Thursday, 28 April 2011

Netball around the world - Weekly Round Up

Botswana's netballers received a timely boost to their World Championships preparations this week, ahead of this weekend's tri-nations competition to be held in Gaborone. The Botswana Netball Association has announced an increased sponsorship package for the national squad of BP150,000 (approx $23,500US) from Motor Centre Botswana, which will assist in funding the team's build up to the Singapore competition. The money will also be used to support the country's U21 side, which is preparing for the Confederation of South African Netball Association competition, to be played in Namibia later this year (picture shows Botswana – in light blue – in action during the 2010 competition).

World number three England were shocked by a fierce fight back in the last period of the first test against Jamaica in Kingston, letting slip a four goal lead at three quarter time to go down 57-56 to the fourth-ranked home side. The second test takes place in Kingston tonight (Thursday) with the final game on Saturday and while both teams are currently without key personnel who are playing in the ANZ Championships, taking a winning psychological advantage into the Singapore World Championships will be of prime importance to both coaches.

Netball Fiji has announced that the coaching duties for the national squad are to be shared in the run up to the Singapore World Championships, with Gabriel Qoro and Una Rokoura taking personal responsibility for specific areas of training. Fiji's national selectors made the decision after the side's recent tour of Australia and hope that it will ensure the team (currently touring New Zealand) will be better prepared for the World Championships.

Four of the five nominees for the ANZ Championship young player of the year award have now been named: 19 year old Kayla Cullen of the Northern Mystics is nominated for the second year in a row, along with Ashleigh Brazill (NSW Swifts), Chelsea Pitman (Queensland Firebirds) and Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick (Waikato BOP Magic). The final nominee will be announced during this weekend's round of matches and the winner announced during the Grand Final week in May.

With only one round of the regular ANZ Championship season remaining, only two sides have confirmed their place in the play offs. The Mission Foods Queensland Firebirds withstood a spirited performance from the West Coast Fever to maintain their unbeaten position at the top of the table 56-54, while the Waikato BOP Magic were impressive in overcoming last season's champions the Adelaide Thunderbirds 55-36 and both are now assured of their spot in the final weeks of the competition. However, behind them, three teams are left to fight it out for the remaining two play off places – the Melbourne Vixens, Sydney Swifts and Northern Mystics are tied on points, and with the Vixens and Swifts facing off against each other in Melbourne in the final round of matches, a win for the Northern Mystics away to the Southern Steel could propel the New Zealand side into their first ANZ Championship finals series.

Thilaka Jinabasa from Sri Lanka has arrived in Brunei to take up her position as the country's new national netball coach. Jinabasa, who was appointed by Brunei's Ministry for Culture Youth and Sport to improve the standards of netball played across the country, as well as focusing on the national squad's performances, is targetting 2013 for Brunei's first appearance in international competitions. IFNA anticipates Brunei will apply for IFNA membership this year.

Australia's selectors have named the country's U21 squad for 2011 which will tour New Zealand in June. Eight of the athletes named have moved up from last year's U19 team, while the defensive group features four players - Chanel Gomez (West Coast Fever), April Letton (Queensland Firebirds), Kate Shimmin (Adelaide Thunderbirds) and Micaela Wilson (Melbourne Vixens) – who have gained ANZ Championship experience this season, along with Maddy Proud (Adelaide Thunderbirds) and Ameliaranne Wells (Queensland Firebirds). The remainder of the squad, which will play a three match test series against its New Zealand counter parts, is: Shannon Eagland, Sarah East, Nicola Gray, Stephanie Puopolo, Verity Simmons and Stephanie Wood.

Finally Anderson High School from the remote Shetland Islands are celebrating this week, after scooping the Open Gold Scottish Schools Netball cup, defeating Holy Cross High School from Hamilton 43-29. Congratulations to them.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cathrine Latu CAS finds case inadmissible

Under the current IFNA regulations Cathrine Latu, who played for Samoa in the last World Netball Championships 2007, is ineligible to play for New Zealand in the forthcoming World Netball Championships 2011.

Netball New Zealand requested IFNA to exercise discretion in favour of Latu on the basis that there were exceptional circumstances, and that request was denied in March 2009 and again in October 2009. According to the CAS Arbitration Rules an appeal against a federation ruling must be submitted within 21 days of receipt of the decision. The appeal in this case was only filed in December 2010 and the CAS determined on Thursday 21st April 2011 that the case was inadmissible as it was submitted out of time.

The decision of CAS is final and binding on both parties. The Board decision refusing to exercise discretion in favour of Cathrine Latu stands and accordingly she will not be eligible to play for New Zealand in the forthcoming World Netball Championships which takes place in July 2011 in Singapore.

