Netball has received international sporting recognition this week, with the announcement that the Mission Foods World Netball Championships (WNC) Singapore 2011 took the top prize in the Brand Presentation category at this week's International Sports Event Management Awards (ISEM) 2011 dinner. The Mission Foods WNC 2011 beat off some stiff opposition to take the prize, ahead of the AFC Football World Cup 2011, World 9 Ball Championships, the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat and Emir Cup 2011 and scooped the first prize for the best use of sports event branding to drive consumer awareness, customer loyalty and establish a positive brand image in the minds of the spectators. And there was further cause for celebration when the WNC was also awarded the Silver, runners' up, award in the Event Look category, just behind winners the UEFA Europa League Final 2011, one of the world's biggest annual sporting events.
Champions in Singapore, the Australian Diamonds have continued their winning ways on the court, establishing an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the Holden Netball test series against world number three England. The host nation sealed the series with a 67-36 victory over the young, inexperienced England side in Canberra, Australia's third largest score ever against England, having taken the first test 62-47 in Newcastle. The final game in the three match series is to be played in Sydney this weekend, before Australia's attention turns to three tests against Commonwealth champions New Zealand to be played at the end of the month. However, the Diamonds will be without their midcourt dynamo and captain Natalie Von Bertouch after it was announced that she will miss the entire autumn international season with a stress reaction in the sesamoid bone of her right foot. Catherine Cox will retain the captaincy for the remainder of the England and New Zealand series.
Meanwhile, new Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander already has one eye on the upcoming World Netball Series, to be played in Liverpool in November, and has named an Australian squad blending youth and experience to take part in the competition. The full Australian FastNet squad is: Emily Beaton, Kate Beveridge, Ashleigh Brazill, Rebecca Bulley, Bianca Chatfield, Carla Dziwoki, April Letton, Susan Pratley, Verity Simmons, Amy Steel, Vanessa Ware and Amorette Wild. The World Netball Series takes place from 25-27 November: for further information, please visit www.worldnetballseries.com.
The Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) has announced that plans to host a three test series against world number 2 New Zealand in early 2012 has been shelved for the time being. JNA President Marva Barnard acknowledged that, with the Sunshine Girls currently in the throes of a rebuilding programme after the Singapore World Championships, the Jamaican side would not provide a proper test for the Silver Ferns at this stage. Shooting sensation Romelda Aiken and six other senior internationals have indicated that they are taking a break from the international game and would not be available for the planned test series. Instead, Jamaica's young players will focus on preparations for the World Netball Series and it is hoped that the tests against New Zealand can be rescheduled for some time in the near future.
Waimarama Taumaunu has been appointed as head coach for the Silver Ferns for the next four years. Taumaunu, a former New Zealand captain and most recent assistant coach to Ruth Aitken, will take charge of the Ferns for the upcoming international series against Australia, after Aitken was forced to withdraw for family reasons.
The first ever South Asian Beach Games reaches a conclusion this weekend in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. Eight Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and the host nation – have played a roundrobin competition throughout the week, which also aims to bring netball to a new audience across the region. The final will be played later today (Friday).
Former English international Tracey Neville has been named as the new Director of Netball at Northern Thunder, the north west based franchise in the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague. Neville, who was head coach at Team Northumbria last season, won more than 80 international caps during her playing career, and will lead the team out for their first fixture of the 2012 season at a new home venue. Northern Thunder will now be based at the Wright Robinson Sports Village in East Manchester, which is to become the new national performance centre for players in the North West.
Remaining in the North West of England, netballers are mourning the death of inspirational coach Mike Greenwood, who died last weekend. A tough talking and skilled tactician, Greenwood founded Oldham Netball Club 25 years ago, and during his coaching career, the club's juniors won 40 national age group championships, while the senior first team plays in division one of the UK's National Premier League. He coached Northern Thunder in the Super Cup for a season, and returned to the franchise in 2008, taking them from the bottom of the table to a second place finish in 2011. He also coached England's U17s and U19s in home internationals and European championships and it was estimated that all matches (if not teams) in the UK Premier League had at least one player he had coached on court last weekend.
For more information about netball around the world, please visit www.netball.org
photos Janos Schmidt