England’s new look, young squad has arrived in New Zealand ahead of next week’s internationals against the Silver Ferns. Northern Thunder defender Emma Dovey has been included in the squad in place of Sonia Mkoloma, who is resting after a heavy international and ANZ Championships workload during the past few seasons. The first Test match takes place on Monday, with the second to be played in Auckland on Thursday.
Dovey in action playing for Northern Thunder.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, squads are starting the build up to the 2012 Fiat Netball Superleague. Reigning champions Mavericks have announced that former international captain Karen Atkinson, who retired from playing after the World Championships in Singapore, is to take over as head coach of reigning champions Mavericks. On the player front, last season’s Grand Finalists Surrey Storm have secured one of the league’s top names for the new season, with the announcement that Pamela Cookey is to join the Guildford-based franchise.
The Malawian government has released K5 million (approx $30,000US) to fund the Queens upcoming trip to Australia. With the Malawi national side rebuilding after the retirements of stalwart internationals Mary Waya, Peace Chawinga, Esther Nkhoma and Sylvia Malenga, the Test match to be played between the Queens and arch rivals South Africa is a warm up to the Australia/New Zealand Test match in Perth later this month and will give the team’s management a chance to assess the side’s potential for the coming four year international cycle. The Queens will also play Australia’s U21 side in practice matches as the young Diamonds team starts its build up to the defence of its World Youth Netball Championships title in 2013.
Meanwhile, across Africa, the All Namibia Netball Association (ANNA) is seeking sponsorships to allow its national side to play a series of friendly internationals in the build up to the Six Nations Championships in Singapore, from 6-11 December. World number 24 Namibia is set to be the lowest ranked nation taking part in Singapore, alongside Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore. With training camps planned for the coming weeks, the Namibian national squad will face Botswana and, it is hoped, Malawi in international matches ahead of the Singapore competition: ANNA’s final squad for the Six Nations Championships will be named in October.
In New Zealand, Canterbury secured back to back Lion National Netball Championships titles when they defeated Otago 63-59 in an all-South Island grand final to the 2011 competition. Ellen Halpenny was the stand out shooter for the champions, netting 45 goals from 50 attempts in a clinical and impressive all court team performance.
Congratulations to Vanuatu Netball Association delegates Eileen Nganga and Aileen Huri who were part of the Vanuatu South Pacific Games team leadership group. Despite netball not being included in this year’s competition, the pair were included thanks to their excellent administrative and leadership skills.
St Lucia Netball Association launched its Super J Vintage Netball League last weekend with a parade of participating teams in front of the island’s Governor General, patron of the Association. The league will feature six teams of players aged 40 and over, and will be played at venues across the island until the end of October.
USA Netball is now able to call on a true sporting great as it continues to increase awareness of the game across America. Former men’s World figure skating champion, six time USA men’s champion and double Olympian Todd Eldredge has turned his hand to netball coaching, and has taken up a position coaching in South West Florida. USA Netball will be utilising his expertise to mentor its emerging national squad players in developing the mental strength and skills needed to succeed at the top of the sport.
Finally, netball emerged as one of the most fashionable sports around this week, with news that it inspired a catwalk collection shown at Milan Fashion Week! English designer Christopher Kane took the game as his starting point for his designs for the Versus range, which was shown on a catwalk laid out as a netball court. Netball skirts, in particular, were used as a basis for many designs, which have been universally acclaimed by the world’s fashion press. Perhaps it will not be too long before Kane links with a sportswear company to create a high end netball clothing range, as Stella McCartney has done so successfully with Adidas and tennis wear. As one fashion journalist commented, in terms of Kane’s and Versace’s collection, “They shoot! They scored!”.