IFNA spokesperson Urvasi Naidoo, IFNA Chief Executive Officer, stated that IFNA was glad that the case had been resolved and that the international netball community could now fully concentrate on preparations for the Championships.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

South African netball has taken a step towards professionalism this week, with the announcement of a new competition – the Netball Grand Series (NGS). Conceived and developed by former Proteas captain Dr Eljse Jordaan (pictured in action against New Zealand), the competition will replace the current National Netball League (NNL) and will feature eight regional teams: the Black Diamonds (Gauteng Central and West), Stalight Jets (Gauteng Ekurheleni, Mpumalanga and Gauteng Vaal), Galaxy Blues (Gauteng North and Limpopo), Red Kestrels (North West), Lightning Roses (Free State and Griqualand West), Kingdom Queens (KwaZulu-Natal and Ethekweni), Ibhayi Gales (Nelson Mandela Bay and the Western Cape) and Western Storms (Western Province and Boland). A schools competition, featuring 48 teams (eight from each region) will run concurrently with the NGS, with schools matches played as curtain raisers to the league games. It is hoped that this will enable talent identification and provide a development path for young players to the U21 South Africa squad.

Offering a rare opportunity for Botswanan netballers to watch international netball on home soil, the Botswana Netball Association has announced it will host a tri-nations tournament from 30 April to 1 May to include Singapore and South Africa. A sprung wooden court has been obtained from the South African Netball Association – something which many Botswanan netballers have only encountered for the first time when playing at the World Championships.

England's netballers arrive in Jamaica this weekend for a three match test series against the Sunshine Girls as both sides prepare for this summer's World Championships. There was a blow to the Jamaican side, as it was announced this week that experienced defender Kasey Evering, has reinjured her surgically restructured left knee while playing in the ANZ Championships, and will miss this summer's World Championships while undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme.

New Zealand this week named their squad for the World Netball Championships, experienced defender Joline Henry has also been included in the squad, despite missing much of the current ANZ Championships season, but must pass a medical assessment before competing. The full New Zealand squad is: Leana de Bruin, Temepara George (vice captain), Katrina Grant, Paula Griffin, Joline Henry (subject to medical approval), Laura Langman, Leana Leota, Cathrine Latu (subject to eligibility approval), Anna Scarlett, Maria Tutaia, Irene Van Dyk, Casey Williams (captain),

Australian international Simone McKinnis has tendered her resignation as coach of Tanzania's international squad, following a troubled four month stay in the country.

England retained the Netball Europe championships in the Open, U19 and U17 age groups, despite fielding an experimental side in the Open section, which was designed to test the strength in depth available to coach Sue Hawkins. All three sides were undefeated across the weekend's competitions.

Friday, 15 April 2011

South Africa's netballers have linked their preparations for this summer's World Championships with their government's latest initiative, Magnificent Fridays, which aims to galvanise support across the country for the national teams as they participate in international fixtures. From now until the World Netball Championships, Proteas fans are being encouraged to show their support for the South African side by wearing green and gold t-shirts every Friday, following similar campaigns before last year's football World Cup and the recent Cricket World Cup. It is hoped that the initiative will inspire supporters of all ages to get behind the national team as they prepare for the Singapore competition, while events will be co-ordinated on Fridays across the country to encourage participation among players of all ages. For more information, visit the Netball South Africa website at - members of the national squad are pictured in their new green and gold tops.

Jamaica's selectors have announced that they will name their 12 player squad for the World Netball Championships after the completion of the three test Supreme Ventures Sunshine Series, to be played against England at the end of April. World number three England will be without midcourter Sara Bayman for this series, and for the World Netball Championships, after the centre court suffered a knee ligament injury while playing for Northern Thunder in the UK Fiat Netball SuperLeague last week.

Following the season ending Achilles injury suffered by Sharelle McMahon, Netball Australia has this week promoted Natalie Von Bertouch to the role of captain for the World Netball Championships. In addition to McMahon, defending champions, the Australian Diamonds, will also be unable to select midcourt player Lauren Nourse, who tore a knee ligament in the ANZ Championships this week and is now out for the rest of the season.

Australia-based shooter Matelita Shaw Tadulala has withdrawn her name from the Fiji squad selected for the World Netball Championships. Tadulala, who was called into the squad in place of the injured Taraima Rara earlier this year, is understood to have been unable to commit to staying in Fiji between now and the July competition. A decision on her replacement is expected shortly. Meanwhile, former New Zealand coach Yvonne Willering will assist the Fiji squad on their Australia training tour, which starts on 25 April.

The Brunei Darussalam Schools Sports Council team MSSB emerged as champions in the sixth Brunei Netball Association President's Cup Open Championship this week, defeating Ivy League 23-20 in the final. The winners received a trophy from the President of the Brunei NA as well as a prize of $500. The three day competition, which featured 11 teams from across the country, aims to provide increased match play and improve national playing standards as well as giving umpires greater opportunity to experience high level competition.

