- Netball around the world
Netball is a popular participant sport in some parts of the world, particularly in countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. According to the IFNA, over 20 million people play netball in more than 70 countries. IFNA member nations are divided into five regional groups: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Netball is a popular women's sport in parts of Africa. Several African nations are ranked amongst the top twenty-five in the world. As of January 2011, South Africa was ranked number six, Malawi was ranked number seven, Botswana was ranked eighteen, Tanzania was ranked twenty-one, Namibia was ranked twenty-fourth and Lesotho was ranked number twenty-five in the world.
In South Africa participation rates are high, with 40% of African girls rating netball as their favourite sport in 2002, although many African girls claiming netball as their favourite sport had never played it. South Africa was part of the 1960 meeting of Commonwealth countries in Sri Lanka that standardised the rules for the game. From 1969 to 1994, South Africa was expelled from competing internationally in netball due to its apartheid policies. During the 1995 Netball World Championships South Africa scored an upset win over New Zealand in pool play and finished second behind Australia. In 2000, New Zealand's national side toured South Africa for the first time, playing three test matches. In 2001, a Tri-Nations Series was launched between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which was also won by New Zealand.
Netball is the most popular women's sport in Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania. In Botswana netball is primarily played by women, with men traditionally serving as officials, coaches and administrators for the sport. There are also a few men-only teams, although many were discontinued in the 2000s in favour of mixed-gender teams. The Botswana Netball Association as founded in the 1970s and is the national organisation responsible for netball in Botswana. Netball was introduced to Tanzania after World War I, when the country was under British colonial rule. All primary schools in the country have a court and children are generally recruited to high level teams at a young age. The Netball Association of Tanzania (CHANETA) was created in 1966 and has been mostly run by women, although men can play a role in coaching. During the 1970s and 1980s, the International Olympic Committee and the British Council promoted netball in Tanzania, but were unwilling to investment money. Economic liberalisation saw the popularity of netball decline during the 1990s, and recent attempts to raise netball's popularity have been slow as sport is culturally more acceptable for men. The Tanzanian national netball team finished in third place at the 2010 Nations Cup.
The IFNA covers 54 nations within the Americas, 13 of which have their own national governing bodies. Each year, the region hosts two tournaments: the CNA U16 Championship and the AFNA Senior Championship. Netball is most popular in Commonwealth countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada. As of January 2011, several teams in the region ranked amongst the top 25 in the world, including Jamaica (4th), Barbados (10th), Saint Lucia (13th), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (20th) and Canada (22nd).
Netball has been played in Jamaica since 1909, mostly at schools and teachers' training colleges. Once graduated the players creating club sides for casual play, expanding the game throughout the country. During the 1930s, the major national competition was the ISSA Cup with seven teams. One of the teams, Wolmer's Old Girls Association (W.O.G.A.), built the first hard netball court in Jamaica. Pancho Rankine, Margaret Beckford and Margarietta St. Juste created the Jamaica Netball Association in 1959 and the organisation became affiliated to the West Indies Netball Board. They formed a national team to compete in the West Indies Tournament that was held in Montserrat in August 1959. In 1960, a member of the All England Netball Association went to Jamaica to coach, lecture and test umpires. Two years later, an English team toured the West Indies, beating Jamaica, Trinidad and the West Indies. In 1967, a team representing Greater London toured Jamaica, winning all their matches on the tour. In 1970, a team of British Students toured the Bahamas and Jamaica. Later that year, Jamaica's national team toured England. The third World Tournament was held in Kingston, Jamaica in 1971. Jamaica's national association protested against South Africa's apartheid policies, banning players who participated in the 1973 English tour of South Africa.
Netball's popularity in the United States increased during the 1970s, particularly in the New York area. The United States of America Netball Association (USANA) was created on 23 May 1992 in New York City. As of 2010, the national organisation has affiliates in 17 states. In 1992 the first national championship was held and in 1995 the USA's first international game was played against England at the Netball World Championship in Birmingham. In 2003, the country was ranked 9th in the world, but due to a lack of test match play they are unranked as of January 2011. Canada has both men's and women's national teams.
Netball is popular in several parts of Asia. The IFNA Asia region includes countries such as Australia (geopolitically considered part of Oceania), India, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. The major regional competition is the Asian Netball Championship. In 1994, the first Asian Youth Championship was held in Hong Kong.
Netball has the highest participation rate of any team sport—male or female—in Australia, but it is not a large spectator following. In 2005 and 2006, netball was the 10th most popular spectator sport for women after tennis. Netball was brought to Australia by English school teachers, with a team having been organised by 1904 at Parramatta Superior Schools. In 1927, a national federation for the sport, Australian Women's Basketball Association, was created. Australia's national team toured England in 1957, which resulted in a number of Commonwealth countries organising a meeting to try to standardise the rules of the game.
In Australia 80% of netball is played at netball clubs, although the number of netball clubs around Australia has been in decline since the 1940s. Currently there are around 350,000 registered players and over 1.2 million total players in the country. Prior to the establishment of the ANZ Championship, the National Netball League was the major competition in Australia. It included teams from the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The Australian national netball team won the first world championships in 1963 in England, and nine of the twelve Netball World Championships to date. As of January 2011, the national team is ranked second on the IFNA World Rankings. The country set an attendance record for a netball match with a crowd of 14,339 at the Australia – New Zealand Netball Test held at the Sydney SuperDome game in 2004.
Women started playing netball in India as early as 1926. The Sports Authority of India and the Government of India has provided funded for the country's youth national team. In 2001 India's national team competed in the fifth Asian Netball Championship in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Important netball competitions held in India include the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and the 7th Asian Youth Netball Championship. The Indian national netball teams best results have been placing sixth at the 2010 Nations Cup and fourth at the 2010 Asian Youth Netball Championship. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number twenty-five in the world.
