Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Netball Takes Off in Ethiopia

Earlier this month, Denise May MBE, Director of Sport and Assistant Head teacher from Budehaven Community School, Cornwall, UK, and Jean Davies, Regional Coach, England Netball Selector and Head of Truro Netball Academy, travelled to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, to work with 30 coaches and teachers selected by the Ethiopian government to be part of the country’s netball project.

The coaching also extended to several schools, where the British visitors were excited by the raw talent and enthusiasm shown by the girls, who train on a crowded court surrounded by several hundred other students looking on. Denise May was impressed by the Ethiopians’ commitment to netball and said: “The coaches were very positive and proactive, working hard throughout the three days, showing a real passion, enthusiasm and understanding for the game, including coaching skills and officiating. They looked in detail at the various progressive stages of session planning; how to break down individual skills and transfer these into game situations. Officiating was a valuable and essential part of the training and the coaches were keen to understand the intricacies of scoring and the speed required to keep up with play.”

The event received a lot of publicity, and government officials attending the closing ceremony were extremely impressed by the positive effect netball is having on young women. The link between netballers in Britain’s south-west and Ethiopia started with a Youth Sport Trust Dreams and Teams initiative in 2007, which linked Budehaven Community School with Assossa High School. From this modest start, netball is now becoming established in Ethiopia as a national sport, as Denise May explains:
“Netball was introduced as a new sport which would have particular impact on the young women of the town, being a focus to enrich their challenging lives. There were two facets: one was enhancing literacy skills, developing cultural and global learning, staff development and whole school impact; the second was enhancing leadership skills, impacting on community cohesion and creating new opportunities for females in a deprived country. With our backing, the then PE teacher at Assossa High School, Mr Mulatu Desalegn Afrasha, made it his vocation to develop the game in the town, with his long-term goal being to see netball played as a National sport in Ethiopia.”
Support from St Austell Netball Club and South West Netball in the UK brought additional resources, in the form of netballs, playing kit, bibs and DVDs, which enabled Mulatu to start to develop the game further, and he also had an opportunity to spend time in the UK to access high quality netball coach training. He then took on a new role, working for the Zone Federation of Sport, with responsibility for sports development in his region, and he has already introduced to 15 schools.

More exciting news is that the new sports stadium in Addis Ababa, built for Ethiopia’s national athletes and local clubs and players from the regions, will have a netball court marked on the floor – and one of the female coaches trained in Assossa last year has been employed to oversee the development of netball at the centre. With enthusiastic and imaginative support from netballers in the UK, the sport is really taking hold in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is now working to train a representative side to experience playing netball in England, and the long-term goal is to further develop the Ethiopian Netball Association and build up a national team.

Can you help?
If anyone is interested in financially supporting this exciting development in sport, please contact Denise May at dm@budehaven.cornwall.sch.uk . There will be more on this story in the next issue of Netball World magazine.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Netball Around the World

Elize Kotze, (pictured) has been confirmed as national coach for South Africa until after the country's scheduled tour of Jamaica in June. Kotze, who was a member of a national coaching panel appointed early last year, was South Africa's head coach for the World Championships last July and, as a player, was a member of the South African team which won the silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995.

In other coaching news this week, USA Netball Association (USANA) has announced the appointment of Matthias Wilkie as the country's national coach. Mr Wilkie, who has a wealth of experience in netball and sports in general, will head a team of coaches in the mid-west, north east and south east of the country which will work directly with national squad players in those regions. They will be preparing the country's national side that will participate in the Americas Federation of Netball Associations Regional Championships in Trinidad & Tobago in July, as well as the International Fast Net Tournament which is scheduled for October in Jamaica.

Netball Australia has announced it is developing a strategic and operational plan to help Malaysian netball players take part in international competition. This is part of Australia's focus on creating an international legacy within Asia and the South Pacific following the Sydney World Championships in 2015; Malaysia is currently ranked 24th in the world. Netball Australia's Head of Sport Development and Performance Anne Marie Phippard and Participation Manager Stacey O'Neill spent a week in Kuala Lumpur recently, training 30 coaches from across Malaysia. During the workshop, the Malaysian coaches were introduced to a new programme – JomPi Jaring, based on Netball Australia's junior NetSetGo! Programme and a pilot scheme is set to be rolled out in 14 centres across Malaysia for girls aged 5-6. Netball Australia also provided modified equipment to assist in young player development.

Invercargill, in New Zealand's South Island, has been stripped of its Silver Ferns' hosting rights, but it is hoped the national team will be back in the city next year. Netball New Zealand announced this week that the quad series international double-header, which was to be played in the city on October 28, has been transferred to Tauranga's new state-of-the-art stadium, because the new Stadium Southland will not be ready in time. The Invercargill facility was damaged by heavy snow last winter, which caused severe structural damage to the building.

In Bermuda, Young Men's Social Club Lady Bluebirds completed an impressive clean-sweep of the island's competitions for 2012 by lifting the Bermuda Netball Association Knock Out Cup title last weekend. In the final, the Lady Bluebirds defeated North Village Lady Rams 44-24 to finish the season without a single defeat in the national cup, winter league and Sylvia Easterly Trophy competitions.

England's young side completed a 3-0 series win over visitors Barbados with a 73-32 victory in the third test between the two countries, played last weekend. After a disappointing display in the second test, which saw England edge the win by only five goals, the home side was in determined mood from the first whistle and player of the match Naida Hutchinson, returning to the international stage after a long break due to injury, was recognised for an impressive defensive display.

Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics are the only undefeated teams in the ANZ Championships after three round of matches, beating the Adelaide Thunderbirds 48-34 and West Coast Fever 52-45 respectively last weekend. However, the sorry start to the season continued for highly rated Waikato/BOP Magic, still without a win after losing 47-49 to the NSW Swifts to leave the New Zealand side at the bottom of the league table. Reigning champions Queensland Firebirds got their 2012 campaign back on track with a 58-32 victory over the Central Pulse, while the Southern Steel narrowly edged past the Canterbury Tactix 55-53 in an all-New Zealand clash.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


IFNA has been shortlisted for a prestigious SportAccord Spirit of Sport Award. The world governing body of netball was nominated for Netball Safaris, which have introduced netball to thousands of new players in Africa, boosting interest in women’s sport and giving girls the opportunity to play.

SportAccord is the umbrella organisation for world sports governing bodies. The Awards will be presented during the Annual Convention to be held in Quebec City, Canada, from May 20-25, and salute organisations and individuals described as ‘making an exceptional and lasting contribution to using sport as a tool for social change’.

Netball Safaris encourage talented young players and coaches from countries such as the UK to share their skills with netballers in Africa, and they are coupled with sustainable programmes that ensure netball carries on after the safari has left. Linking the safaris with local partner organisations also provides the opportunity to promote women’s health and other important community initiatives.

