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

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.