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Netball - 26. March 2014.

Netball News from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett

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Zanele Mdodana, a member of the South African Spar Proteas squad, is the latest athlete to be named as an ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa.  Mdodana, who works as a sports co-ordinator at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, will be closely involved with the Foundation’s projects across the country,  that aim to improve the lives of young people through sport.  More than 78,000 young people have been supported by 15 sports-based community programmes in the past year.

Fijian club Grasshoppers will tour Australia during April, having been invited to participate in the Intersports Global competition in Brisbane.  The Nasinu Netball Association, which has co-ordinated the trip, is looking to build relationships with other overseas clubs, with a view to encouraging more international exposure for Fiji’s leading  sides and ultimately, improving playing standards across the country.  Meanwhile, trials take place this weekend for to select the 24 members of the 2014 Fiji Pearls squad, which has a packed calendar of internationals ahead.  84 triallists will take part in the selection process to join the squad which will face Northern Ireland and Papua New Guinea in an upcoming tri-series, before the Pacific Netball Series in the Cook Islands in June.  The Pearls will then travel to South Africa in September for a test series, before facing Malawi at home in November.

Several countries have new world rankings this week, after the latest listing was released.  New Zealand move back to the number one world ranking, while Trinidad and Tobago moves up two places to 8th place. Malaysia is now ranked 21st in the world, while Zimbabwe moves up to 24th and Hong Kong to 27th.  For the latest rankings, please visit http://bit.ly/1mkp9lD

England Netball has announced the retirement of its Chief Executive Paul Clark.  Clark, who has been in charge of the organisation for the past eight years, will step down in September.   

Australian netballers will take part in Harmony Day today (21 March 2014), an event which marks cultural respect and inclusivity for all across the country.  Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has lent her coaching skills to a team of politicans and celebrities taking part in an exhibition match at the parliament building in Canberra.  Meanwhile, orange netballs will be used in the weekend ANZ Championships games between the Melbourne Vixens and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, and the NSW Swifts and Queensland Firebirds.  All the officials involved in this weekend’s matches, including table officials and umpires, will wear orange ribbons in support of Harmony Day.

Only two teams remain undefeated after three rounds of the 2014 ANZ Championships season.  The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have defied many who felt their new young line up would find the competition hard going, registering the third win of this year’s campaign 61-57 against the Southern Steel, and are now level on points with reigning champions Adelaide Thunderbirds, who won a thrilling game 50-49 against the NSW Swifts.  There was further disappointment for the Swifts, with the news that Taylah Davies has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament during the second quarter of the match against the T-birds.  Davies, who was named in the Australian 21/U squad this week, suffered the injury during the second quarter of the game – which marked her debut in the ANZ Championships, and is the second Swifts player to suffer the injury this year, after Paige Hadley damaged her knee in training a fortnight ago.

One of Vanuatu Netball’s four playing associations has launched its new season competitions this week.  Shefa Netball Association held a grand opening for its junior and senior league programmes, with speeches from the association’s president and other local dignitaries.  Meanwhile, Vanuatu Netball will be hosting a one day coaching clinic this weekend which aims to improve coaching standards and introduce new thinking to club coaches from across the country.

Finally, netball fans in Canterbury, New Zealand now have the opportunity to choose their favourite moment from the week’s games thanks to the launch of a new YouTube channel.  In a link up with the Crusaders rugby side, the channel will feature fans’ favourite moments from EasiYo Tactix games in the ANZ Championships, as well as Crusaders league matches, which will be selected after a public vote.  To watch the week’s favourite plays log onto www.youtube.com/user/PlayofTheWeekNZ.
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