IFNA President, The Honourable Molly Rhone, OJ, CD said of the nomination: “This is a great honour and a well-deserved recognition of everyone who has worked so hard to make Netball Safaris the success that they are. Promoting and improving netball coaching in Africa generates interest and support for women’s sport in a continent with a wealth of untapped talent. The excitement and enthusiasm on both sides is wonderful. It is a great scheme, and I am delighted that we have been shortlisted.”

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Netball around the world

England's young side struggled against a spirited challenge from Barbados in the second Test between the two countries, before taking a 53-48 victory that established a 2-0 win in the series. England took the first Test 72-41. With many of England's established line up away on duty in the ANZ Championships, head coach Anna Mayes has taken the opportunity to give a number of new players exposure at international level, with Laura Malcolm and Kerry Almond winning their first caps during the opening test. The third match of the series takes place on Saturday.

England's netballers have a new commercial supporter too this week, with news that Maxitone, the lifestyle nutrition brand designed specifically for women, will provide the national team with tailored nutritional support to complement their training and match schedule. Information and promotions will also be targeted to the game at all levels across England. Members of the England national squad are pictured at the announcement of the partnership earlier this week.

There will be a new face at the helm of Cayman Islands netball in the coming months with the news that Australian, Gillian Lee, has been appointed as head of netball for the country. The Victoria Netball League championship division premiership-winning coach, who has been in working as head coach at Monash University Central for the past ten years, will take up her new post very shortly. The Cayman Islands offer was tailored-made for her and will involve coaching the national team as well as setting up grassroots netball in the islands, including developing a coaching programme.

Netball Samoa is also set for a coaching change, with the appointment of Marcia Hardcastle as the new head coach of the country's national team. Hardcastle, who takes over the role from Linda Vagana, is a former New Zealand U21 coach, and has a wealth of experience gained in New Zealand, including working as assistant coach to Yvonne Willering in the National Cup competition for four years, as well as coaching the Netball North provincial side in 2009 and 2011. Her daughter, Sonya Hardcastle, was named in the Silver Ferns in 1990.

In Jamaica, defending champions Jamalco scored in the final seconds of the game to draw 57-all with rivals Waulgrovians A in their Berger Paints/Jamaica Netball Association Superleague encounter this week. Waulgrovians international shooter, Jheniele Fowler, was in outstanding form, scoring 51 goals from 54 attempts and, despite the loss, her side remains at the top of the league table, ahead of Tivoli A and Jamalco. Meanwhile, Jamaica's U16 squad has arrived in the UK for a development tour during which they will face the England U17 side as well as U16 squads from the Birmingham area.

The USA Netball Association (USANA) has announced that, in partnership with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, the USA Netball National Championships will take place in Delray Beach on 23 and 24 June 2012. This is an invitational competition for national and international clubs, which will crown a national champion in several divisions, including 14 and under, 16 and under, 20 and under and open adult competition. USA Netball will also use the event to identify potential talent for the USA national team, ahead of the Americas Regional Championships in Trinidad and Tobago later this year, as well as the 2013 World Youth Championships in Glasgow.

After two rounds of competition, the 2012 ANZ Championship table has an unfamiliar look, with reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds, former champions the NSW Swifts and perennial finals contenders Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at the bottom of the pack, all without a win to their names. The Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics are tied at the top of the table with two wins from two games, while the second round of matches saw wins for last season's bottom side, the Canterbury Tactix, who overcame the NSW Swifts 54-51 and also for the Central Pulse, who took a gritty 47-42 win over coach Robin Broughton's former team, the Southern Steel. This weekend, the Thunderbirds take on the Vixens in a top of the table clash, while the Swifts and Bay of Plenty Magic face off in an encounter which many are describing as a “must win” game for both teams, if they are to make progress up the table.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Netball around the world

Malawi development coach and former international Mary Waya (pictured below in action in 2007 World Netball Championships) has signed a new one year deal that will keep her at Tanzanian team Filbert Bayi until 2013. Under the contract, Waya is expected to train the team, which is made up of school students, as well as co-ordinating netball seminars for secondary schools and other netball development teams across Dar es Salaam. Although working with the Filbert Bayi side for a few weeks, Waya's input has already seen results, with six of the club's players selected in the Tanzanian national long squad for 2012.

Blaze Dolphins were in scintillating form in Singapore's Fair Price Foundation Netball Superleague this week, seeing off Sneakers Stingrays 55-40. Meanwhile, Mission Mannas edged a tense and exciting fixture 43-41 against Nike Marlins and, despite their loss, Nike Marlins remain at the top of the table, ahead of Mission Mannas. The competition takes a break this weekend, but will resume on 14-15 April: the league's finals will be played on 28 April. For more information about the league, please visit; www.netball.org.sg.

In Australia and New Zealand, the 2012 ANZ Championship got off to a thrill-packed opening weekend: after the first round of matches, the new look West Coast Fever, coached by former Australian head coach Norma Plummer, top the table thanks to an impressive 55-35 win over the Canterbury Tactix. Given little chance of a win against their highly rated opponents, the Ascot Park Southern Steel got their 2012 campaign off to a flying start by defeating the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the competition's opening round this week, 49-47. An inspirational performance from former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins, who shot 33/35 despite only recently returning to action after the birth of her third child in January, lifted the Steel and allowed the team to overturn a six goal defecit in the final quarter to take a hard-earned win.

The biggest shock of the round came when reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds, who went through the 2011 competition undefeated, came unstuck against former champions the Melbourne Vixens, losing 47-42. Young shooter Karyn Howarth was in sensational form and netted 26 of her side's goals as the unfancied Vixens overturned many people's favourites for the 2012 title. In the weekend's other game, 2011 championship runners up, New Zealand's LG Mystics were pushed all the way by a revitalised Haier Central Pulse team before edging a 51-47 victory.

Meanwhile, in Tasmania, many future ANZ Championships players have been on display during the past week at the Australian U17 and U19 championships. New South Wales won its first U17 title for five years with a 38-28 victory over Victoria, while Victoria turned the tables on their rivals to take the U19 title with a 27-19 win over New South Wales. At the conclusion of the competition, Netball Australia's selectors named the country's U19 and U17 squads for 2http://www.netball.asn.au/newsitem.asp?id=32444&orgID=1012, where many will gain their first experience of the Australian national programme. To find out more, please visit www.netball.asn.au/newsitem.asp?id=32444&orgID=1

In the UK, Northern Thunder's youth side scooped the Netball Talent League title after completing an unbeaten season. However, in the Netball Superleague their senior counterparts were handed their first defeat of the season, going down 63-62 to Surrey Storm in the competition's top tier. Celtic Dragons maintained their push for a play off place by maintaining their undefeated record in the competition's bottom tier, beating Loughborough Lightning 57-37.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Netball around the world

56 of Pakistan's emerging umpires were put through their paces last week at the country's National Netball Umpiring Course 2012 in Karachi, organised by the Pakistan Netball Federation, National Umpiring Association and Sindh Netball Association. As part of the three day course, participants were assessed using a written test, beep test and practical umpiring assessment, with Mr Farhan Ali from Punjab adjudged to have performed the best. The successful participants, who now hold Pakistan Netball Federation accreditation, will now look to educate new umpires in their areas with a view to encouraging further qualifications in the future.

