Friday, 19 August 2011

Netball around the world

Ruth Aitken, the world's most capped netball coach, is stepping down as head coach of New Zealand's Silver Ferns in October, and will take up a new role as Coaching Director for Netball New Zealand. Aitken, who took over as Silver Ferns coach in 2001, led New Zealand to its first World Championship title in 16 years in 2003, as well as back to back Commonwealth titles in 2006 and 2010. She will step down from the role after New Zealand's autumn internationals against Australia and England and her replacement will be named in November.

Colette Thomson has been named as coach of England's U21 squad for the 2013 World Youth Championships, and will also be taking charge of the England open squad's autumn tour of Australia and New Zealand. Former international Thomson, who led England to silver at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Florida, will take over the U21 role full time in January. She is currently leading England's Xcel squad's tour of Jamaica, during which the England and Jamaica U19 squads will play three test matches as preparations for the 2013 World Youth Championships get under way for both nations.

The Namibian Netball Association has confirmed that the country is seeking friendly international matches against African neighbours Malawi and Botswana ahead of the Six Nations Cup, which is to take place in Singapore in December.

Gauteng North retained the South African SPAR National Championships title, defeating Free State Motheo 37-31 in an entertaining final. Erkulehni finished the competition in third place, defeating Nelson Mandela Bay 56-44 in the bronze medal play off. Gauteng North also took the U19 and U21 titles at the championships.

More player moves have been confirmed this week as the ANZ Championships sides continue to work on finalising their line ups ahead of the October deadline to name their teams. Australian vice captain Catherine Cox is the latest big name player to switch franchises, moving to the West Coast Fever from the NSW Swifts this week on a two year contract, where she will be joined by promising young English defender Eboni Beckford Chambers. Former Australian U21 star Courtney Tairi is to move to New Zealand's Southern Steel, but after speculation that she would join New Zealand's most southerly team, Australian international Mo'onia Gerrard has confirmed that she will stay with the NSW Swifts for another season.

Finally, congratulations to Pakistan's Shining Star Netball Club, which won the country's Independence Day Netball Championships, defeating Ever Green 27-22 in the final of the competition which was organised by the Punjab Netball Association. To coincide with the tournament, the Punjab Netball Association arranged a series of training sessions at which more than 100 players from Gujranwala, Sialkot, Hafizabad and Shiekhupura learned basic skills and fitness drills, many as first time netballers.

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