Netball in Scotland has seen a huge surge in popularity following last summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with participation levels up by 58% according to figures released by sportscotland, the national agency for Scottish sport, this week. The data shows that, although many sports have seen an increase in participation following the Games, netball has far outstripped its sporting rivals in terms of attracting new members. In addition, Scotland’s Community Sport Hubs have also increased in numbers, meaning that this element of the government’s 2014 legacy plan will also have yielded more clubs and members following the Glasgow games. Since 2010-11, sportscotland has invested approximately £1.5million of lottery funding a year into developing at least 150 hubs across all of Scotland’s authorities by 2016 – there are currently 134 running regular sports programmes including netball. Coaching numbers have also increased across the country, with a 243% rise in level one UKCC coaches since 2010 and a 450% growth in the number of UKCC level two coaches in action across all sports.
South Africa’s Proteas have stepped up their preparations for this summer’s World Cup with an intensive two week training camp in Pretoria, held under the watchful eye of former Australia coach Norma Plummer. Plummer, who coached the Diamonds to World Cup gold in 2007 and 2011, worked closely with new South Africa coach Benny Saayman during the camp to help the squad take their skills to the next level. In addition to introducing new playing drills and match plays, Plummer worked with the players to improve decision making and performance under pressure.
The NSW Swifts and Melbourne Vixens have produced a fitting climax to the ANZ Championship Pre-Season Summer Shootout in Sydney. Considered by many as two of leading ANZ Championship title contenders in 2015, the Swifts denied the Vixens a clean sweep of their pre-season tournament campaign winning an entertaining contest 49-46 at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre. It was played in a finals-like atmosphere and – at times – a finals-like intensity to suggest their two regular season meetings will be contests not to miss. The three-goal result meant that both the Swifts and Vixens finished the weekend with four wins and a loss each. However, West Coast Fever took bragging rights from the Summer Shootout, going through the three days undefeated from their five outings in an encouraging sign for the upcoming season.
Singapore’s Netball Superleague will have new champions for 2015, after reigning champions the Mission Mannas lost to the Tiger Sharks 63-38 in the final phase of round robin games this week. The result left the Mannas in fifth place in the league table, a position which means that they will contest the fifth place play off against the M1 Sunfish this weekend. The Magic Marlins (who beat the Blaze Dolphins 42-37), Sharks, Sneakers Stingrays (who held on for a 48-47 win over the Sunfish) and Dolphins took the top four spots and move into the semi finals this weekend. The Marlins will face the Dolphins in the first semi final, with the Sharks and Stingrays lining up afterwards: the final and third place play off will be held on Sunday.
Reigning champions Manchester Thunder are the only undefeated team in the UK’s Netball Superleague after three rounds of competition, but were pushed all the way to a 48-40 win over Hertfordshire Mavericks. The Hertfordshire side will rue a slow start which allowed the champions to establish an early six goal lead and despite a second half surge and accurate shooting by Louisa Watson (nee Brownfield) in her first Superleague game for three years, former titleholders Mavericks could not close the gap. Elsewhere Surrey Storm were too strong for TeamBath, winning 56-42 while Loughborough Lightning scored its first win of the season with a 58-44 victory over Celtic Dragons. In the final match of the third round, Yorkshire Jets were too strong for Team Northumbria, winning 59-45.
Former Australia Diamonds captain Natalie von Bertouch has been appointed to the board of Netball South Australia. Von Bertouch achieved 76 international caps during her nine year international career, winning gold medals at the World Championships in Auckland in 2007 and Singapore in 2011, and silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (2006) and Delhi (2010).