Picture shows participants in this week's Pakistan National Netball Umpiring Course.

The 2012 ANZ Championships gets under way this weekend in Australia and New Zealand with defending champions Queensland Firebirds looking to extend their unbeaten run which goes back to round 14 of the competition in 2010. However, with many teams strengthening their squads in the closed season, there are several contenders for the title and much will depend on how players acclimatise to the rigours of the competition and the long distance travelling it involves. The competition opens on Saturday with a clash of two former champions – Adelaide Thunderbirds hosts NSW Swifts. Following the failure of Jamaican star, Carla Borrego, to obtain Australian citizenship within the competition's deadlines, which has blocked the inclusion of another Jamaican, Jhanelle Fowler, in the side, Thunderbirds have named 18 year old, Amehlia Schmidt, as their 12th player for the 2012 season. For the latest news about the competition, please visit www.anz-championship.com

Five players from Botswana and Namibia have already made their mark in the opening week of Singapore's Fairprice Foundation Netball Superleague, with Namibian, Anna Kasper, inspiring her side, Bedok Kings Vipers to a shock 54-39 win over Mission Mannas last weekend. It is hoped that the five, invited to participate in the competition by Singapore national coach, Kate Carpenter, will add competitive edge, athleticism and increased media exposure to the Superleague, as well as giving Singapore's national players the chance to compete against and learn from different playing styles.

In the UK, Northern Thunder kept up their winning record at the top of the Fiat Netball Superleague, with an impressive 62-39 win over former champions TeamBath in the competition's top tier. Second placed Surrey Storm were pushed all the way by a resurgent Mavericks, before finally edging to a 48-42 win. Meanwhile, in the second tier, Yorkshire Jets maintained their pressure for a play-off place with a 52-34 win over Loughborough Lightning.

Finally, congratulations to all those who took part in this week's Antigua Inter- Championships, which climax today (Friday 30 March). In addition to the competition played at U13 and U16 level (won by St Andrew's Primary and Princess Margaret Secondary), Antiguan teams have also played a series of matches against Belmont School, currently visiting the island from England.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Netball around the world

Many Congratulations to former Northern Ireland captain Hannah Irvine, pictured below, has been named Belfast Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her role in last summer's World Netball Championships, which saw the country reach the competition's quarter finals for the first time. The 27 year old school teacher has consistently proved herself one of Northern Ireland's top performers and acts as a role model for her pupils and other young players across the country.

The Swiss team got a huge and unexpected boost when former President Micheline Calmy-Rey visited them at the under-17s European Netball Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Calmy-Rey, who stepped down as President of Switzerland last year, was showing support for the young Swiss team, which included her granddaughter Oriane, who plays at wing attack and centre. Read more at

Australian international Mo'onia Gerrard had a key role in this week's Harmony Day (21 March), which celebrates Australia's cultural diversity and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. As an official Harmony Day Hero, Gerrard – the first player of Tongan descent to play for the Australian Diamonds - spends much of her free time working closely with South Pacific and indigenous girls in metropolitan and regional New South Wales to promote healthy and active lifestyles. This week she has been holding free netball clinics to introduce the game to young players from disadvantaged areas and ultimately hopes to form a team and then a club for the players she coaches.

Edith Kaliati has resigned from her position as head coach of Malawi's national side, the Queens, after a career which has seen her serve as team manager and assistant coach to the team before taking over the lead coaching role in 2008.

England's selectors have named the U21 training squad for the 2013 World Youth Championships, to be held in Glasgow. Former international Colette Thomson will coach the squad, assisted by TeamBath head coach Jess Garland. Several of the selected athletes already have senior international experience, and additional players may be added to the group during the year. Those named are: Rosie Allison, Stephanie Burt, Sophia Candappa, Eleanor Cardwell, Beth Cobden, Sam Cook, Shaunagh Craig, Amanda Davis, Honor de Winton, Francesca Desmond, Jodie Gibson, Layla Guscoth, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Hannah Joseph, Olivia Mason, Lauren Massey, Jordan Moxey, Rachel Mulloy, Yasmin Parsons, Rachel Shaw, Alice Travis, Kathryn Turner. The squad competed for the first time last weekend against Wales U21 and emerged 50-39 victors.

Australian captain Natalie von Bertouch returns to on-court action this weekend after eight months away from the game to recover from the removal of a sesamoid bone in her right foot last November. Von Bertouch will line up for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in trial match against Melbourne Vixens as she looks to gain as much court time as possible before the Thunderbirds' opening game of the 2012 ANZ Championships, against NSW Swifts on 31 March.

To support the 2012 ANZ Championships, Sky Sports has announced it extend its coverage of netball in New Zealand, by including college netball as part of it's Monday night programming. In addition, New Zealand viewers will be able to see all 69 matches of the competition across the 17 week season, as well as a new half hour review show, The Netball Show which will sum up the week's action.

Lisa Stanley, head coach of Team Northumbria in the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague, was hailed a hero this week, after preventing a potentially fatal accident as her team travelled to face Loughborough Lightning. When the team's coach driver was taken ill at the wheel while on the busy M1 motorway, Stanley reacted quickly, taking over controls of the 12 tonne bus and steering it safely to the side of the road. None of the players or support staff on board was hurt, and the driver was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Finally, congratulations to Urvasi Naidoo, CEO of IFNA, who has been shortlisted in the 2012 Asian Women of Achievement Awards, which champion the contribution made by Asian women across British business, sports, public, cultural, community and political life. Winners in each of the 11 categories will be named at a glittering awards ceremony in May 2012.


IFNA Chief Executive, Urvasi Naidoo, has been shortlisted for the 2012 Asian Women of Achievement Awards, which champion the contribution made by Asian women across British business, sports, public, cultural, community and political life.

Founded and chaired by author and entrepreneur Pinky Lilani OBE, and now in their 13th year, the Awards have recognised Asian female pioneers such as comedy actress Nina Wadia; Kamal Basran, founder of the UK’s leading ethnic food supplier, The Authentic Food Company; civil rights activist Shami Chakrabarti; and the first Asian woman to lead a FTSE 250 business, Ruby McGregor-Smith.

