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Netball News from around the World By Rona Hunnisett
Nearly 800 players from 41 districts across South Africa are currently taking part in the SPAR National Netball Championships, which have been taking part at the BelvilleVelodrome in Cape Town since Monday. The tournament is divided into A, B and C-sections, but the main focus is on the A section, which features many of the country’s elite players, as well as emerging talent which Netball South Africa will be spotting for inclusion in future national sides. In a hotly contested tournament, a number of surprise results have been registered, most notably the defeat of tournament favourites Gauteng North by the young Dr Kenneth Kaunda team during the group stages of the competition. Both teams remain on course to meet again in the final, with the Kenneth Kaunda team remaining undefeated with one round of matches to play. In the penultimate set of games, Kenneth Kauda defeated Frances Baard 63-28 and Buffalo City 53-25, while Gauteng North stunned Umgungundlovu 75-26 before handing defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) their second defeat of the week 74-44.
However, the tournament has been overshadowed by a minibus accident which occurred last Sunday, in which the vehicle transporting the Sedibeng team to the competition overturned after the driver lost control. One player sustained a neck fracture in the accident and has been left paralysed as a result, with only limited use of her arms. Netball South Africa is doing all it can to assist her, and her family, as well as others injured in the accident. The thoughts of all at the INF are with her at this time.
Across Africa, Botswana has started its preparations for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers which take place in September, by hosting a tour by the England U19 side. In addition to matches between Botswana’s national side, England coach Jan Crabtree and her assistant Denise Ellis have also assisted Botswana’s coach with video analysis to help him develop his own skills and encourage improved results from his side in matches to come.
Following the side’s fifth place at the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Malawi Queens have been invited to take part in test matches against England and Jamaica in the run up to the Netball World Cup in 2015. The England series will take place in December, but dates for the games against the Sunshine Girls are still to be confirmed.
Tickets have gone on sale for the autumn internationals between Australia, New Zealand and England, to be played in the Southern Hemisphere. But the Silver Ferns will be without one of their most experienced defenders for the matches, as Anna Harrison withdrew from selection this week after announcing that she is pregnant with her second child.
In New Zealand, Janine Southby, who coached the country’s U21 side to the World Youth Championships title in Glasgow last year, has been named as coach for the FastNet Ferns for the World Netball Series in November. Southby has also been named as coach of the Southern Steel in the ANZ Championships, after signing a two year deal, and will be joined at the franchise by three new young signings for the 2015 season. Defender Jane Watson and shooter Sophia Fenwick, who have both played for the Tactix for the past three years, will move south next season, where they will be joined by former Waikato-Bay of Plenty shooter Brooke Leaver, daughter of former Silver Fern Leonie Leaver. In another move which could benefit New Zealand’s shooting stocks longer term, it was announced that Australian age-group shooter Ameliaranne Wells has signed with the Central Pulse for the coming season, and will play as a local, courtesy of her father’s Kiwi nationality.
Nearly 40% of parents of girls report their daughters being inspired to take up a sport after watching professionals in action.