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Netball - 25. March 2012.

Netball News from around the Globe by Rona Hunnisett

Australian international Mo'onia Gerrard had a key role in this week's Harmony Day (21 March), which celebrates Australia's cultural diversity and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  As an official Harmony Day Hero, Gerrard – the first player of Tongan descent to play for the Australian Diamonds - spends much of her free time working closely with South Pacific and indigenous girls in metropolitan and regional New South Wales to promote healthy and active lifestyles.  This week she has been holding free netball clinics to introduce the game to young players from disadvantaged areas and ultimately hopes to form a team and then  a club for the players she coaches. 

Edith Kaliati has resigned from her position as head coach of Malawi's national side, the Queens, after a career which has seen her serve as team manager and assistant coach to the team before taking over the lead coaching role in 2008. 

Switzerland's netballers had a prestigious supporter at last weekend's Netball Europe U17 championships in Glasgow.  Micheline Calmy-Rey, who stepped down as President of Switzerland at the end of 2011, arrived for the Sunday afternoon award ceremony to support her granddaughter, Oriane, who played wing attack or centre for the Swiss team, which was playing in its first European competition.

England's selectors have named the U21 training squad for the 2013 World Youth Championships, to be held in Glasgow.  Former international Colette Thomson will coach the squad, assisted by TeamBath head coach Jess Garland.  Several of the selected athletes already have senior international experience, and additional players may be added to the group during the year.  Those named are:  Rosie Allison, Stephanie Burt, Sophia Candappa, Eleanor Cardwell, Beth Cobden, Sam Cook, Shaunagh Craig, Amanda Davis, Honor de Winton, Francesca Desmond, Jodie Gibson, Layla Guscoth, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Hannah Joseph, Olivia Mason, Lauren Massey, Jordan Moxey, Rachel Mulloy, Yasmin Parsons, Rachel Shaw, Alice Travis, Kathryn Turner.  The squad competed for the first time last weekend against Wales U21 and emerged 50-39 victors.

Former Northern Ireland captain Hannah Irvine has been named Belfast Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her role in last summer's World Championships, which saw the country reach the competition's quarter finals for the first time.  The 27 year old school teacher has consistently proved herself one of Northern Ireland's top performers and acts as a role model for her pupils and other young players across the country.

Australian captain Natalie von Bertouch returns to on-court action this weekend after eight months away from the game to recover from the removal of a sesamoid bone in her right foot last November.  Von Bertouch will line up for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in trial match against Melbourne Vixens as she looks to gain as much court time as possible before the Thunderbirds' opening game of the 2012 ANZ Championships, against NSW Swifts on 31 March. 

To support the 2012 ANZ Championships, Sky Sports has announced it extend its coverage of netball in New Zealand, by including college netball as part of it's Monday night programming.  In addition, New Zealand viewers will be able to see all 69 matches of the competition across the 17 week season, as well as a new half hour review show, The Netball Show which will sum up the week's action.

Lisa Stanley, head coach of Team Northumbria in the UK's Fiat Netball Superleague, was hailed a hero this week, after preventing a potentially fatal accident as her team travelled to face Loughborough Lightning.  When the team's coach driver was taken ill at the wheel while on the busy M1 motorway, Stanley reacted quickly, taking over controls of the 12 tonne bus and steering it safely to the side of the road.  None of the players or support staff on board was hurt, and the driver was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Finally, congratulations to Urvasi Naidoo, CEO of IFNA, who has been shortlisted in the 2012 Asian Women of Achievement Awards, which champion the contribution made by Asian women across British business, sports, public, cultural, community and political life. Winners in each of the 11 categories will be named at a glittering awards ceremony in May 2012.

For more news about netball around the world, please visit www.netball.org

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