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Netball - 27. February 2015.

Netball News from around the World by Rona Hunnisett

Malawi’s Queens netball side has been involved in some key humanitarian work this week, conducting outreach activities in partnership with UNICEF to assist those displaced by the recent heavy flooding in the south of the country. Coach Mary Waya and the players visited the Bangula region this week, and provided coaching support as well as playing a demonstration game involving pupils from the recently established temporary school in the refugee camp. Balls and other playing equipment, provided by UNICEF and the INF, were presented as part of the visit, and the players answered questions, signed materials and discussed health education messages with the hundreds of children who took part in the activity. Waya also identified five young players with potential to join her development academy, and she will remain in contact to monitor their progress in the coming months.

The world’s leading club competition, the 2015 ANZ Championship gets under way this weekend with a new playing format, when the Adelaide Thunderbirds host the Kia Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. The traditional league ladder will be replaced by stand-alone Australian and New Zealand Conference ladders, with teams ranked during the season within their individual conferences, based on points accumulated. At the conclusion of the regular rounds, the top three teams from both the Australian and New Zealand Conferences will progress through to the finals. In addition, a Challenge Trophy competition has been introduced to bring extra competitive edge: West Coast Fever will be the inaugural holders of the trophy, following a draw, and will defend the silverware at its home games in Perth, starting in round two when they host the Skycity Mystics. Once a visiting team defeats the trophy holders, it is theirs to defend against all challengers in every home game during the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Trans-Tasman Netball League (TTNL), which operates the ANZ Championship, has announced Shirley Hooper as the new Board Chair for a two year term. Hooper is Netball New Zealand’s representative on the TTNL Board, and replaces Netball Australia’s Pam Smith, who completes her two year tenure as chair this month and will revert to a position as board member.

Netball Jamaica’s Berger Paints Elite League will start its second season on 13 March, following the player draft, which takes place next Wednesday (4 March). The six team competition, which replaced the Berger Superleague, features the top 72 players in the country in six teams, playing in a round robin format before the top four teams progress to play offs and a grand final. The intention is to provide regular high level competition for the country’s elite players, as well as give national selectors the opportunity to assess potential combinations ahead of key competitions such as this summer’s World Cup. Last year’s competition was won by the Kingston Humming Birds.

In the Cayman Islands, new national technical director Andrea Gumbs has introduced a weekly player of the match award for the national netball league, which resumes this week. The competition, which features nine teams, will see UCCI face All Stars A and Socialites playing Lights International, with All Stars established as favourites for the league, after the non-appearance of reigning champions Roma. Gumbs, a former player, coach and international administrator in England has established a new scoring system for the league, as well as establishing a junior programme for primary schools and developing the Turtle Netters junior club, which meets on Saturday mornings.

Netball Samoa will resume its search for new talent with trials being held for potential internationals this weekend, following a similar visit to Sydney recently. Samoa is currently struggling to develop new players on home soil, due to a lack of suitable facilities, so coach Marcia Hardcastle has turned to overseas-based players with a Samoan heritage to strengthen the country’s playing squads.

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