Friday, 27 May 2011

Netball around the world - Weekly Round Up

Some of Swaziland's leading umpires have been put through their paces in an intensive four day training course, headed by England umpire, Heather Gleadall. Pictured at the opening ceremony with the head of the Swaziland Sports Council is IFNA's Africa Regional Development Manager, Joan Smit and Gleadall. The umpires received technical coaching as well as practical assessment during matches between local schools and clubs and will now be taking their new found expertise back to their own regions in an effort to boost umpiring standards across the country.

The Queensland Firebirds defeated New Zealand's Northern Mystics 57-44 in the ANZ Championships Grand Final to become the first side to go undefeated throughout the competition's entire season. High intensity defensive work by the Firebirds' Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman stifled the Mystics' possession opportunities throughout the game, and with Jamaican-born Romelda Aiken, the game's most valuable player, and Australian international Natalie Medhurst in devastating attacking form, the Firebirds cruised to their first championship victory.

Six of the ANZ Championship winning team have been rewarded with a place in the Australian Diamonds squad for 2011-2 and have now gone into camp at the AIS in Canberra for a two day selection weekend at which the reigning World Champions will select their line up to defend their title in Singapore later this year. Six uncapped players have been included in the 23 player squad, while former Jamaican international Carla Borrego is one of three players named as training partners for the squad during the selection weekend, while she awaits news of her application to become an Australian citizen.

Botswana's netball squad goes into camp this weekend as the side begins its World Championship play offs in earnest. Following the three day training camp, it is hoped to stage a four week intensive programme for the squad, as well as staging a friendly international against Malawi in the run up to the Singapore competition. Meanwhile, Malawi's preparations have been boosted by the announcement of an 18 million MKW (approx $120,000US) funding package from the country's government to finance the team's World Championships programme.

Welsh Netball hosted its annual Veterans tournament this week, with Risca Netball Club taking the title ahead of Flava Netball Club from Manchester. Congratulations to them, and to Catherine Lewis, who has been elected Chair of the Welsh Netball Association's board. And in a novel fundraising initiative, players from the Welsh National squad this week completed a 55 mile cycle ride from Cardiff to Brecon as part of the initiative to cycle the full 6969 miles between Cardiff and Singapore. Further details of their fundraising exploits can be found here:

Photograph shows participants in the recent Swaziland umpiring course, lead by Heather Gleadall.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Netball around the world - Weekly Round Up

Fiji's selectors have named three new caps in the country's squad for the Pacific Series and the World Netball Championships in July. Elenoa Vatureba, Afa Rusivakula and Makelesi Mulevoro are included in the national squad for the first time, while Matila Waqanidrola will captain the team. Seruwaia Vonolagi has been named vice captain. The remainder of the squad comprises Luse Kotobalavu, Maria Lutua, Teimumu Moce, Simione Nalatu, Mere Rabuka and Vaiti Waqatabu.

South Africa's Proteas overcame a seven goal defecit to take the final test against Trinidad and Tobago 55-47 and take the series between the two teams 3-0. The introduction of Gauteng North goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit at the start of the third quarter provided the impetus which inspired the home team to make three quick interceptions from the whistle, which were converted with ease and having drawn level, the Proteas were then able to move ahead thanks to some accurate shooting from Claudia Basson and Christina Anna Bootha. South Africa won the first test 57-38 and the second 60-52.

In Swaziland, more than 20 candidates are taking part in a four day umpiring course, run by England's Heather Gleadall. The National Netball Association of Swaziland has co-ordinated the course with the aim of improving the standard of officiating across the country and all the candidates will be assessed on the final day of the course in competitive situations.

Seven players have been shortlisted for the UK's Fiat Superleague player of the year. Grenada's Lottysha Cato, who has made a huge impact on the competition in her first year as part of the Celtic Dragons line up, has been included in the list, along with current holder of the title Pamela Cookey. Former England captain Olivia Murphy has been named, following an excellent season as player-coach for Loughborough Lightning. Other players in contention are Sara Bayman (Northern Thunder), Stacey Francis (TeamBath), Tamsin Greenway (Surrey Storm) and Layla Guscoth (Hertfordshire Mavericks). The winner will be named during the competition's Grand Final, to be played on 9 June.