In the ANZ Championships, the Queensland Firebirds defeated the Melbourne Vixens 57-36 to ensure their first appearance in the end of season finals series. However, with three regular rounds of competition remaining, four teams are still in contention for the other three finals places, with the Vixens, Sydney Swifts, Northern Mystics and Waikato BOP Magic still fighting for points. In the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague, Hertfordshire Mavericks remain at the top of the table, followed by Northern Thunder, reigning champions TeamBath and Surrey Storm with four rounds of regular competition remaining.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Netball Around the World

Vanuatu's youngest netballers will benefit from a new sponsorship agreement signed this week, between the Vanuatu Netball Association and Westpac Bank. In addition to providing financial assistance with development programmes for the youngest players across the country, Westpac's new sponsorship package includes prizes for junior competitions as well as advice for young players on money management from Westpac's financial experts. Moana Korikalo from Westpac is pictured signing the new agreement with members of Vanuatu's Development team. Meanwhile, additional funding through the Pacific Netball Partnership has enabled the Vanuatu Netball Association to extend its outreach programme across the country, and this week the country's Netball Development Officer has implemented the first activity of the year. Along with two scholarship winners, Beverley Ligo has travelled to the provinces of Santo, Ambae and Malekula to implement a series of training programmes, encompassing coaching, umpiring, management and bench official duties.

Netball Fiji has received a timely boost for its preparations for this summer's Mission Foods World Netball Championships, with an award of $F3,000 (approx $US1,600) from the country's Social Welfare Ministry. Having completed a successful training tour in Australia, Fiji's netballers hope to tour both New Zealand and Papua New Guinea ahead of the July competition.

Netball Australia confirmed this week that Diamonds captain Sharelle McMahon will not be available for the World Championships in July. McMahon, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the ANZ Championship last week, has undergone surgery and is now recuperating at home while she considers whether to attempt a comeback at international level when her recovery is complete.

October will see four of the world's top seven teams taking part in two international matches to be held in Perth, Australia, in the week leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It was announced this week that world number six, South Africa, will face world number seven, Malawi, as a curtain-raiser to the planned Australia v New Zealand trans-Tasman clash, which will form part of the Constellation Cup challenge for 2011.

Irene Van Dyk, the world's most capped netballer, made her 100th appearance for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic franchise this week. But the shooter's celebrations were cut short as her team failed to overcome ANZ Championship leaders the Queensland Firebirds, with the Australia side running out 53-49 winners over the league's second placed side. At the other end of the table, the Central Pulse recorded multiple wins for the first time in the competition, after pulling out a gritty 63-61 extra time win over the West Coast Fever. More than 5,000 supporters attended the Northern Mystics / Canterbury Tactix game in Auckland, which was played as a fundraiser to help rebuild the Canterbury Netball headquarters damaged in February's earthquake. However, the Mystics were not so charitable on court, taking the game 58-45 to move level on points with the Magic.

Finally, IFNA President, Molly Rhone, together with Vice President, Kereyn Smith and CEO, Urvasi Naidoo, this week attended the SportAccord in London, to represent the interests of netball. The SportAccord Convention is a 6-day gathering of 1500 leading representatives from international sport. The annual convention is held in a different country each year and encompasses the Congress and General Assemblies of over 100 International Sports Federations (IFs) and their related Associations.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Netball around the World

The Australian Diamonds' preparations to defend their World Championship crown in Singapore suffered a serious set back this week, after inspirational captain Sharelle McMahon suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon in the ANZ Championships. McMahon, 34, who currently holds 118 international caps, was carried from the court with three minutes to play in the Melbourne Vixens match against the Queensland Firebirds and is set for scans and possible surgery today (Friday).
Picture shows Sharelle McMahon in action, winning her 100th international cap for Australia against New Zealand.

In the ANZ Championship, the Queensland Firebirds maintained their undefeated record for the 2011 season, defeating the Vixens 52-42. The First Windows Waikato/BOP Magic cemented their second position in the table with a thrilling 42-41 victory against the West Coast Fever. Meanwhile, the Canterbury Tactix overcame the emotion of returning to their Christchurch home court for the first time since February's earthquake to score a gritty 49-44 win against the Southern Steel.

Christchurch netballers were given a boost this week by a fundraising initiative organised jointly by ANZA and Netball Singapore. More than 260 children aged 6-13 attended the event, which included coaching and a demonstration match by players currently participating in the country's Netball Superleague. More than S$2,200 was collected to be donated to Netball Christchurch for their rebuilding programme.

In the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague, Northern Thunder lost for the first time this season, going down 50-46 to former champions Hertfordshire Mavericks. Meanwhile, reigning champions TeamBath lost 50-52 to a spirited Loughborough Lightning performance, which leaves the West Country side in fourth place in the league, behind Mavericks, Thunder and Surrey Storm – 61-46 victors against Leeds Carnegie.

Singapore's national squad will travel to Botswana in April for a week-long series of matches against some of Africa's best sides. In addition to the home nation, Singapore will face South Africa and Malawi, while the visit will enable coach Kate Carpenter to finalise her selections for the World Championships.

Jamaica's Sunshine Girls took the third match of their series against Trinidad and Tobago 52-26 to complete a 3-0 victory over their neighbours. Jamaican selectors are now expected to review performances across the series before naming the country's World Championships squad this weekend.

Netball continues to grow in popularity in Sri Lanka, and this week saw the conclusion of the country's International Schools Netball Competition. Gateway College emerged victorious in the O15 section, defeating Asian International School 19-8 in the final.