By Rona Hunnisett
Champion shooter Irene van Dyk will have a new off-court role in promoting netball at all levels in New Zealand.Van Dyk has been given the job of Netball NZ's ambassador for development from grass roots to high performance. Netball NZ said that she was the natural choice because of her iconic status and long term involvement in the game. In her new role, van Dyk will combine playing for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championships with acting as the face of netball nationwide, as well as enhancing the work that the governing body is doing to continue to raise the sport's profile. She announced her international retirement last year after a world record 217 Tests, making her debut for South Africa before earning 145 caps with the Silver Ferns.
Former Australian head coach Jill McIntosh, Netball Jamaica’s technical director, is set to arrive in the island on March 31 to continue her work with the Sunshine Girls, who are currently preparing for the World Cup. McIntosh, who worked with the Jamaican side en route to its bronze medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, has been in constant contact with the squad and management since the competition, and will be an integral part of the Sunshine Girls' bench team in the run up to, and at the world event.
Hong Kong's youth squad will undertake a training tour to Australia from 31 March to 8 April, to provide quality training and match practice opportunities for its players. Meanwhile, netball is included in the programme of the country's 56th Festival of Sport, which will run until June. The Hong Kong Netball Association is one of 65 National Sports Associations organising more than 80 sports events across the Federation, to encourage people to increase active participation and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The Association this week staged demonstrations and opportunities for young people to "have a go" at various netballing skills at the country's Olympian City complex, designed to inspire them about the game.
The future of European netball appears rosy, after some hotly contested matches at this week's Netball Europe U17 championships, played in Hull, UK. In the Championship section, England dominated once more, lifting the title ahead of Scotland with Wales in third place and Northern Ireland. However some new names took part in the development section, which was won by Switzerland, with Gibraltar second and Malta third. Dubai competed in the competition as an invitational side and won three matches from three played.
Another international star has joined the UK's Netball Superleague, with news that Surrey Storm has signed South African international Bongiwe Msomi ahead of Saturday's top of the table clash with league leaders Manchester Thunder. The 27 year old midcourter was part of the Spar Proteas side which featured at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and is expected to take to the court for this weekend's game.
In Pakistan, the 14th National Womens Netball Championship 2015 will be held at Hamidi Hall, Islamabad from 28-31 March, in collaboration with the Pakistan Netball Federation and Pakistan Sports Board. Sindh, the defending champions, will face stiff competition from sides including Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Wapda, Balochistan and Islamabad, as 16 teams compete for the cash prizes, worth Rs 100,000 (approximately $US 1,000).
In the ANZ Championship, West Coast Fever survived their first defence of the competition's new Challenge Trophy, with a 67-51 victory over the SKYCITY Mystics in Perth this week. In a new initiative for the 2015 season, Fever became the first team in the competition to hold the Challenge Trophy, after being named the inaugural holders via a ballot draw, which the holder defends during home matches. For more news about the competition, and match results, please visit www.anz-championship.com.