Thursday, 28 July 2011

Netball around the world

New Zealand's inspirational captain Casey Williams has been ruled out of international competition for the rest of the year, due to an ongoing ankle injury which requires surgery. Williams, who played the 2006 Commonwealth Games final with a broken ankle, will undergo an operation in August to clean out her ankle joint and will miss the autumn internationals against England and Australia as a result. New Zealand will also be without experienced defender Joline Henry for the two Test series, as she has indicated she is taking time out of the game to plan her next steps. The full Silver Ferns squad for the 2011/12 internationals will be named on 1 August.

Optimism is growing in South Africa after the Proteas' encouraging fifth place at the Mission Foods World Championships, with Netball South Africa calling on the country's Sports Minister, Fikile Mbulala, to make good on his pre-competition promise to ensure the promotion and development of netball has a priority from his department in the coming months. The first opportunity that the South African government has to reinforce its support for the game will come at the Spar National Netball championships, which are to be held at the Belville Velodrome in the Western Cape from 7-13 August. 42 teams will take part in the competition, including defending national champions Gauteng North and last season's runners up Free State Motheo.

Across Africa, BDF Cats were in impressive form in the first round of Botswana's Spar “Good for You” Netball League, crushing Notwane 59-19. Young shooter Tumisang Bagidi was in sparkling form as the Cats side cruised to the top of the table after the opening games of the season.

In Israel, netball participation continues to grow, with three schools sending six teams to compete in the Maccabi Primary School Tournament in Tel Aviv this week. The year 5 and 6 competition was won by Clore Shalom's year 5 pupils in a competition which has allowed hundreds of young Jewish sportswomen the chance to play netball this season, many for the first time.

Another shooter, Nina Scirikisuva, was the inspiration as Veiyasana Red lifted Fiji's New World Suva Netball Association Superleague title this week. Scirikisuva top scored as Red defeated CDM, with its international-packed line up, 30-24 at Fiji's National Netball Centre to take the title for 2011. Meanwhile, in Fiji's Suva Southern Secondary School Championships, there will be a new name on the national U19 trophy this season, after title holders Adi Cakabaou School lost 14-15 to Rata Sakuna Memorial School (RSM) in the semi final. RSM will face Dudley High School in the Grand Final on 5 August.

Malawi Goal Shooter, Mwayi Kumwende, has concluded her season as her country's first overseas player in the Australian Netball League, winning the “Best and Fairest” award at her club Peninsula Waves' awards ceremony this week. Kumwende, who is currently the subject of media speculation as to whether an ANZ Championship side will name her in their line up for the coming season, has been an overwhelming success for the Waves during 2011 and the club is hopeful of recalling her for their 2012 competitive campaign.

Finally, Australian netball great, Sharelle McMahon, has a new challenge while she recovers from Achilles tendon surgery, after being invited to join Twenty/20 cricket side the Melbourne Stars as a board member.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Netball around the World

Netball has not been selected as a candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games but IFNA is still hopeful of inclusion in the long term future. Eight sports – baseball, karate, rollersports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu – have been shortlisted for consideration. Despite this disappointment, Urvasi Naidoo, IFNA's Chief Executive Officer, remains positive about the game's prospects: “We are encouraged that netball made the long list (for consideration)”, she said, “..and will continue to work with International Olympic Committee (IOC). We will continue to work harder over the next five years to achieve our goal of seeing netball at the Olympics in the future.”

Molly Rhone IFNA President explained "We are in contact with the IOC every year, we're a recognised sport and what we're trying to do is get into more multi-sports events. When you take part in these multi-sports events then more people see your sport. One of the five pillars of our new strategic plan is having world class events, and that doesn't necessarily mean World Championships, that means at a national level, at a regional level so anywhere you see netball it is done in a very professional way."

With many internationals now entering a rest period after the World Netball Championships, attention in many areas now turns to age group competitions. In the New Zealand Netball age group championships, Otago held their nerve to edge past Canterbury 60-59 in a thrilling U21 final. Southern Steel shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickett provided a strong target for the Otago attack which, encouraged by her accuracy, clung on to the narrowest of leads to take the title. The U19 title went to Auckland-Waitakere for the third year in succession, defeating Wellington 29-24 in the final.

The best of Australia's future talent has been on show this week at the Australian 21 and Under National Championships. New South Wales (pictured) claimed its fourth consecutive title with an impressive 48-35 win against arch rivals Victoria in the Grand Final. Inspired by strong defensive work by April Letton – named player of the tournament for the second year in a row – Abbey McCullough and Paige Hadley, New South Wales led at every break and powered on to take the title. Queensland's young stars failed to add the national title to the ANZ Championships crown won by the Queensland Firebirds, and ended the competition in fourth place, after losing in the play offs to South Australia 52-46.

In Fiji, the return of national represenatives Vaiti Waqatabu, Teimumu Moce and Alesi Waqa inspired ACSOG to overcome the previously undefeated Southern Police 30-18 in the latest round of the country's Gold Nasinu Netball Association league this week. Teams for the National Inter-District Championships will be announced at the conclusion of the competition.

Netball Australia has announced the country's first ever NetFest, to take place on the country's Gold Coast from 8-11 September 2011. The festival is expected to feature more than 1,000 players of all standards from across the country, and overseas: for more information, please visit

Tharjini Sivalingam, Asia's tallest netballer at 6'10”, received an award of 500,000 LKR (approx $4,000US) from Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa this week. Sivalingam, whose accuracy helped Sri Lanka achieve 14th place at the recent Netball World Championships, received the grant at a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the Kilinochchi Sports Complex – the first world-class sporting complex to be built in the north of the country at a cost of 325mill LKR (approx $3 million US). The complex will include facilities for up to 25 sports and, it is hoped, will provide access for widows and children of those killed in Sri Lanka's terrorist conflicts to rebuild their lives through sport.