LG Mystics defender Kayla Cullen has been named as the 2011 ANZ Championship Best Young Player award, in only her second season of competition at this level. Cullen, who was also named in the ANZ Championship All Star team, was unanimously selected by the expert panel of judges comprising national selectors and former internationals from Australia and New Zealand. Southern Steel's Leana de Bruin and Queensland Firebirds' Natalie Medhurst are the joint recipients of the championship's MVP award.

Cullen will be back in action for the LG Mystics this weekend, after they edged into their first ANZ Grand Final with the narrowest of wins, 43-42 over the First Windows Waikato/BOP Magic in the preliminary final last week. In the competition's first ever all-New Zealand play off fixture, Mystics put on a surge in the second quarter to put the result beyond doubt and despite a second half fight back from the Magic, the Auckland-based Mystics held on to move into their first Grand Final.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Netball around the world - Weekly Round Up

Jamaica took a 2-1 series victory over close rivals England in the Supreme Ventures Sunshine Series played in Kingston this week. After taking the first match 57-56, Jamaica put in a dogged performance to withstand a final quarter onslaught in test two to run out 55-53 winners with GS Jhanielle Fowler (pictured above) in outstanding form, netting 53 of her side's goals. However, England retained their number three world ranking by taking the final match of the series 54-51. Fowler is pictured in action during the final test match, taking the ball ahead of England's Beckford Chambers and Francis.

The three Jamaican coaches responsible for the Sunshine Girls during the series have now been interviewed for the position of head coach at this summer's World Championships. Connie Francis, Oberon Pitterson and Annette Daly have been quizzed by a selection panel which included JNA Chair Dorothy Hobson and former Australia coach Jill McIntosh and an announcement on the new head coach's appointment is expected shortly.

South Africa's Spar Proteas lifted the Tri-Nations trophy in Botswana this week, having gone through the competition against the home nation and Singapore undefeated. But South Africa coach Elize Kotze was quick to praise Botswana for their marked improvement since the two sides last met. The three teams taking part in the competition have been grouped together with Jamaica in the initial rounds of the World Championships, and were using the championships to gauge how their preparations were progressing. South Africa now return home where they will face Trindad and Tobago in a test series which starts next week.

Pakistan's ANC National Junior U17 championships concluded last weekend, with Karachi defeating Hyderabad 25-18, inspired by a dominant shooting performance by Umama Qadri. Third place was taken by Sargodha, who beat Lahore 12-7. The competition, organised in collaboration with the Australian Sports Commission, featured eight teams from across the country including a side from the Hamza Special Childrens' Foundation in Lahore.

Australian side the Queensland Firebirds completed their ANZ Championship season undefeated with a 69-52 win over the Canterbury Tactix to seal the minor premiership. The Firebirds now move into their first play off series, where they will face last season's Championship runners up, the Waikato/BOP Magic in the major semi final. In the final round of league competition, the Magic were in dominant form to defeat the Haier Central Pulse 60-50 to take second place on the ladder.

The minor semi final will feature the LG Mystics, another side making its debut in the play offs and the Sydney Swifts. In the final round of matches, the LG Mystics were too strong for the Southern Steel, emerging 47-35 victors, while the Swifts stole the final play off spot from the Melbourne Phoenix, with a 45-33 win.

Anna Thompson has been named as the final player in New Zealand's World Championships squad for the Singapore competition. Thompson, who made her international senior debut in 2009 and has four international caps so far, starred in the New Zealand team which won last year's World Fastnet Championships and replaces Cathrine Latu, whose application to play for New Zealand was recently overturned by the Court for Arbitration in Sport.

Finally, the holders, National Insurance Corporation of Uganda, have successfully retained their East Africa clubs championships title, edging out JKT 50-42 in the final. The week long competition included three teams from Zanzibar as well as sides from across Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of the East African region. Congratulations to NIC.