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Netball - 11. December 2014.

Netball News from around the World By Reporter Rona Hunnisett

The 2014 Nations Cup is currently being played in Singapore, with Samoa and Singapore currently at the top of the table. Highest ranked before the competition, Samoa was pushed hard in the first quarter by Botswana, but soon established a 14 goal lead by half time. The second half was a closely contested affair, but Samoa's more disciplined game plan allowed the Pacific side to maintain its advantage throughout to take a 49-34 victory. In other matches, Malaysia defeated Papua New Guinea 52-43 while Ireland found Singapore too strong and slipped to a 47-20 defeat. For more information about the competition, match videos and the latest scores, please visit http://www.netball.org.sg/

In preparation for the competition, Singapore coach Ruth Aitken arranged for Silver Ferns sharpshooter Maria Tutaia to conduct clinics with secondary schools shooters, present the prizes at the Netball Singapore study awards and act as guest speaker at the Nations Cup coaches conference this weekend.

England will face Wales on Sunday in Liverpool after visa issues have prevented Malawi from fulfilling the first tie of the planned three match series between the two countries. The Liverpool fixture should see England's Geva Mentor, recently voted the world's most valuable player, achieve her 100th international cap for her country. England Netball is working with the INF and the Home Office to ensure that the Malawi team can fulfil the remaining two fixtures in the series, to be played in London and Worcester.

Former Australian international Chelsea Pitman is the new face in the Northern Thunder line up for the 2015 UK Superleague season, as the side looks to retain the title it won in thrilling fashion in 2014. England mid-courter Sara Bayman will once again captain the side. Thunder will open its 2015 campaign with a rematch with Surrey Storm, the team which it defeated by a single goal in the last minute of the 2014 Grand Final to lift the title.

Another former international, Samoan Frances Solia, has been appointed as assistant coach of the Haier Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship. Solia, who retired from the game in 2010 after a career which included three world championships and two Commonwealth Games for her country, was selected as part of the World 7 which faced Australia and New Zealand in 2009, and played for both the Pulse and the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic during her ANZ Championship career. In other ANZ Championship news, the Southern Steel has named Wendy Frew as its captain for the 2015 season.

Finally, Netball Australia has introduced an innovative online course aimed at helping umpires achieve their first qualification. Applicants can now complete the Level One online umpire's course via the click of a computer mouse. Australia is the first country in the world to move towards an online education course for netball officials, and it is hoped that the move will encourage more people to move into umpiring. Five modules, featuring videos with Australian Diamonds squad members as well as coaches and umpires from all levels, must be completed in order to qualify for one of the pre-requisites for a national "C" grade qualification. The course costs $25AU to complete, regardless of location. For more information, please visit www.netball.com.au/umpires/australia-leading-way-umpire-training/

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