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.