The UK's Fiat Netball Superleague got under way this week with a repeat of last season's Grand Final between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks. With several leading names missing from the Mavericks line up for the 2012 season, this time the honours went to Storm, 62-47. Northern Thunder impressed in a 57-36 win over Yorkshire Jets, while Celtic Dragons overcame former champions TeamBath 61-49. In the final match of the first round, Loughborough Lightning withstood a spirited challenge from Team Northumbria to take the win 49-44.
Mwayi Kumwende, Malawi's first professional netballer, has been delayed from returning to Australia to meet up with her Penninsula Waves club colleagues by visa complications. Kumwende, who had an outstanding first season Down Under, had hoped to join the club's pre-season training programme in mid-January, but the Malawian international has been delayed by official red tape and has been forced to start her season's preparations back home.
Two other Malawian netballers – Joyce Mvula and Beauty Chirwa – are still expected to take part in the Tanzanian National Championships as part of the Filbert Bayi side, once parental approval has been received by Netball Association of Malawi to issue clearances to play. However, another Malawian, Takonda Lwazi, has declined the invitation to take part in the competition as she has accepted a post by the Malawi police.
Preparations for the 2012 ANZ Championships are now well under way, with all ten teams confirmed for the official pre-season tournament to take place in Tauranga, New Zealand from 1-4 March. This is the first time that the full ANZ line up will take part in the pre-season competition. Meanwhile, the Canterbury Tactix have confirmed that they will host their own pre-season tournament on 11 and 12 February, featuring the Southern Steel as well as the Tactix Accelerant squad, Canterbury men's team and club side Eastwood Ryde from New South Wales.
Netball New Zealand has signed a three year agreement with Canterbury of New Zealand to provide all match and training gear to the Silver Ferns as well as to all the Netball New Zealand national squads and umpires. Canterbury, supplier to the SilverFerns from the mid-90s until 2006, replaces Adidas as the association's kit provider. The Silver Ferns' new competition dress will be unveiled in October.
Trinidad and Tobago Netball Association concludes a talent identification programme this weekend, after scouring the national competitions for players in the U16 and U21 age groups as well as for the senior squad. As part of the process, they will visit the Guapo Point of Port Fontin tournament, a new competition which has been introduced to reintroduce netball to south Trinidad – more than ten teams have registered to take part.
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