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.

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