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Netball news from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett
A familiar face returned to competitive netball this week, when former Australian captain Sharelle McMahon stepped onto court for the Melbourne Vixens in the ANZ Championships for the first time in almost two years. McMahon, who is returning after a serious knee injury, as well as time out to give birth to her son Xavier, inspired her side's surge past the Northern Mystics, as the Australians took a 60-46 victory in their first round encounter. The Kia Magic made an early season statement of intent to become the first team to successfully defend the ANZ Championship crown, looking impressive in their 69-46 win over the Easiyo Tactix. Both the Haier Pulse, who lost 42-49 to the Adelaide Thunderbirds, and the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, who were defeated 59-68 by the Queensland Firebirds, will meanwhile be rueing missed opportunities. In the final match of the first round, the NSW Swifts beat the West Coast Fever 51-45.
Australian netball has received a boost with ANZ increasing its commitment to the sport by becoming the naming rights sponsor of Netball Australia’s junior netball program, NetSetGO! ANZ has enjoyed a long association with the sport, since becoming the naming rights partner of the ANZ Championship in 2008. NetSetGo! is the only grassroots netball programme in Australia, targetting five to ten year olds and incorporating skills activities, minor games and modified matches in a fun and safe environment: last year more than 36,500 juniors (a 23% increase on 2011) took part in the programme. In addition to NetSetGo, ANZ will continue to support local netball clubs through the ANZ Junior Club of the Year programme, which provides weekly cash and equipment grants to selected junior clubs for each round of the ANZ Championship season.
Meanwhile, across the Tasman, Holden has renewed its sponsorship of the ANZ Championship for the sixth successive year. In addition to involvement with the competition, since 2008, Holden has expanded its involvement with netball to include sponsorship of Netball New Zealand and the Silver Ferns, as well as supporting regional centres and grass roots netball.
Score Namibia last week organised an Independence Tournament to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the country's independence. Co-ordinated by volunteers under the Namibia Volunteer Involvement Programme (NAM-VP), which trains and supports local community volunteers to implement sports and recreational activities in their respective communities, the event attracted more than 200 participants. Hage Geingob High School were victorious in the U16 mixed netball competition, while the Divers took first place in the U13 age group. NAM-VP hopes to organise more competitions of this type in the coming months.
In the UK, the Channel Islands inter-insular title was won by Jersey for the eighth successive year, defeating Guernsey 43-25 in the final. Jersey won six of the eight matches played between the two islands, losing only the "B" and veteran's matches. Jersey's Team Jets have benefitted from playing in the English league, facing regular opposition from the mainland.
As Scotland gets ready to host the World Youth Championships later this year, a new club competition has been launched as part of the multi-sport "Edinburgh 7s Festival" which is to be held from 7-9 June at the Meggetland Sports Complex. In addition to three days of competition, the event promises a full festival atmosphere, including live music performances, djs, entertainment, British Invitational Masters Beach Volleyball and access to the Lions Breakfast, to watch the British Lions take on the Queensland Reds. To enter a team, and for more information, please visit www.edinburgh7sfestival.com
Finally, many congratulations to Monica Thandi, founder and chairperson of the Netball Development Trust, who has been nominated for a prestigious Independent Asian Women of Achievement award in the UK. In addition to her working life as a lawyer in London, Thandi's work has introduced netball to more than 2,700 young people in rural areas of Africa and India in the past three years. The winner of the award will be announced shortly - good luck Monica!