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Netball - 25. November 2012.

Netball news from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett

The USA and Bermuda are to face each other in the first international series to be played on American soil - the inaugural Atlantic Cup -  which is to be played in Palm Beach, Florida on 7 and 8 December.  Although the American side starts the competition as favourites, following their recent defeat of Bermuda at the AFNA Championships, the visitors were the most improved side at that competition and are known to have been in regular training since then.  it is anticipated that the Atlantic Cup will become a regular competition with the hope that more countries from the Americas may be added to the line up in years to come.

Meanwhile, the United States of America Netball Association (USANA) has started an appeal to finance the restoration of the structure of netball in the north east of the country, following the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent freezing snow and ice.  After years of fundraising to establish courts for training and league fixtures, USANA has seen these facilities destroyed and, with no form of public funding, is calling on the world netball community for assistance to restore their facilities.  If you can make even a small donation to help America's netballers get back onto court, it would be much appreciated:  click here http://www.crowdrise.com/unitedstatesofameric - and many thanks from all at USANA in advance for your support.

The Cayman Islands Netball Association has confirmed that it will be sending an U21 team to the 2013 World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow and is also considering sending an U16 national squad on an overseas tour to improve playing standards and increase international experience.  The announcement came as the Association began its 2012-13 open league competition.  The first four games at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex served as pre-season warm up matches, with round one of the regular season starting on 29 November.  Reigning champions All Stars A are the competition’s team to beat.

As preparation for the World Youth Championships, Jamaica has selected a 14 member U21 squad to face Australia U21 in a three match test series this weekend.  The squad, led by Shanice Beckford, also includes Shameera Sterling and Vangelee Williams, who were both part of the senior team which recently took part in the Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland.  Stacian Facey, Sade French, Thristina Harwood, Dhanyel Johnson, Shaunton Matheson, Shantal Slater, Antoinette Stone, Deneen Taylor, Adean Thomas, Khadijah Williams and Melissa Wright.

Future junior Sunshine Girls are continuing to star in the ISSA/Digicel Urban Area Schoolgirl championships, which reached the semi final stages this week.  Defending junior champions St Hughs High face Camperdown, while The Queen's School play Norman Manley High.  Meanwhile, in the senior semi finals, defending champions St Andrew High play St Hughs, while St Catherine face The Queens.  Finals for both competitions will be played next week.

Across the Caribbean, Graydon Sealy Secondary took home their second successive Under-19 netball title when the final of the Powerade Barbados Secondary Schools’ Netball League competition was held on Thursday evening at the Netball Stadium.  The champions held on for a 32-27 win over Springer Memorial Secondary School in a riveting final, ensuring they ended the competition with their unbeaten record intact. Goal shoot Nikita President almost had a perfect evening with 16 goals from 17 attempts, while Shonica Wharton scored 16 from 25.
In sponsorship news, tennis' loss has been netball's gain in New Zealand, with news that premier tennis sponsor Kia Motors has switched its support to reigning ANZ Championship holders Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.  Representatives of the company cited the sustained exposure which is provided by supporting netball as a key influencing factor in the decision to switch sports, compared with involvement in a week-long tennis tournament at the start of the year.

Finally, Malawi's Queens have been rewarded by their country's government following their performances at the recent Fast5 World Netball Series in New Zealand.  Players' expenses are now on a par with those of the national football team, the Flames, after the African nation achieved wins against Australia and England in the six nation tournament.

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