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Netball - 22. April 2011.


South African netball has taken a step towards professionalism this week, with the announcement of a new competition - the Netball Grand Series (NGS). Conceived and developed by former Proteas captain Dr Eljse Jordaan (pictured in action against New Zealand), the competition will replace the current National Netball League (NNL) and will feature eight regional teams: the Black Diamonds (Gauteng Central and West), Stalight Jets (Gauteng Ekurheleni, Mpumalanga and Gauteng Vaal), Galaxy Blues (Gauteng North and Limpopo), Red Kestrels (North West), Lightning Roses (Free State and Griqualand West), Kingdom Queens (KwaZulu-Natal and Ethekweni), Ibhayi Gales (Nelson Mandela Bay and the Western Cape) and Western Storms (Western Province and Boland). A schools competition, featuring 48 teams (eight from each region) will run concurrently with the NGS, with schools matches played as curtain raisers to the league games. It is hoped that this will enable talent identification and provide a development path for young players to the U21 South Africa squad.

Offering a rare opportunity for Botswanan netballers to watch international netball on home soil, the Botswana Netball Association has announced it will host a tri-nations tournament from 30 April to 1 May to include Singapore and South Africa. A sprung wooden court has been obtained from the South African Netball Association - something which many Botswanan netballers have only encountered for the first time when playing at the World Championships.

England's netballers arrive in Jamaica this weekend for a three match test series against the Sunshine Girls as both sides prepare for this summer's World Championships. But the home side may well be without their playmaking captain Simone Forbes, after Jamaica's national press reported this week that she had recorded an "adverse analytical finding" in an out of competition drugs test. Forbes will now be required to state her case before a hearing of Jamaica's Anti-Doping Commission and could miss both the England test series and the World Championships. While unable to comment freely on the matter, Jamaica Netball Association President Marva Bernard has confirmed that the organisation is offering all possible support to Forbes and the Sunshine Girls.

And in another blow to the Jamaican side, it was announced this week that experienced defender Kasey Evering has reinjured her surgically restructured left knee while playing in the ANZ Championships, and will miss this summer's World Championships while undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme.

Former Samoan international Cathrine Latu has been provisionally named in the New Zealand squad for the World Championships. But her inclusion will be subject to an appeal by Netball New Zealand (NNZ) to the International Court for Arbitration in Sport: IFNA rules state that players must serve a four year stand down before switching international allegiance. Latu played for Samoa in the 2007 World Championships. However, NNZ has cited the switch of Vilamaina Davu from New Zealand to Fiji ahead of the 2007 competition as a precedent which demonstrates that Latu has a right to be included in the Silver Ferns squad. Experienced defender Joline Henry has also been named in the squad, despite missing much of the current ANZ Championships season, but must pass a medical assessment before competing. The full New Zealand squad is: Leana de Bruin, Temepara George (vice captain), Katrina Grant, Paula Griffin, Joline Henry (subject to medical approval), Laura Langman, Leana Leota, Cathrine Latu (subject to eligibility approval), Anna Scarlett, Maria Tutaia, Irene Van Dyk, Casey Williams (captain),

Australian international Simone McKinnis has tendered her resignation as coach of Tanzania's international squad, following a troubled four month stay in the country. McKinnis had previously discussed problems with payment timings and failure to honour other areas of her contract with government representatives.

England retained the Netball Europe championships in the Open, U19 and U17 age groups, despite fielding an experimental side in the Open section, which was designed to test the strength in depth available to coach Sue Hawkins. All three sides were undefeated across the weekend's competitions.

For more information about netball around the world, visit IFNA's website at www.netball.org

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