Netball continues to develop across Asia, with news that Pakistan has announced its team for the 9th Asian Junior Girls championships, which takes place in Hong Kong from 14-20 December. The ten player squad will be captained by Anum Salam with Kashia Asif named as vice captain. The remainder of the squad is: Yusra Shoaib, Fatima Ansari, Sara Rehmat, Asmat Rehmat, Laila Fareed, Sakina Shabbir, Submal Zehra and Ayesha Asid, with Anusha Rehman as reserve. The squad, which will be coached by Shazia Yousaf, leaves Karachi tomorrow (12 December) for the competition, which will feature sides from Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Thiland, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby has wasted no time in setting the standards she expects her side to adhere to, relegating two of New Zealand’s World Cup side from Sydney 2015 to the Development squad following trials held this week. Malia Paseka, a shooter, and Phoenix Karaka, a defender, returned poor results in their fitness testing during the latest round of trials and have lost their places in the Ferns squad as a result. However, Southby has left the door open for the young pair to return ahead of the international season, filling only 14 of a possible 18 contracted positions for 2016. The beneficiaries of this new policy are midcourter Gina Crampton and defender Storm Purvis, both of whom previously played under Southby at the Southern Steel, along with Tactix defender Jess Moulds. Anna Harrison returns to the Ferns line up after the birth of her second child and will add much-needed experience to a New Zealand side without captain Casey Kopua, who is currently pregnant. Those named for New Zealand representative honours in 2016 are: (Silver Ferns) Bailey Mes, Cathrine Latu, Maria Tutaia, Ameliaranne Wells, Gina Crampton, Kayla Cullen, Shannon Francois, Laura Langman, Grace Rasmussen, Leana de Bruin, Katrina Grant, Anna Harrison, Jess Moulds, Storm Purvis. (Development Squad) Ellen Halpenny, Phoenix Karaka, Malia Paseka, Erikana Pedersen, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Samantha Sinclair, Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick, Zoe Walker
Two young English players have made their breakthroughs into contention for national representation, with the news that shooter George Fisher and midcourter Hannah Joseph have been named for the first time as reserves for the national squad’s upcoming series against world champions Australia. With four key members of England’s World Cup squad - Stacey Francis, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Geva Mentor – taking additional time to recuperate after a committed four year programme which culminated in Sydney, the series against an Australia side in a period of rebuilding offers a great opportunity for emerging names to stake their claims on a place in the national squad. The full England line up for January’s three test series is: Sara Bayman (capt), Jade Clarke (vice capt), Ama Agbeze, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Sasha Corbin, Rachel Dunn, Jodie Gibson, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Helen Housby, Lindsay Keable, Laura Malcolm, Rachel Shaw. George Fisher and Hannah Joseph have been named as reserves for the series which starts in Liverpool on 20 January.
While for many, the coming weeks represent the chance to rest and relax, Zimbabwe’s young netballers will be hard at work, preparing for the World Youth Championships qualifiers, to be held early next year. 30 young hopefuls, including the majority of those which lifted the U20 title at the African Union Sports Council championships in Bulawayo in 2014, will be going into the camp, as Zimbabwe looks to qualify for the World Youth Championships to be held in Botswana in 2017.