Netball received global recognition this week when Mwayi Kumwenda, Africa’s only representativecurrently playing in the ANZ Championships, scooped the International WorldGames Association Athlete of the Year 2015 award. Kumwenda polled almost 9,000 votes more thanher nearest rivals, and the award caps a stellar year for the 26 year old, whowas named Player of the Tournament at last year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney. During that tournament, she was the onlyshooter to score more than 300 goals. The award has been recognised by public statements of support fromseveral key Malawian dignitaries including the country’s president PeterMutharika.
Meanwhile, thethird year of Malawi’s Airtel Money national netball trophy will be launched on13 February in Salima. The competition,which will run for three months, will start at district level, from where localchampions will qualify for the regional finals. Regional winners will then move on to the national stage of thecompetition. Tigresses are the currentholders of the national title, having won for the past two years.
When New Zealand’s Silver Ferns return to the court later this year, they will be without afamiliar face in support. Lead physiotherapist Sharon Kearney has stepped down from the Silver Fernsprogramme, after more than ten years working with the side at five NetballWorld Cups, two Commonwealth Games and 155 Test matches.
NetballAustralia has announced the names of the umpires who will represent the countryin the umpire pool for this year’s ANZ Championship. Eight of the nine are current InternationalUmpire Award (IUA) holders, adding to the depth of Netball Australia’s HighPerformance Umpire Pathway. Congratulationsto: Rachael Ayre (who has dual cause tocelebrate this week, as she gave birth to a daughter, Lia, last week), MichellePhippard, Josh Bowring, Helen George, Clare McCabe, Tara Warner, Kate Wright,Marc Henning and Bronwen Adams.
With the newseason only two rounds old, overseas players, and players returning from theANZ Championship, have dominated the accolades in the UK’s NetballSuperleague. Trinidad and Tobagoshooter Sammy Wallace took the first player of the match award for the newseason, shooting at 92% as Mavericks defeated Celtic Dragons 60-39. New Zealand midcourter Liana Leota andJamaican international defender were impressive as Manchester Thunder beatNorthumbria 59-37. Ama Agbeze, recentlynamed player of the series for England against Australia, continued herstunning form as Loughborough Lightning opened their season with a 65-34 winover Yorkshire Jets. Former championsTeam Bath have already registered two wins for the season. South African defender Karla Mostert inspireda final-quarter comeback by the West Country side to overturn a ten goaldefecit to beat champions Surrey Storm 47-44, while another Proteas international,Lenize Potgeiter, too much of a handful for the Yorkshire Jets defence, as herside registered a comfortable
58-34 win overlast season’s semi-finallists.
photos Janos Schmidt