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Netball News from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett
Scotland and Wales will contest the final of the Northern Cup, played in Cardiff this week, after a series of hard-fought matches between the two sides (ranked 12th and 8th in the world respectively) and Singapore (ranked 20th). Wales defeated Singapore 75-28 in the group stages, while the Scottish Thistles defeated the tourists, who were weakened in both games by the absence of several key players through injury, 73-29. Scotland could take a slight mental advantage into the final, having defeated their higher ranked opponents 43-36 in the earlier rounds of competition, but Melissa Walker, the Wales coach, has demanded a renewed effort from her players, leaving the stage set for a thrilling encounter.
In the other tri-series being played in the British Isles this week, hosts Northern Ireland overcame Barbados 44-35 but found Trinidad and Tobago too strong, losing 51-39. In the final match of the series, Trinidad and Tobago held on for a gritty 35-33 win over Barbados.
Netball South Africa has launched the country’s first ever Fast5 Netball National Series, as part of the organisation’s commitment to improve the country’s performances in international competition. The inaugural tournament will take place at the SANDF Kopanelo Hall in Potchefstroom from today (28 February) until 2 March and will feature eight teams from some of South Africa’s strongest netballing regions. Those taking part include Dr Kenneth Kaunda 1 and 2 (North West Province), Gauteng Central, Gauteng West, Gauteng North 1 and 2, Nkangala and a Super Fast5 invitational team, comprising the best players from the country’s other regions.
Papua New Guinea has named the 20 players selected to continue on to the second phase of the country’s new high performance programme. Cheryl Renagi has been recalled to the training group, while Jacklyn Lahari and Alice Tai Gulf have been named at this level for the first time. The squad, which now enters a further eight weeks of high intensity training is: Courtney Abel, Nerrie Adula, Kimberly Alex, Raylene Andrew, Tiata Baldwin, Marypaul Buehler, Shana Dringo, Tau Galewa, Jacklyn Lahari, Marinama Maha, Lua Mavara, Winnie Mavara, Gase Moka, Vili Nopiri, Kilala Owen, Cheryl Renagi, Maleta Roberts, Alice Tai, Japhet Tulapi, Susan Wellington.
Inspirational former Malawi international Mary Waya has travelled to Ethiopia, to undertake training sessions for more than 100 coaches from across the country. Supported by the INF, Waya’s work is focusing on improving coaching standards for the coaches that will take charge of the netball clubs nationwide, with the ultimate aim of boosting performance levels and allowing Ethiopia to compete more effectively in African and world competitions.
Ahead of the start of the new ANZ Championship season this weekend, ANZ has announced the extension of its sponsorship of the competition for a further three years. In addition, the bank has strengthened its support for the development of Australia’s next generation of Diamonds by signing as a major partner of Netball Australia. Under the agreement, the bank will remain the principal partner of Netball Australia’s youth development programme NetSetGO, which targets players aged 5-10. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, broadcaster Sky Television has reached an agreement with Maori Television to feature one ANZ Championship match each week on its Te Reo channel, with Maori commentary.