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.

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