von Bertouch (vice capt). The test matches will be played at Kingston's National Indoor Sports Centre on 12, 14 and 16 January.

Meanwhile the Silver Ferns are preparing to travel to England for a three Test Match Series, the first match is this Saturday the 15th in Manchester followed by Nottingham on the 17th and concluding at the O2 Arena in London on the 19th.

Silver Ferns captain Casey Williams (pictured above with the World Netball Series Trophy) has been nominated as Sportswoman of the Year at New Zealand's Westpac Halberg 2010 Awards, which recogise outstanding performances by the country's athletes in domestic and international competitions. Williams, who captained her side to its dramatic double overtime victory in the Commonwealth Games final in Delhi, will learn whether she has been successful against the other four finalists at a glittering ceremony to be held in February 2011.

Fiji received a boost this week with the news that Mere Rabuka, national captain at the last world championships in Auckland, has made herself available for selection for the 2011 competition. Rabuka, who played at the 2003 and 2007 championships, is currently studying at Sydney University and confirmed that she will be attending Fiji's national squad trials at the end of January.

Congratulations to Ugandan club team NIC which is one of three sides nominated in the newly introduced Team of the Year category at the country's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year awards. NIC, which dominated competitions across the country over the past year, is nominated for the award alongside Premier Cricket Club, basketball league champions Power and Mariam High School's badminton team. A date for the presentation will be confirmed shortly.

One of Malawi's top domestic teams, Escom Sisters, received unwelcome news this week with the announcement that the Electricity Supply Company of Malawi is to withdraw its sponsorship of the team, as well as its involvement with the country's leading football side, Escom United FC. Despite Escom Sisters winning all of the domestic competitions open to them this season, the decision was reached following an instruction from the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority to curtail all sports sponsorship. The Sisters are now seeking alternative sponsorship from other sources.