Netball A Game of Passion
A Great Sporting Contest
There’s nothing like a great sporting contest to bring out the passion in sport and a game between two rival netball nations especially netball New Zealand and netball Australia is one of those.
The fervor of the fans, players and the media reaches boiling point before any game of netball between the New Zealand team (The Silver Ferns) and the Australian team (the Diamonds).
Netball in each of these countries is followed with passion. It’s also a high participation sport, particularly for women and followers of the national teams know the game and its rules. They like their players too and follow their progress.
Although men play netball, it’s mainly played and followed by women in the respective countries.
So what is netball? The closest game to netball is basketball. Netball originated from basketball and the reason it’s quite a different game is due to a mistake. The game was outlined in writing but when the instructions were interpreted it resulted in the same sized court but some significant differences in how the game is played. The main differences between netball and basketball are outlined below.
Sporting contests such as rugby, rugby league and netball in particular are always excessively competitive between New Zealand and Australia. The rivalry is fierce and the media coverage before such an event rises to fever pitch as each side debates in minute detail the players, the coaches, the venue and the history of past encounters.
Each country has its netball heroines and each has a national contest.
For New Zealand news references to the incumbent Silver Fern players goal shoot Irene van Dyk, captain and ace defender Casey Williams dominate the coverage.
For Australia the retired goal keep Liz Ellis currently reports on the game but she's is still a dominant name in netball. Current team members such as shooter Sharelle McMahon and Catherine Cox are often sought out for pre and post match comments.
The game is classified as semi professional and that limits on the amount of money which can be paid to each player. These strong talented women certainly don’t play for the money. They are paid a fraction of what men receive for participation in their chosen sports.
The ANZ Championship
The ANZ Championship is a recent addition to the netball calendar and this exciting competition consists of five teams from each country participating. The teams travel the Tasman (about a 3 or 4 hour flight) to play in the different country throughout the tournament. The tickets for the finals to this event sold out in 12 minutes.
The teams then meet in an international contest – latterly this has been an annual event.
Ticket sales in New Zealand for any netball match between the Silver Ferns and the Diamonds are sold out within hours such is the popularity of this sport.
On match day, excitement mounts at the venue, the milling crowd nervous with anticipation. Older women don the colours of “their team”. Young children (mainly girls) rush here and there, faces painted to show their loyalty. They rush back to their parents if they’ve been lucky enough to catch a smile, and autograph of their heroine. Sponsoring companies offer many free giveaways at such events.
The Silver Ferns win Against the Diamonds
World Netball Championships and Commonwealth Games
Netball became a commonwealth sport and the very first game was played at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Australia has won gold twice and New Zealand once.
Like the World Netball Championships the Commonwealth games are held every four years so it’s a long time to wait to claim back the title if the netball team loses and a long time to hold bragging rights if won!
The next World Netball Championships are in July 2011 in Singapore. The ranks of netball fans will swell the stadiums for sure.
So far international matches between the two countries have resulted in Australia winning 54 and New Zealand 36.
What countries play netball?
According to Wikipedia, over 20 million people play netball in over 70 countries.
According to the International Netball Federation this the current top ten world rankings:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Cook Islands
United States netball has an enthusiastic and growing netball following.
Key differences between basketball and netball
- Players have fixed positions – they can only go into their designated areas
- Only two players can shoot goals.
- Goals are scored from inside the half circle
- Each goals scores one point
- The hoop is small and there isn’t a backboard
- Unlike basketball, there’s no dribbling in netball.
And finally .......
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