This year, the Awards also include a new “Asian Women of Achievement Community Award” and “Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport”, to celebrate the impending London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Urvasi Naidoo features in both categories – as IFNA CEO in the Sport category, and a Trustee of charity Sporting Equals in the Community category. Sporting Equals promotes ethnic diversity across sport. Urvasi says of the charity’s work: "It's important to try and engage people to do more sport, particularly Asian people and Asian women. They are not taking enough physical activity. Ninety-two per cent of South Asian women don't take part in recommended levels of physical activity compared to 55 per cent of all women in the UK. It could be cultural; it could be there are fewer opportunities; it could be no one's encouraged them..."

Pinky Lilani said: “The Asian Women of Achievement Awards provide the benchmark for aspiring female Asians in the UK and give them a platform to showcase their unbelievable achievements which must be applauded.”

Chris Sullivan, Chief Executive, Corporate Banking Division, of headline sponsor RBS, said of the Awards: “RBS is delighted to support the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, one of the most important programmes recognising Britain's fantastic diversity of talent.”
The judging panel, chaired by Sir Nicholas Young, Chief Executive of British Red Cross, will meet over the coming weeks to decide winners for each of the 11 categories, with the winners announced at a ceremony on 16 May 2012 at the London Hilton, Park Lane.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Netball around the world

Abu Dhabi’s netballers are celebrating a superb three-out-of-three win at the 26th annual Inter-Gulf Championships in Al Ain – and gearing up to host the prestigious event next year. In the final, Abu Dhabi defeated long-time rivals Dubai to lift the trophy and be looking to maintain their hold on the trophy at next year's championships, to be played in March 2013. The Kukri AD Eagles beat Dubai A in the Cup final with 20-18. The Kukri AD Oryx beat Dubai D in the Plate final with 16-8 and the Kukri AD Ravens fought vigorously against Qatar to bring home the Bowl trophy with the Social final score of 18-8.The Inter-Gulf Championship is a non-funded competition which brings together top athletes from around the Gulf, including countries such as Bahrain and Oman, and Emirates like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain.

England's selectors have called up three new faces for the squad announced to meet Barbados in April. Kerry Almond of Northern Thunder joins Jodie Gibson of Loughborough Lightning and Mia Ritchie of TeamBath in the squad which play three matches against the world number nine nation. Experienced shooter Pamela Cookey (pictured) will captain the side in the absence of Jade Clarke, who will be playing in the ANZ Championships for New Zealand franchise Northern Mystics: Northern Thunder's Sara Bayman will be vice captain for the series. The full England squad to face Barbados is: Pamela Cookey (capt), Sara Bayman (vice capt), Kerry Almond, Kadeen Corbin, Sasha Corbin, Emma Dovey, Rachel Dunn, Gemma Fletcher, Jodie Gibson, Tamsin Greenway, Naida Hutchinson, Lindsay Keable, Laura Malcolm, Mia Ritchie, Rachel Shaw.

Meanwhile, a host of international dates have been announced this week, featuring four of the world's top six nations. Australia and New Zealand will face each other in the Constellation Cup series in September before, in a first for international netball, the two countries will host a quad series in October, which will see the world's top two netballing nations facing off against world number three England and world number six South Africa in matches played on both sides of the Tasman.

Netball has been recognised as making a ‘significant contribution to peace and the promotion of sport in Africa’ at the annual Africa International Sports Convention (CISA) JAPPO Awards, held in Bamako, Mali on the 1-3 March. The awards ceremony spotlights sportspeople and institutions considered to have made a tangible contribution to African sport. The International Federation of Netball Associations was singled out by CISA because of a new project, “Netball for Peace”, introducing netball in Burundi in conjunction with ‘Peace and Sport’.

Jamaica's emerging netballers will not be participating in this year's Caribbean U16 championships in Trinidad and Tobago, after it was announced that the Young Sunshine Girls will instead be travelling to the UK to face England's U17 squad in a three match series during April. The tour forms part of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA)'s fiftieth anniversary celebrations and will be used to identify potential emerging talent for the Jamaican U21 squad for the next World Youth Championships.

This weekend, the JNA also launches its Advanced Level One Coaching Certificate Course, in association with the University of Technology, with the first group of 20 coachings starting their training. The association plans to train 240 high school netball coaches under the programme by the end of 2013.

Malawian former international Mary Waya has confirmed her attendance as an instructor at the forthcoming IFNA rules conference in Tanzania, which is scheduled to take place in May. The course will introduce delegates from across East Africa to the rule changes introduced on 1 January, and will also feature sessions led by Tanzanian coach Mary Protas.

England's young netball talent once again dominated the Netball Europe championships, taking the U17 and U21 titles last weekend, while the U19 squad won the U21 development section. Switzerland, playing in its first European competition, came second in the U17 development section. The Netball Europe Open championships take place from 25-27 May.

With the start of the 2012 ANZ Championships only weeks away, some netballing greats are set to return to the court this weekend in New Zealand, as the Southern Steel finalises preparations for the new season. Former Southern Sting stars Tania Dalton and Jenny Ferguson will line up with former Silver Ferns captains Belinda Colling and Lesley Rumball in an invitational side to face the Steel in a practice match – and the visitors will be hoping for an insight into the franchise's playing strategies as they will be coached by Steel player Wendy Frew, currently out of action while expecting her first child. This match, as well as a preceding game against the Otago/Southland Lois Muir Challenge team will be played at the Cross Recreation Centre in Balclutha, with ticket proceeds used to purchase sporting equipment for the new facility.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

IFNA Wins Top Africa Award

Netball has been recognised as making a ‘significant contribution to peace and the promotion of sport in Africa’ at the annual Africa International Sports Convention (CISA) JAPPO Awards, held in Bamako, Mali on the 1-3 March. The awards ceremony spotlights sportspeople and institutions considered to have made a tangible contribution to African sport.

The International Federation of Netball Associations was singled out by CISA because of a new project, “Netball for Peace”, introducing netball in Burundi in conjunction with ‘Peace and Sport’. CISA Chief Executive Officer Diamil Faye said of the scheme: “We went into the programme that you initiated in Burundi and appreciated the contents and the philosophy. We believe that sport can achieve many victories through initiatives like that one.”

The award, in the Sport Humanitarian Actions category, was collected by Joan Smit, IFNA's Regional Development Manager for Africa. IFNA’s work in Burundi has included training army officers as coaches and umpires, and rolling out netball sessions for girls normally unable to engage in sport, because they are looking after younger siblings while their parents work. Delighted, Joan Smit said of the award: “This shows that others recognise what we have long known – that netball has the power to change women’s and girl’s lives. We are going from strength to strength in Africa, as we have moved beyond our traditional English-speaking countries into new areas where netball is completely unknown. Netball can give a huge amount to Africa, but Africa is already giving a lot back in return, with amazing enthusiasm and natural talent.”

