Dr Anita Navin, accompanied by staff and students from the University of Gloucestershire and other representatives from the INF, visited Ethiopia this week. The visit was part of the INF programme to introduce netball to the country, as an element of the Inspirations Project from UK Sport. Working alongside the INF's Joan Smit, the group led a "games for understanding"-based programme for 60 trainee and qualified teachers, most of whom had not experienced netball before. After two days, the group had progressed to full competitive games! The visiting students also interviewed the head of the British Commission in Ethiopia and it is hoped that this interview, as well as a feature about the project, will be broadcast by the BBC World Service on International Womens' Day, as part of a broader look at netball across the world.
Fiji's Pearls are currently in New Zealand for a training tour ahead of this year's World Cup. In the first match of their visit, played in Taupo, the Fijian side found ANZ Championship side the KIA Magic too strong, losing 45-79 – this was the first time that a Pacific nation has played against a team from the trans-Tasman competition. The two will meet again on Saturday in Takoroa, while the Pearls also have games planned against a Magic development side, the Melbourne Vixens and a Victoria development side later this month.
As part of the programme incorporating the Fijian visit, a familiar face returned to court this week, although not in a playing role, when Silver Ferns and Kia Magic captain Casey Kopua took part in a coaching session for young players at Tauranga Intermedia School with Magic team mates Jo Trip and Sam Sinclair. Kopua, who has spent the past 14 weeks in a leg brace after knee reconstruction surgery, confirmed that she has resumed gym work and cycling, and is taking part in some of the side's less arduous training sessions, although her return to full court work is not expected during the early rounds of this year's ANZ competition.
The Sneakers Stingrays are champions of Singapore's 2015 Netball Super League (NSL) after a 45-37 win over Magic Marlins in the final at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall at the weekend. The result also means the Stingrays, who finished third last year, claimed the S$6,500 (approx $US 4,700) winner's cheque.Six players — Toh Wan Ling (Blaze Dolphins), Shina Teo (M1 Sunfish), Pamela Liew (Magic Marlins), Nurul Baizura (Mission Mannas), Yasmin Ho (Sneakers Stingrays) and Ang Shi Qi (Tiger Sharks) — each also received S$300 after being named their respective teams' Most Valuable Players.Fijian Alisi Naqiri of the Sharks was named the league's top international player, while Stingray's Goh Seck Tuck took the Coach of the Year gong.
At the conclusion of the competition, Singapore's selectors named the long squad of 21 players from which the final 12 for the South East Asian (SEA) Games and World Cup in Sydney will be selected. Those named for the long squad are: Micky Lin, Chen Huifen, Nurul Baizura, Premila Hirubalan, Charmaine Soh, Kimberly Lim, Ang Shiqi, Shelby Koh, Nur Aqilah, Chen Li Li, Anna Soo, Olivia Flanagan, Pamela Liew, Melissa Teo, Natalie Long, Kwok Shuyi, Jocelyn Ng, Parveen Nair, Toh Wan Ling, Cassandra Soh, Yu Meiling.
, , but were pushed all the way to a 54-51 victory by a spirited Yorkshire Jets squad in a thrilling game. In the battle of the former champions, Hertfordshire Mavericks were too strong for TeamBath, winning 51-34, while last season's Grand Finallists Surrey Storm kept the pressure on the league leaders with an impressive 66-49 win over Celtic Dragons. Loughborough Lightning, led by new coach Karen Atkinson, scored their first win of the season with a 57-48 win over Team Northumbria, with Ugandan GS Peace Proscovia shooting the perfect game with 41 goals at 100% accuracy for Lightning.
Finally, many congratulations to Hayley Gillies, the Community Engagement and Legacy Officer for Netball South Australia and Netball Northern Territories, who has just returned from participating in the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace Youth Leadership Camp. Gillies was one of two Australians selected for the ten day camp, held in South Korea, which brought together 32 participants from 16 countries across Asia and Oceania. She was selected to attend the prestigious camp after being nominated by Netball Australia's International Development Manager, Olivia Philpott, for her work as a volunteer with the Tonga Netball Association (TNA). During 2014, she took time off from her job to become an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD) and spent last year in the Pacific Island nation helping to implement netball programmes that aim to make women more active and lead healthier lifestyles.
photos Janos Schmidt