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 www.netfest.com.au
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.