Monday, 15 August 2011

Netball around the world

Many congratulations to IFNA President Molly Rhone, who is to receive the Order of Jamaica, one of the country's highest honours, for services to netball. Former international player Molly, who is the only Jamaican to head an international sport's governing body, has led IFNA since 2003 and was previously chair of the Jamaican Netball Association.

Lisa Alexander has been named as the new head coach of the Australian Diamonds for the next two years, after incumbent Norma Plummer withdrew her application for reappointment after her side's successful World Championships defence in Singapore last month. Alexander, who was formerly Australian U21 coach and Adelaide Thunderbirds assistant coach, aims to continue Australia's international success by improving and extending the country's high performance programme. She will take charge of the squad immediately, with her first national squad camp taking place during the first weekend of September, ahead of autumn internationals against England and New Zealand.

Malawi's most celebrated and recognised international, Mary Waya, has announced she will be opening the Mary Waya Netball Academy from this weekend, to identify and develop future stars of the international game. Waya, who is currently her country's U21 squad coach and led her squad to the title at the African Zone XI championship title last December, will be working with players aged 7-15 to introduce and improve their basic skills and courtcraft.

Jamaican defensive star Althea Byfield has announced her retirement from the international game, following her country's disappointing performances in Singapore. Byfield, 28, was a member of Jamaica's silver medal winning team at the World Youth Championships in 2000, and won bronze medals at the world championships in 2003 and 2007. Former Jamaica captain Simone Forbers, who indicated that she would be retiring from the international game in May has also written to the Jamaica Netball Association to confirm her decision to withdraw from the Sunshine Girls.

Netball Fiji is shaking up its administration, advertising the roles of coach, manager and selectors for the country's international squads for the coming years. Incumbent coaches Gabriel Qoro and Una Rokoura are eligible for reapointment: their current contracts concluded with at the completion of the World Championships in Singapore.

South Africa's Proteas have withdrawn from the All Africa Championships to be held in Mozambique next month. With players still recovering from injuries sustained during the country's World Championships campaign or unavailable due to work or study commitments, Netball South Africa has acknowledged that the timing will not permit adequate preparation or recovery times for its international squad. The Proteas will now focus on their next international match, to be held in Perth, Australia, in October, against Malawi.

In domestic competitions, England Netball has confirmed the eight franchises to take part in the 2012 Fiat Netball Superleague. Champions Hertfordshire Mavericks and former title holders TeamBath will be joined by Surrey Storm, Northern Thunder, Team Northumbria, Loughborough Lightning, new side Yorkshire Jets and Celtic Dragons in the league, which has been trimmed from nine squads to eight for the new season. Meanwhile, former England coach Mary Beardwood has confirmed that she is stepping down from her role as head coach of Surrey Storm after two seasons in charge. She will become the franchise's first honorary Vice President in recognition of her contribution to the development of Surrey Storm in its first two years of existence.

Gauteng North is on track to defend South Africa's Spar National Netball Championships title after dismissing Western Province 60-29 and Griqualand West 61-27 in their pool matches this week. Free State Motheo are also unbeaten ahead of this weekend's play off matches, with the final due to be played on Sunday.

As franchises in the ANZ Championships continue to finalise their line ups, Central Pulse have added another international star to their line up for the 2012 season with the signing of Silver Fern Joline Henry. She will join a much-strengthened Pulse side for the new season, which will also boast New Zealand stars Camilla Lees, Katrina Grant, Paula Griffin and Australian sharpshooter Caitlin Thwaites. However, two Silver Ferns will be missing from next year's competition with Daneka Wipiiti taking time out to play basketball and Leana Leota likely to move to the UK with her husband, who has been signed to play rugby with club side Sale.

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