Netballers in New Zealand are counting themselves lucky to have survived this week's devastating earthquake in Christchurch. The Canterbury Tactix are seeking an alternative venue for their ANZ Championship match, scheduled for 7 March against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, after the CBS Stadium sustained significant damage during Tuesday's quake. Southern Steel manager Gail Maclaughlan and shooter Sophia Fenwick, who were both in Christchurch at the time, escaped unhurt, while the West Coast Fever squad counted themselves lucky to fly out of Christchurch airport less than an hour before the quake struck, after scoring a 54-48 win over the Tactix the previous evening. The ANZ Championship and Netball NZ will recognise those affected by the earthquake during the third round of matches this weekend, with athletes and officials at all matches wearing black armbands and a moment's silence held before the start of each match. Volunteers will also be collecting donations for the Red Cross NZ Earthquake Relief fund at each game. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the eathquake.
England is mourning the loss of Mary Thomas MBE who passed away on the 23rd February. Mary was an England Netball Honorary Life Member and a Member of their Hall of Fame. She was an umpire for over 25 years between 1950 -1976 and was an IFNA Service Award holder. She made a life time commitment to netball and will be sadly missed.
Grenada's first professional netballer Lottysha Cato continued her outstanding form in the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague this week, netting 35 goals from 40 attempts as Celtic Dragons swept past Team Northumbria 60-22 to give the Welsh side their second win of the season. Six foot six inch Cato, who travelled to Wales in January, had previously represented her island at U23 and senior level, and hopes to provide coaching advice and inspiration to local netballers on her return in May. In other matches, former champions Mavericks defeated Loughborough Lightning 55-39 to move to the top of the table while current titleholders TeamBath were too strong for Leeds Carnegie, emerging 69-33 victors after an impressive second half surge.
Other Caribbean netballers received a welcome boost this week with the announcement that lottery operator Supreme Ventures Ltd has increased its sponsorship commitment to Jamaica's netball leagues. $46,000US has been donated to the Jamaica Netball Association to sponsor the island's A and C leagues, while additional funds have been made available to fund six scholarships for outstanding players from both competitions to assist with their educational commitments.
Netball NZ has announced a new four year broadcast partnership this week, which will ensure that domestic and international netball will be shown exclusively on Sky TV until 2015. This is the largest commercial deal to be signed by a women's sport in New Zealand. The organisation's free to air partnership has also been reviewed, with Prime TV announced as Netball NZ's new partner in this arena to give viewers the opportunity for live and delayed broadcast coverage for netball.
Fiji's netballers have introduced some new training methods as they prepare for this summer's World Championships in Singapore. This weekend, the national squad will be spending three days with the Republic of Fiji Military Force, working on team building as well as military fitness training and problem solving.
In Namibia, the first coaching development clinic for 2011 concluded in Khomas this week under the watchful eye of Wency Katjatako. Participants including school and club coaches received tuition in sports nutrition, skills and player development during the clinic and it is hoped that they will pass on this information to players across the country. A further coaching clinic will take place this weekend in Reheboth, with more planned for the remainder of the year.