Netball is the most popular women's sport in Malaysia. The national organisation, the Malaysian Netball Association, was created in 1978< and the sport is part of the national curriculum beginning at year 3. In 1998, 113 districts held netball competitions, and there were 1,718 registered netball teams in the country. In 2001, netball was sufficiently popular in South East Asia for it to be included in the 21st Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia had a national team compete in the fifth Asian Netball Championship in Colombo in 2001. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number twenty-three in the world.
Netball Singapore is the official governing body for the sport in Singapore. It was created in 1962, with 63 registered clubs and now governs 80,000 netball players. The national team competed in its first major tournament in 1967 at the Netball World Championships and sent a team to the fifth Asian Netball Championship in Colombo. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number nineteen in the world.
Netball was first played in Sri Lanka by Ceylon Girl Guide Company at Kandy High School in 1921. In 1927, netball was played at a Government Training College for the first time, helping to spread the game around Sri Lanka. By 1952, Sri Lankan clubs were playing Indian club sides. In 1956, Sri Lanka played its first international match against Australia's national team in Sri Lanka. The 1960 netball meeting of Commonwealth countries to try to standardise the rules for the game took place in Sri Lanka. The Netball Federation of Sri Lanka was created in 1972, before being dissolved by the government in 1983. Sri Lanka had a national team compete in the fifth Asian Netball Championship held in Colombo. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number fifteen in the world.
Netball is primarily played in Commonwealth countries, which were heavily involved in standardising the rules for netball. The Federation of European Netball Associations (FENA), sometimes referred to as Netball Europe, is the governing body for netball in the Europe netball region. The organisation was created in 1989/1990. As of January 2011, the English women's national team was ranked number three in the world, Northern Ireland is ranked number twelve, and Wales is ranked number fourteen. The major netball competition in Europe is the Netball Superleague and features nine teams from all areas of Britain.
In the United Kingdom, netball has traditionally been managed by women. In England, netball is included as part of the physical education curriculum. Its inclusion had been at times controversial; during the 1910s and 1920s, schools worried about the potential negative impact of physical exercise on the health of girls. The Welsh Netball Association (Cymdeithas Pêl Rwyd Cymru) was created in 1945. The WNA is responsible for national championships, Welsh squad selection, international matches, the training and development of players, coaches, and umpires and for the Sport Wales National Centre Netball Academy, Cardiff. The Welsh Netball Association is based in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Like other national associations, the Welsh have created a modified version of the game for children called "Dragon Netball". The rate of comparative participation for netball to other sports differs from key-stage to key-stage (year levels in school) in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, about 1,300 women play competitive netball in club-based leagues.
In Australia and New Zealand, netball is one of the most popular sports played by women. Women's sport in Oceania has traditionally had a very low profile. Despite this, netball is popular in Oceania, with its growth partly because of New Zealand encouraging the game and providing money for the training of coaches, umpires and other netball development needs. Netball is one of the sports at the Pacific Games, a multi-sport event, with participation from countries around the South Pacific, that is held every four years. The popularity of netball is growing amongst men on the island countries in Oceania, because sport is an important way for villages to keep in touch with each other. The game's popularity can also be seen in local languages, where local words have been created to describe it. The Oceania Netball Federation (ONF) is the governing body for netball in the Oceania region.
In New Zealand, netball is the most popular women's participation sport. In 1984, there were 114,210 players and currently there are over 11,000 teams and 120,440 players. The only sport with more players is golf, which has 128,860 male and female players. Ninety-eight percent of New Zealand netball players are female. The sports with the next highest rates of female participation are field hockey and horse racing, both at sixty-four percent. Netball is extremely popular amongst Māori women, who are more active in sport in general than their white counterparts. New Zealand took part in the 1960 netball meeting of Commonwealth countries to try to standardise the rules for the game. New Zealand has a history of netball being a spectator sport with the games being televised on Television New Zealand. The 1999 Netball World Championships final between Australia and New Zealand was the highest rated program ever on New Zealand television. New Zealand also has a men's national team that has competed in the 2009 and 2011 International Challenge Men's and Mixed Netball Tournament. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number one in the world.
The Cook Islands are a major netball playing country in Oceania, with over 1,000 registered members. The game became popular during the 1970s, and is an important sport in the region. The country has participated at several international events including the Pacific Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Netball World Championships, the World Games, the Oceania Netball Tournament, the World Youth Netball Championship, and the International Challenge Men's and Mixed Netball Tournament. Netball has a lot of grass roots support and is an important part of life for many women on the islands. The sport's popularity is partly due to the influence of New Zealand, where Cook Island players have competed for New Zealand's national team. New Zealand worked hard to develop the sport in the country during the 1980s, when they hosted a number of coaching and umpiring clinics. The Cook Islands won the netball competition at the first South Pacific Games (now Pacific Games), held in 1981. In the 1990 Oceania Netball Tournament, the team beat New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji to come in second, behind Australia. As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number eleven in the world.
Women's participation in netball in Fiji is comparable to men's participation in rugby. The sport started to grow in popularity during the 1970s. Fiji was supposed to host the 2007 World Netball Championship, but due to a military coup the IFNA decided to move the championship to Auckland. Netball has a large amount of grassroots support in Samoa. The sport started to grow in popularity during the 1970s. Games in Fiji and Samoa are most often played by girls on Saturdays during the winter, though games can be played at all times of the year. Samoa and Fiji are traditional netball rivals, competing against each other at events like the Pacific Games. As of January 2011, Samoa's national team was ranked number nine in the world and Fiji's was ranked number five.
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