And here is a lovely picture of Joan picking up the Award

Netball around the world

The work conducted by the Netball Development Trust in Uganda over the past two years is bearing fruit, with news that the first ever Mbale Tigers-NDT Open competition was won by North Road Primary School, Mbale. In the final, the winners overcame arch-rivals Maluku Primary School 13-3, having beaten Busamaga 9-6 in the semi finals. Eight schools from the area took part in the competition, with prizes awarded for the best players in each section as well as for the winners. The Netball Development Trust will be returning to Uganda this summer, and is keen to hear from any volunteers interested in helping with its programme of coaching and development which will run from 21 June to 9 July should email netballtrust@hotmail.com.

Three members of Botswana's national squad leave next week to take part in Singapore's Super League, a first for the African nation. Defenders Kagisano Mawela (29) and Ntebogang Motlakaloso (20) and shooter Tebogo Radipotsane (25) were spotted by scouts at the 2011 World Netball Championships, and will be based in Singapore from 20 March – 29 April for the duration of the Super League competition. Singapore's Super League is an elite domestic competition comprising six teams: each team has the option to include one current overseas international as part of the Singapore Super League International Player

The cream of Europe's young netballers have assembled this weekend in Northern Ireland and Scotland for the Netball Europe U21 and U17 championships respectively. And in encouraging news for Netball Scotland ahead of the World Youth Championships and Commonwealth Games, it is clear that netball is increasingly popular in Glasgow, with tickets for the Kelvin Hall competition sold out for Friday's sessions, and moving quickly for the rest of the weekend.

Netball Australia this week announced an exciting new initiative which will enable the organisation to play a key role in the prevention of violence against women, by delivering education programmes to more than 6,000 young netballers. As part of the Australian government's partnership with sporting organisations, Netball Australia will receive $250,000AU (approx $265,000US) to enable the delivery of educational programmes across three levels targetting young people aged 12-21. A social marketing and peer education programme will be delivered to indigenous school-aged girls through Netball Australia's partnership with the David Wirrpanda Foundation and a “No to Violence” module will be developed for the Foundation and Development coaching courses.

Reigning ANZ champions the Queensland Firebirds demonstrated that they are once again the team to beat when they defeated the Melbourne Vixens 50-30 to take the pre-season Carrus Cup at Mount Maunganui last weekend. After an undefeated 2011 season, Roselee Jencke's team were in imperious form throughout the weekend, which featured all ten ANZ franchises, and a draw with Norma Plummer's West Coast Fever was the closest any of the sides came to defeating them. The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic side was too strong for last season's grand finallists, the Northern Mystics, taking third place with a 51-36 win. Former premiers Adelaide Thunderbirds came fifth, defeating Australian rivals the Sydney Swifts in the play off 42-34.

Netball in the Solomon Islands continues to grow, with news that sponsorship has been secured from the Our Telekom Company for the National U20 Championships, to be played on Bellona Island in April, and the National Senior Inter-provincial Championships, which will be held in Lata, Temotu Province in November. President of the Solomon Islands Netball Federation (SINFED), Noelyn Luahiti, is confident that entry levels will be high for both competitions, as the federation looks to improve standards of domestic competition across the country.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Netball around the world

In Oceania, 90 umpires took part in last week's umpire development clinic in Fiji, which was run by Netball Fiji's technical development team. Overwhelmed by the response, Netball Fiji will be running further umpire development clinics in the coming weeks, as well as coaching, umpiring and administration clinics around Viti Levu in a bid to revive the sport in the provinces.

Jamaica's Minister with Responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley has given her assurance that the standard of facilities at the country's Leila Robinson Netball Centre will be improved to assist with the future development of the game. Her comments were made at the launch of the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) divisions A and C netball leagues last week, and follow a call from JNA President Marva Barnard (Pictured) for government assistance in upgrading the facilities available to players. At the launch event, Supreme Ventures Ltd (SVL) presented a cheque for $J4.5 million (approx $52,000US) to Ms Barnard to mark the ninth year that the company has sponsored the leagues.

Competitive netball has returned to its birthplace – the YMCA in the USA. The Flatbush-YMCA located in Brooklyn, New York has linked up with the New York State Netball Association (NYSNA) to organise a winter league that now has ten participating teams. Matches are now being played regularly at weekends with players in a wide range of age categories, from U16 to over 40. NYSNA is hoping that this Winter League will now run annually and that other YMCA facilities nationwide will follow. For more information about netball in New York call toll free (855)697-6212 (855-NYSNA12).

In the UK reigning Fiat Netball Superleague champions Mavericks held off a spirited challenge from former titleholders TeamBath to take a 51-49 victory in the latest round of the competition and moved into third place in the league. Meanwhile, at the top of the table, Northern Thunder defeated title-rivals Surrey Storm 67-48 to secure their place in the top four of the table for the second phase of the season.

With the official pre-season tournament starting next Friday, preparations for the 2012 ANZ Championship are almost complete. Former Tactix midcourter Phillipa Finch has been added to the Southern Steel as replacement for Wendy Frew, who withdrew from the side after announcing her pregnancy, while former Silver Fern Jodi Brown has been announced as the side's captain. Across the Tasman, the Sydney Swifts have named Kimberlee Green and Mo'onia Gerrard as co-captains for the 2012 season, with Susan Pratley as their vice captain.

Meanwhile in Africa, Tanzania's netball association, CHANETA, has announced a three day seminar in March to introduce IFNA's latest rule changes to coaches and umpires. Attendees are expected from across the country, as well as delegates from Swaziland and Uganda and other African nations.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Netball around the world

In Pakistan, Army defeated Punjab 19-14 to win the 10th National Women’s Netball Championship crown this week. IOC member in Pakistan and Punjab Olympic Association President Syed Shahid Ali graced the occasion as a chief guest and is pictured with the winning team at the prize presentation ceremony. At the conclusion of the competition, it was announced that 20 girls from the championships have been selected for the Pakistan squad which will play a five match home test series against India next month. A return series to India is also planned for later in the year.

The ANZ Championships will be without two key international stars this season, after it was announced that former Australian captain Sharelle McMahon and Kiwi international Wendy Frew will both miss the 2012 competition as they are pregnant. The two stars' teams, the Melbourne Vixens and the Southern Steel respectively have applied to the organisers of the league to name replacement players for the pair.

South African captain Amanda Myndhardt has confirmed that she will be travelling to New Zealand at the end of February with the aim of increasing her netball experience. Myndhardt, 26, aims to play for an amateur club and will return to South Africa at the end of July, unless she is selected for the National Provincial Championships, in which case she will delay her return until October.

Vanuatu Netball Association has revived its Duck Duck netball training programme for children aged 3-9, which will run for the next six weeks. During the sessions, the children are introduced to basic netball skills and drills, and are coached by members of the Vanuatu national squad.

