The six competing teams are putting final touches to their preparations ahead of today's first games in the 2011 World Netball Series in Liverpool. World Champions Australia will be first on court against Jamaica, while home favourites England face competition debutantes Fiji in the second game of the day. New Zealand will be looking to take a third consecutive titles at this year's competition and open their challenge for the silverware against South Africa. Shooter Maria Tutaia has been photographed practising her “long shots” in training this week
For more information and to book tickets please visit www.worldnetballseries.com.
Fiji's preparations for the World Netball Series have not gone as smoothly as anticipated, after the world number 7 ranked side lost a warm up game to Scotland, ranked 14, 50- 23 earlier this week. The Thistles, who are preparing for a hotly anticipated home test series against close rivals Wales (ranked 12) in early December, were in scintillating form from the first whistle while the visitors found it hard to adjust to the colder conditions and playing style of the home team.
Elsewhere across the world, teams are also putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the Fair Price Foundation Nations Cup, which takes place in Singapore at the start of December. Without much international experience in recent years, world number 24 side Namibia has been training hard and aims to improve its ranking to 21 by the end of the tournament. Meanwhile, hosts Singapore have named a side packed with young talent from its U21 squad, which will be led by seasoned veteran Jean Ng (pictured centre) and will be using the competition as preparation for next year's Asian Cup, as well as avenging their loss to Fiji in July this year. The Nations Cup will be played from 5-11 December.
Netball New Zealand is considering a radical restructure for its domestic game to address concerns that money is being lost in overcomplicated administrative structures. The suggested plan would move from the current 12 region set-up to a five zone model, each aligned with an ANZ Championship franchise and with responsibility for grass roots competition, player development pathways and high performance delivery. Members will vote on the proposals at an Annual General Meeting in February, with a two thirds majority required for the changes to be adopted.
Former Australia coach Marg Caldow received the first Spirit of Netball Award at last weekend's Australian Netball Awards ceremony in recognition of her efforts in coaching the Diamonds to back to back World Championships titles. The honour recognises extraordinary achievements and sporting performances that have captured the hearts of Australian netballers, fans, and the general public, and form part of netball’s sporting history. Other award winners at the glittering ceremony included international defender Laura Geitz, who was named the recipient of the prestigious Liz Ellis Diamond award, Australian netball's top individual honour, and Sharon Kelly who was once again named umpire of the year. Two former Australian captains, Liz Ellis and Julie Francou, were inducted into Australian Netball's Hall of Fame during the ceremony. For the full list of winners, please visit www.netball.asn.au.