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Netball - 20. April 2013.

Netball News from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett

Netball South Africa’s (NSA’s) plans to improve its international and domestic playing standards received a boost this week with the announcement that long-time sponsor SPAR is renewing and increasing its sponsorship of the association for the next three years, in a deal worth R20million (approx. $US 2.1 million) .  On the international stage, in addition to supporting the country’s senior international side, the Proteas, SPAR has now extended its sponsorship to the U21 and U19 sides and will also continue to support the country’s national championships.  The company has also become a broadcast partnerfor South African netball through Supersport, which will ensure exposure across the country and throughout Africa.  Meanwhile, it has been confirmed this week that the country’s first elite domestic competition, the Superleague, will be in operation by December – South Africa’s Department of Sport is currently confirming sponsorship agreements ahead of further announcements about the competition.

The Netball Federation of India (NFI) organised the 30th National senior netball championships this week, with women’s and men’s teams from 23 states taking part.  Haryana State took the top honours in both competitions, beating Chandigarh in both finals.  565 players and umpires took part in the competition, which also saw the unveiling of  NFI’s plans to develop the national team ahead of the upcoming Asian Championships. 

Netball Fiji held a successful fundraising drive this week, to assist the national and U21 sides prepare for major tours later this year.  Pledges made at the corporate and friends’ cocktail fundraising event will support the squads in preparation for the country’s defence of its Pacific Netball Series title in Samoa in June, as well as the World Youth Championships in Scotland in August.  Fiji has also announced it will play a test match against Malawi in Australia in October, before travelling to South Africa for a tri-series against the Proteas and Wales.

The UK’s netball superleague resumed this week after the break for England’s internationals against Jamaica, and former champions TeamBath sent out an ominous warning to the rest of the competition’s top tier for the second phase of competition, with a 65-39 win over last season’s runners up, Surrey Storm.  England captain Pamela Cookey was in devastating shooting form for Bath, netting 32 goals from 38 attempts, well supported by her international colleague Kadeen Corbin (25/31) and Asha Francis (8/10).  Meanwhile, reigning champions Manchester Thunder began their bid to reach the play offs from the competition’s second tier with a 48-32 win over local rivals Yorkshire Jets. 

In the ANZ Championships, the Canterbury Tactix netted their first win of the season, and broke a championship record into the bargain, with a double overtime, sudden death 80-78 win over Northern Mystics. Meanwhile, the Southern Steel has unexpectedly axed assistant coach and former Australian international Natalie Avellino this week.  Avellino was the franchise’s co-coach with Janine Southby in 2012, but the pair reverted to a traditional coaching structure this season.

With an eye to the future, the Tactix have announced that seven young Nelson-based netballers will join the Netball Mainland emerging talent programme in its first year, after the new five zone system was introduced to New Zealand in December.  The players, aged 15-18, will receive coaching from Tactix head coach Leigh Gibbs, supported by assistant coach Julie Seymour, together with the franchise’s U23 and train-on squad coaches Nic Kelly and Rachel Parkin.  Netball New Zealand’s emerging talent programme will also be involved with the initiative.

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