In the USA, a link between the USA Netball Association and the largest after school programme in the country has made a successful start, with a pilot programme in North Carolina, led by coach Edna Cassells and members of the Florida Netball Association. Members of the after school Boys and Girls Club have been introduced to netball in a “taster” session, and have opted to include netball as part of the after school programme moving forwards, under the watchful eye of a local basketball coach. More after school initiatives to extend the outreach of netball are expected in the coming months.

In the latest rounds of the Fiat Netball Superleague in the UK, Celtic Dragons shocked reigning champions Mavericks to take a well deserved 48-39 victory. Grenada's Lottysha Cato was once again the Dragons' spearhead in attack, netting 30 of her side's goals and making life difficult for Mavericks' defensive line. However, the Hertfordshire side's backline will be strengthened for this week's match against Team Northumbria by the return of England international Naida Hutchinson, who has missed the past 22 months of action with a serious knee injury. In the week's other matches, Surrey Storm were too strong for former champions TeamBath, taking a 65-52 win in their encounter: Northern Thunder moved to the top of the table, equal on points with Storm, thanks to a 66-34 win at Loughborough Lightning.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Netball around the world

South Africa's netballers have added a new expert to their support staff who they believe will enable them to move further up the world rankings. Sherylle Calder, a world-renowned specialist in visual performance skills and their effect on improved sporting performance, has previously worked with the World Cup winning England and South African rugby teams in 2003 and 2007. Her EyeGym visual skills development programme enhances the capacity of players to assess information about performance during play and South African coach Elize Kotze is confident that this will enable her players to move up into the world's top four in the coming months.

Import players look set to make a major impact on the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague this season. Namibia's Toetsie Kambatuku was in sparkling form for Team Northumbria as they held off the challenge of Celtic Dragons 55-52, despite excellent shooting from the Welsh side's towering Grenadan shooter Lottysha Cato. Australian shooter Janelle Lawson helped Northern Thunder to a 55-45 victory over former champions Team Bath with 35 of her side's goals, to take the North-West-based franchise top of the table, level on points with Surrey Storm, who beat Loughborough Lightning 66-38.

Tanzania's Amateur Netball Association (CHANETA) has announced early planning ahead of the Africa Senior Challenge tournament, to be hosted in the country in May. The Association is aiming for the country's “long squad” of 30 players to move into a three week residential camp on 20 February, after which numbers will be reduced to 20. This group will then undergo intensive training until three weeks before the tournament, at which point the 14 to represent Tanzania at the competition – which features teams from 16 African nations – will be selected. CHANETA is also seeking coaching support from neighbouring countries to ensure that its players are the best prepared they can be for the tournament.

Preparations continue in Fiji for this summer's Pacific Netball Series (PNS) with the announcement of an umpires coaching clinic on 18 February, which will be held in conjunction with bench officials training. All umpires from districts in Fiji, together with interested teachers, secondary school students and umpires have been invited to the day-long session, which aims to increase the number of accredited officials across the country and thus provide opportunities for Fijian officials to take part in the PNS.

The Cayman Islands 2012 Netball League is now under way and has already seen a major shock, with National Bank All Stars B overcoming defending champions Roma A 37-35 in a
thrilling match this week. Meanwhile, in the Gulf, Rugby Club 'A' laid down a marker for their competitors in the opening round of the DHL Bahrain Netball Cup at the British Club in Umm Al Hassam. The Rugby Club side followed up their impressive 31-13 league win over close rivals British Club 'A' with a 64-6 victory over the luckless Sri Lankan Club.
Elsewhere, there were also wins for Dilmun Champion 'A', British Club 'A' and Dilmun Champion 'B', who all advance to the cup semi-finals.

Australian Diamond Sharelle McMahon pictured below returned to competitive action this week, after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury which kept her out of the Netball World Championships in Singapore. McMahon took to the court for Melbourne Vixens in a pre-season match against Victorian Netball League team Boroondara Genesis, and moved freely before being replaced at half time.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

IFNA Seeks Chief Executive Officer

Job Title

Chief Executive Officer


International Netball Federation Limited

Circa £50,000 commensurate with experience


Manchester, UK

Type of Contract

Maternity Cover to commence April 2012 at the latest.

Job Description
The International Netball Federation, the world governing body for the sport, located in Manchester, England, is seeking to recruit a Chief Executive Officer.

The incumbent will report to the President and Board of Directors and will be responsible for providing strategic direction as well as directing the policy, operations and development of the Federation for the achievement of both long and short term global objectives of the sport of Netball.

In addition, they will be expected to provide general and specific direction for the day-to-day management of the Federation through but not limited to fiscal management, human resource management, marketing and public relations and administrative management.

The successful candidate should exhibit strong management, leadership, strategic thinking and communication skills with a sound record of project management and achieving results.

The candidate should possess a Degree or Diploma in Business Management or Sports Management and Marketing with the following experience:

o At least five years experience in senior management roles, including at Board level, with direct line responsibility, ideally within the recreational/ sports industries

o Demonstrated experience in coordinating events, and liaison with national and/or international organisations, sponsors and Government bodies

Full job description and person specification on the IFNA website – www.netball.org

How to apply

Send CV to ifna@netball.org or by post:

IFNA Secretariat
Albion Wharf
19 Albion Street
M1 5LN
Tel: +44 (0)161 234 6515
Fax: +44 (0)161 234 6516

Closing Date
17th February 2012

Interview Date


Friday, 27 January 2012

Netball around the world

Australian international Mo'onia Gerrard has signed an agreement to become a Gilbert brand ambassador. Gerrard (pictured below) an international for more than ten years with two World Championships gold medals and a Commonwealth Games silver medal, is currently working with Gilbert on her design for a new netball, and joins current Gilbert ambassadors Sharelle McMahon and Irene van Dyk. Gilbert is currently IFNA’s official ball supplier.

The Jamaica Netball Association has overhauled its entire training structure for its national sides, in a bid to improve the performances of all the teams. Former national coach Maureen Hall, the national high performance director, has revised the training schedules for the Sunshine Girls, U21, U17 and U13 national squads, to include specialist skills training as well as improved conditioning sessions. The changes aim to improve player transition between squads, as well as increase base skills levels across all the age groups.

Mwayi Kumwende, Malawi's first professional netballer, has been delayed from returning to Australia to meet up with her Penninsula Waves club colleagues by visa complications. Kumwende, who had an outstanding first season Down Under, had hoped to join the club's pre-season training programme in mid-January, but the Malawian international has been delayed by official red tape and has been forced to start her season's preparations back home.

Two other Malawian netballers – Joyce Mvula and Beauty Chirwa – are still expected to take part in the Tanzanian National Championships as part of the Filbert Bayi side, once parental approval has been received by Netball Association of Malawi to issue clearances to play. However, another Malawian, Takonda Lwazi, has declined the invitation to take part in the competition as she has accepted a post by the Malawi police.

