Karla News

A Brief History of Netball in Australia

New South Wales, South Australia

Netball has come a long way from it’s early beginnings as basketball in Canada. It has progressed through the years, initially as a gender appropriate sport for women in England during the 1800s, to the globally played, fast paced game that it is today. Whilst still predominantly a womans sport and classed as non-contatct, the inclusion of mixed and mens netball, as well as the increased physicality and level of sponsorhsip and funding supplied, has seen it become more popular with the public and played in a more professional manner.

Whilst English men preferred traditional sports such as cricket, women were keen to give basketball a try. However, with their attire of floor length dresses, button up shoes and restricitve clothing, the game had to be adapted to suit them. The court was split into thirds, there were more players on the court, and a smaller ball was used, The baskets were wet paper bags, and it was the umpires job to retrieve the ball after each goal was scored.

It was soon after this that rules were created and applied, and it became known as netball. Teachers from England taught the sport as they travelled, and it soon became popular. Different regions had their own rules and styles of play. Governing boards in each country were formed, and interstate matches in Australia became a regular occurence. Australia’s first international match was against New Zealand, and a tour was later decided on but postponed due to the second world war. A major event in netball history was when Australia travelled to England in the 1950s, and beat them solidly. Shortly after, an international code of rules was trialled, and in 1960 the first global netball federation formed.

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The first world netball championships were held in 1963 and are subsequently held every four years. It became a Commonwealth Games sport in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, which Australia won over New Zealand, continuing the fierce rivalry that is still present today.

Australian teams competed in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy from 1997, with each team to select a bird as their mascot as they represented grace, and uniforms were changed to tight, brightly coloured bodysuits. Teams from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland competed, with the addition of the Australian Capital Territory a few years later,

Australia now competes against New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman competton, which has been labelled the best in the world. Many players from other countries, such as England and Jamaica, come across to participate in this competition. International matches are common, and professional netballers lives are made easier due to the increased sponsorship provided. It is broadcast on international television, and games are often sell outs.

This ladylike sport has come a long way from bustles and non-contact, to the bodysuits and professionalsim of the athletes today. It continues to grow, and will no doubt continue to be one of the most popuar female sports in Australia for many years to come. (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4156.0.55.001Feature+Article3May%202009)