In the UK, the organisers of the Fiat Netball Superleague have received applications from ten francises to take part in the 2012-15 seasons. Hertfordshire Mavericks, Surrey Storm, TeamBath, Northern Thunder, Celtic Dragons, Loughborough Lightning, Yorkshire Jets, Team Northumbria, Glasgow Wildcats and a Birmingham-based franchise will now have their applications examined by the league's six-member assessment panel, against criteria including performance, management, community, commercial and vision. The eight franchises which match these criteria most closely will be invited to form the league – a decision is expected in the first week of August.

Finally, IFNA is delighted to welcome five new Member countries this month. Tonga, Austria, Brunei, Nepal and Ethiopia are now Associate Members of the federation and will be working closely with IFNA's support teams to develop and expand the reach of the game across their countries.

Monday, 18 July 2011

World Netball Champions - Australia

Australia are the 2011 Mission Foods Netball World Champions, after defeating world number 1 New Zealand 58-57 in a dramatic extra time victory in Singapore. The Silver Ferns settled into their stride early on, pulling out to a six goal lead by half time. But the introduction of Caitlin Bassett at GS and Laura Geitz at GK re-energised the reigning world champions and they levelled the scores 46-all at the end of regular time. There was nothing to choose between the two at the end of the first period of extra time (52-all) and, as the tension levels rosem Maria Tutaia, the Kiwi heroine of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, had a long-range shot to take the game for New Zealand with only ten seconds remaining. However, the Indian fairytale was not to be repeated: Geitz snapped up the rebound and the Diamonds moved the ball at pace to Bassett, who netted a simple goal under the post as the final whistle blew.

England took the bronze medal for the first time since 1999, breezing past Jamaica 70-49. Shooter Jo Harten did much of the damage for the English side, netting 51 of her side's goals, and had further cause for celebration this week when it was announced that she has been selected in the Canterbury Tactix squad for the 2012 ANZ Championships – her first appearance in this competition.

Sue Hawkins, England's coach since the 2007 World Championships, has announced her resignation this week. Hawkins, the former coach of Auckland Diamonds, has decided to return home to be closer to her family, and is currently examing job opportunities back in Australia.

Congratulations to South Africa's Erin Burger, who was named the player of the tournament, topping the “player of the match” awards voting. Her side ended the tournament in fifth place, after defeating Malawi 52-50 to reclaim the Protea's position as the best side in Africa.

Northern Ireland, the surprise package of the competition, finished in the top eight for the first time, and is now looking to continue that improvement by advertising for a full time coach for the first time in Netball Northern Ireland's history. Interested applicants should email for more information.

The immediate aftermath of Australia's back to back World Championships wins has been a huge surge in ticket sales for the autumn international between the Diamonds and the Silver Ferns. 5,000 tickets for the international between the two sides to be played in Perth sold out in under a day, and tickets for the games in Adelaide and Melbourne, as well as for the matches against England in Newcastle, Canberra and Sydney are also selling extremely fast.

In other news, the Tanzania Netball League is now under way, with Jeshi Stars setting the pace at the top of the table. The Tanzanian squad to contest the All Africa Games in September will be named at the end of the league competition with the Taifa Queens then starting a two week long residential training camp as part of their preparations for the Games.

Friday, 8 July 2011


Northern Ireland's squad has been the talk of the Mission Foods World Netball Championships in Singapore thus far, after the side qualified for the quarter finals for the first time in the country's history. The world number 12 side secured their spot in the last eight with a surprise 66-37 over ninth seeds Samoa in pool play. However, world number three England proved too strong for the Northern Irish squad, registering an impressive 87-16 victory to cruise into the semi finals.

Commonwealth champions, New Zealand, withstood a spirited first quarter by South Africa to take a 58-28 win and move forwards to face England in the semi finals. Australia will play Malawi and Jamaica will play Trinidad and Tobago in the other semi finals.

The New Zealand / South Africa match also saw another milestone for coach Ruth Aitken, when she became New Zealand (and the world's) most capped netball coach. Aitken took the record from Kiwi coaching legend, Lois Muir, who actually coached Aitken in the New Zealand team which took the title at the World Netball Championships in 1973.

Away from the world championships, St Kitts are the ECCB OECS U21 champions: having registered an impressive goal difference and undefeated record going into the final day's competition, St Kitts ensured that they took the title with a thrilling 40-all draw with reigning champions Grenada, who ended the tournament in third place overall. St Vincent and the Grenadines finished in the runner's up position.

Singapore defeated Malaysia 47-38 in the final of the third ASEAN Schools Games competition, having led 25-16 at half time. Having lost to Malaysia 31-34 in the group stage of the competition, Singapore's youngsters were determined to reverse that result in the final, and thanks to an impressive all court defence, inspired by GK Grace Seow, led 17-6 at the end of the first period. Malaysia mounted a determined fight back, but Singapore's focus and structure withstood the challenge to hold on and take the title.

Finally, many congratulations to Brenda Prince from Trinidad and Tobago who has been awarded IFNA's highest honour, the IFNA Service Award, for her years of work in developing netball across the Caribbean.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Mission Foods World Netball Championships 2011

Really hotting up with Quarter Finals today, Semi Finals Tomorrow and Finals on Sunday. If you are in Singapore tickets still available.

If you are following around the world, up to date scores on WNC2011 website and their Facebook Page.