Preparations for the 2012 ANZ Championships are now well under way, with all ten teams confirmed for the official pre-season tournament to take place in Tauranga, New Zealand from 1-4 March. This is the first time that the full ANZ line up will take part in the pre-season competition. Meanwhile, the Canterbury Tactix have confirmed that they will host their own pre-season tournament on 11 and 12 February, featuring the Southern Steel as well as the Tactix Accelerant squad, Canterbury men's team and club side Eastwood Ryde from New South Wales.

The UK's Fiat Netball Superleague got under way this week with a repeat of last season's Grand Final between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks. With several leading names missing from the Mavericks line up for the 2012 season, this time the honours went to Storm, 62-47. Northern Thunder impressed in a 57-36 win over Yorkshire Jets, while Celtic Dragons overcame former champions TeamBath 61-49. In the final match of the first round, Loughborough Lightning withstood a spirited challenge from Team Northumbria to take the win 49-44.

Netball New Zealand has signed a three year agreement with Canterbury of New Zealand to provide all match and training gear to the Silver Ferns as well as to all the Netball New Zealand national squads and umpires. Canterbury, supplier to the SilverFerns from the mid-90s until 2006, replaces Adidas as the association's kit provider. The Silver Ferns' new competition dress will be unveiled in October.

Finally Trinidad and Tobago Netball Association concludes a talent identification programme this weekend, after scouring the national competitions for players in the U16 and U21 age groups as well as for the senior squad. As part of the process, they will visit the Guapo Point of Port Fontin tournament, a new competition which has been introduced to reintroduce netball to south Trinidad – more than ten teams have registered to take part.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Netball around the world

Congratulations to Hong Kong, who registered two wins from two games to emerge champions at a tri-nations competition against neighbours Chinese Taipei and Thailand this week. The competition was designed to provide increased competitive exposure for teams from the region, as part of their preparations for the Asian Championships which will be held in August. Chinese Taipei also played a young Hong Kong side, and registered their first international victory with a 46-38 win. The Hong Kong Netball Association is confident that the tournament will become an annual event and will use it to develop players and officials in the future.

Inspirational Silver Ferns captain, Casey Williams, returns to action with the New Zealand squad for the first time in six months this weekend, after recovering from major ankle surgery which she underwent last September. The star defender, who went under the surgeon's knife to repair damage sustained by years playing at the top level, will join the international squad for the first of two training camps, where they will be joined by members of New Zealand's accelerant group.

The president of the Uganda Netball Association, Susan Ongom, will be seeking a second term as president at elections to be held by the Uganda Netball Federation in the coming weeks.

The Antigua Netball Association Inter-Schools competition got under way this week, with 21 schools taking part at U18, U16 and U13 level. Princess Margaret Secondary School is the reigning U16 champions, while Pares Secondary School holds the U18 crown. Meanwhile, Care Hall Secondary School will be defending its U13 championships.

The Jamaica Netball Association has announced its plans to boost the performances of its international teams during the coming season, with the senior Sunshine Girls scheduled to meet South Africa in a test series later this year, as well as taking part in the Caribbean tournament in July. Meanwhile the young Sunshine Girls will host an Australian U21 touring squad during the summer, as well as honouring a reciprocal arrangement made with a team that travelled to the island from the UK last year.

Netball continues to increase in popularity in Pakistan, with increased competitive opportunities for players of all age groups. This week, the Frontier College for Women upset Government Girls College Nowshera by 13-12 goals in the final of the Inter-College Women Netball Championship played under the aegis of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Women University. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Netball Federation has confirmed it will be organising the ASC Netball Coaching, Development & Tournament Program 2012 for Girls in Karachi this weekend, in collaboration with Australian Sports Commission (ASC) & Sindh Netball Association. More than 100 schools, colleges and universities have been invited to take part in the programme, which will provide coaching and umpiring advice as well as fitness and general netball skills training for participants.

In the UK, Northern Thunder won the Fast Net Grand Prix pre-season tournament, beating Yorkshire Jets 35-21 in the final. The event saw the top two teams from both the northern and southern conferences compete in a one off finals weekend, from which Thunder emerged victorious. They defeated hosts Surrey Storm 27-21 to progress to the final, while the Jets defeated Celtic Dragons and Storm to join them in the play off.

Hosts the Glasgow Wildcats held off competition from across the British Isles to take the title at the inaugural British Invitational tournament last weekend. The tournament was created with financial assistance from Glasgow City Council to help develop a squad of elite players that will represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Glasgow Wildcats were undefeated across the weekend, registering wins over a Northern Ireland select squad, the England U21 squad and Premier Force, a side featuring some of the best players from the south of England.

Finally this week, Welsh Netball has launched a new website to support its franchise in the UK's Netball Superleague. Www.celticdragonsnetball.com will provide regular updates and information on the squad's progress, and Welsh Netball is confident that the increased visibility that it brings will assist in the association's quest for sponsorship support in the coming season.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Netball around the world

In a first for Malawian netball, legendary attacker Mary Waya, this week launched her autobiography – the first book of its kind published in the African nation. “Mary Waya: Netball Queen” looks at her life and achievements and is hoped to inspire a future generation of Queens players. In her 40’s now, Mary still plays netball for local team MTL Queens but has retired from international netball.

Mary pictured in action at World Netball Championships 2007.

Namibian netball continues to flourish with the announcement that two of its national squad members, Anna Kasper and Delia Keja, have been invited to take part in the Singapore SuperLeague, which starts in February. The pair, who impressed scouts during last month's Six Nations Tournament, are confirming terms of their contracts at present, and join their international captain, Toetsi Kambatuku as import players in domestic competitions – Kambatuku will line up for Team Northumbria once more in this season's UK Netball Superleague.

The news comes as the All Namibia Netball Association this week announced a programme of 13 netball “safaris” across the country to unearth potential new international talent, primarily at U21 level. The Association also plans to establish regional U21 league competitions to improve playing standards and increase competitive opportunities across the country.

Netballers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and England will converge on Glasgow this weekend for the inaugural British Invitational Championships. Host side the Glasgow Wildcats will face the Northern Panthers from Northern Ireland, the England U21 side and an invitational side from England, Northern Premier Force in a three day competition which is the start of Scottish Netball's build up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Panthers side includes former international sprinter Anna Boyle, a 60m and 100m Irish record holder, who returned to netball in 2011 after hanging up her running spikes.

In England, the Cathedral City Lighter FastNet Grand Prix reaches its finals this weekend, with four teams competing for the opening prize of the Netball Superleague season. Northern Thunder and Yorkshire Jets qualified for the finals from the Northern Conference while Surrey Storm and Celtic Dragons finished top of the table in the Southern competition. The four will now meet this evening (13 January 2012) to decide who takes the title.

