Netball New Zealand has announced a new domestic competition structure, in response to criticism of the lack of depth in the country’s elite level athletes. The National Netball League (NNL) is a development competition which will run concurrently with the ANZ Championship and feature five teams – one from each of the country’s netball zones. The teams will play a double round-robin competition, including 14 post-match games which will be televised on Sky Sports following ANZ Championship matches. The new league will run for 12 weeks from 10 April 2016, with the grand final scheduled to take place in Auckland on 26 June. It is hoped that the new competition will provide vital preparation and conditioning for future ANZ Championship and Silver Ferns athletes, and ease the transition between club and elite netball.
A familiar face in world netball stepped down this week, after Marva Barnard was replaced as president of Netball Jamaica by Paula Daley-Morris. Barnard, who has been in the role for the past ten years, was replaced after a vote at the association’s AGM, held earlier this week. The first challenge for Daley-Morris is to ensure that Netball Jamaica has a more solid financial foundation, to enable the Sunshine Girls to continue their improvements and challenge the top three teams in the world in regular competition.
Netball will emerge in the new year as a quicker, quieter game, after the International Netball Federation announced it will be introducing new rules in January. Changes include the reduction in the amount of whistle used during open play, together with tightening of the rules around injury breaks. These have been reduced from two minutes to 30 seconds, with players now having to leave the court within 30 seconds after an injury time out is called. Changes are also being made around the setting of penalties, to stop delaying tactics being used to enable the offending team to regroup and disadvantage the opposition. Goal-tending, too, has been outlawed, banning the deflection of scoring attempts once the ball is on a downward flight towards the ring, including touching the ball up through the net – a move which essentially prohibits the controversial “chair lift” introduced over the past couple of seasons in the ANZ Championships.
Fiji vice captain Maria Latua will be the first player from her country to take to the court in the UK’s Netball Superleague. Midcourter Latua has been signed to Yorkshire Jets to replace Natalie Haythornthwaite, who moved to Manchester Thunder earlier this year. Fans will have the opportunity to see Latua in action for the first time in December, when the two northern sides meet in a pre-season friendly fixture.
Australia’s Caitlin Bassett has been named as the world’s best player by a panel of experts assembled by the Guardian Newspaper group. Bassett, who scored 964 goals at 89% accuracy across the ANZ Championship and international seasons, was untouchable, apart from one game against Diamonds captain Laura Geitz during the ANZ Championships and another against Casey Kopua at the Netball World Cup. England’s Serena Guthrie is the only Northern hemisphere player in the list, at number three: the full details can be found here http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/nov/24/2015-guardian-world-netball-top-10-australias-caitlin-bassett-voted-no1
Finally, congratulations to Trinidad and Tobago’s former international Bridget Adams, who has been inducted into the FC Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, alongside ten of the country’s other sporting heroes. Adams, who now works as head coach of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, was one of her country’s most prolific and accurate shooters during her international career, and in 1990, the Trinidad and Tobago national court was named the Bridget Adams Netball Court, something which she regards as a key highlight of her netballing career.