Welsh Netball has signed an agreement with Samurai Sportswear which will become official kit suppliers to the Welsh national squads for the next four years. The high performance kit, which will feature the latest in fabric technology, will be the first international strips produced by the sportswear manufacturer.

Teams in the ANZ Championships are now entering a period of pre-season training, with only one uncertainty remaining over the squad line ups. The Adelaide Thunderbirds have yet to confirm whether Jamaican international Carla Borrego has been granted Australian residency, in which case another Sunshine Girl, towering shooter Jhanele Fowler will take the Thunderbirds' import spot. If Borrego's application is denied, Fowler's place in the team will be taken by a local South Australian player.

The USA Netball Association has announced that the 2012 National Netball Championships will take place in Delray Beach, Florida on 23 and 24 June 2012. The competition, which will be played at the Atlantic Community High School, will be organised in conjunction with the Florida Netball Association. For more information, please visit www.usanetball.org.

Finally, Fiji's selectors will, this weekend, name a training squad of 40 U21 players to start preparations for the 2013 World Youth Championships, after two days of trials. More than 100 players from across the country were identified during the 2011 U21 and Secondary Schools championships to take part in the trials. The selected squad will be coached by Moape Vu and managed by former South Pacific weightlifting gold medallist Della Shaw.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Netball around the world

After the recent Nations Cup in Singapore, and several international Test matches, there have been some changes to the IFNA International Rankings table. After their victories in all three matches against Scotland, Wales move up to 11th place, ahead of Northern Ireland which now sits in 12th position. Singapore moves up two to 19th, while Sri Lanka drops two places to 20th. Malaysia steps up to 22nd in the world from 23rd, while Tanzania and Canada both move down one position. For the full rankings table, and how it is calculated, visit the Rankings section of the IFNA website.

Vanuatu's netballers have increased their international experience in recent weeks: following the visit from Aztecs earlier this year, two Vanuatu teams, supported by sponsorship from Westpac and travelled to Tasmania where they played a number of matches, including fixtures against Latrobe High School, where many of the Aztecs players study. In addition, Vanuatu fielded teams at the 14th Golden Oldies Netball Festival in Fiji, with several new players taking to the court for their country. In domestic competition, Port Vila emerged victorious at the National Netball Series for 2011, with an undefeated record over three days of competition, and will host the Series in 2012.

In Pakistan, the Punjab Netball Association has announced that it will be staging the 10th National Women’s Netball Championships at the LUMS University, Lahore from 6-9 February in association with the Pakistan Netball Federation. 14 teams have confirmed their participation for the competition, including defending champions, Sindh. The top five ranked sides will qualify for the 32nd National Games, to be played in Lahore in October/November.

New Zealand's Netball Southland has appointed an Australian rugby league official as its new chief executive. Queenslander David Bannister will also take on the chief executive's position for the Southern Steel in the ANZ Championships, replacing Julie Paterson who is transferring to the Mystics franchise. Bannister has been the education and development manager for Queensland Rugby League for the past two years and previously spent nine years with Queensland Cricket in both management and development roles.

Leading Tanzanian club side Filbert Bayi (named after its owner, Olympic Silver Medallist, Filbert Bayi) has announced plans to sign several Malawian players on loan for the forthcoming season to help to improve playing standards and increase netball's participation in the region. This continues the partnership started in 2011, when legendary Malawian attacking star Mary Waya and emerging centre courter Takondwa Lwazi joined Filbert Bayi for the Tanzanian National Championships, while Waya also conducted a number of coaching courses across the country.

Finally, another Malawian, international shooter Mwayi Kumwende (pictured below in action against Australia at last year's World Netball Championships) returns to Australia this week to take up her second eight month contract with Victoria Netball League (VNL) club side Peninsula Waves, as part of an agreement which is renewable for three years. 22 year old Kumwenda had a very successful first season at Waves, taking her side's player of the season award as well as achieving selection to the VNL All Star team.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Netball around the world

In the UK, leading dairy supplier Dairy Crest is to sponsor two netball events in the coming year to build awareness of its brands among netballers. The Cathedral City Mature Lighter Cheddar Fast Net Grand Prix will take place in January, featuring all eight franchises from the Netball Superleague, playing in Northern and Southern conference competitions. The winners from each region will qualify for the competition finals, which will take place at the Surrey Sports Park on 13 January 2012. The brand will also be the official dairy sponsor for the Netball Superleague in 2012 and 2013.

Meanwhile, England's Netball Talent League – featuring players aged 14-19 years old representing the eight Superleague franchises, plus the South and West Midlands regions – got under way with a two day festival involving all of the teams. After three matches, Northern Thunder's youth emerged undefeated to lead the table, while West Midlands Warriors, Yorkshire Jets, Mavericks Youth, Surrey Storm Youth and Team South all took two wins from three games.

Fiji coach Unaisi Rokoura is planning to use the skills her side learned at the World Netball Series in Liverpool last month to boost their performances in internationals during 2012.

Despite losing all their matches in their first appearance at the Fastnet competition, Rokoura has highlighted the improvements in decision making and concentration that the new format has given her players, as well as drawing attention to the importance of making the correct coaching moves at the right time. Rokoura is now putting these lessons into practice and, with her players, aims to use Fastnet more regularly in training sessions during 2012 to speed up her players' reactions to on-court situations.

In Africa, it has been confirmed that the National Netball Association of Swaziland (NNAS) will host the Confederation of Southern African Netball Associations (COSANA) Games next year. The Swaziland Sports Council has promised financial assistance to NNAS to fund the competition, which provides competitive opportunities for nations across Southern Africa.

In the Solomon Islands, support from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Waikaru Trust Association of Santa Ana has ensured that the Santa Ana Festive tournament has been staged for the first time in more than 10 years. 17 teams from Santa Ana, as well as the adjacent island of Santa Catalina and Star Harbour are currently battling it out for the championships, as well as a generous cash prize. It is hoped that the reinstatement of this tournament will revive interest in netball across Santa Ana as well as the neighbouring islands, as there have been few competitive opportunities available to young players in recent years.

Christmas held an extra-special surprise for one Bermudan netballer this week, when the Bermuda Netball Association (BNA) presented former Clearwater Middle School head girl Asante Chapman with a $1,000 cheque. The money was given in recognition of the progress the 14 year old netballer has made in the UK since being accepted into the Elite Surrey Netball Academy in the UK, where Chapman is currently studying. Since she plays regularly in “lucky” colourful socks, the BNA asked Chapman's local association players to arrive for the last game before Christmas in long multi-colour socks as a surprise for her! Asante is pictured receiving her cheque from the BNA President, Tracey Sheriff and Minister of Youth Affairs and Families, Glen Blackney.

Finally this week, on behalf of everyone at IFNA, we would like to wish all our Members, supporters and friends a very happy and successful 2012!