International netball continues to go from strength to strength this year as we strive to achieve our vision of creating a positive impact on people, particularly women, and their communities, around the world.
In July we staged our first ever Netball World Youth Cup in Gaborone, Botswana, following on from seven years of the World Youth Netball Championships, with our top twenty teams from our five regions around the world taking part.
This was the first International event the INF has ever staged in Africa, as well as the first global International sporting event hosted by Botswana. We were thrilled with the support of the people of Botswana who made this a very special and successful event.
Championing youth netball is of vital importance to us, as is taking netball to our fans in a manner that’s relevant and accessible to them. Through innovative live-streaming, we were able to share with over 3 million fans across the world all the matches as they happened via a host of online platforms, as well as a TV audience of over a million viewers.
This is the first time International netball has taken such an inclusive, digital approach, introducing a whole new and wider audience to our game.
The Netball World Youth Cup followed on from our bi-annual Congress, where our members gather to help us shape the vision and plan for world netball for the next two years. Governing with Integrity is one of our key pillars from Netball 2020, our four-year strategy. Almost one hundred delegates took part and we were honoured that Louise Martin CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation was our keynote speaker, saying of the INF: “It is your generosity, your inspiring and diverse outreach programme, your commitment to communities and empowerment off the court that set you apart as a Federation. This clearly aligns with the core values of the Commonwealth Sports Movement as a whole – creating peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities through sport.”
Empowering through Netball is indeed another key pillar in Netball 2020, and we were thrilled that Ugandan netballer Peace Proscovia was able to join us and share how netball has shaped her life and how it gives hope to young women and girls the world over to fulfil their dreams. Peace moved our audience to tears with her description of her journey and she is a truly fantastic role model and ambassador for our sport. All of Congress, including Peace’s speech, is available to view here.
Netball continues to deliver our third key pillar, Thrilling World Class Events, with the Fast 5 Netball World Series, our shortened, dynamic five-a-side competition taking place in Melbourne, Australia, in October. Australia also plays host to the Commonwealth Games to be held in Gold Coast next April, with the Draw event taking place last month determining the pools for the 12 countries participating in world netball’s pinnacle event.
Uganda has also made history through its stellar rise in the world rankings to earn a place in the Commonwealth Games next year, the first time the country has ever qualified, making for a thrilling competition and showcasing new players to the world.
Many Test Series have taken place around the world this year, as countries strive to rise up the world rankings and earn their place on the world stage. This has had a great qualitative impact on our game, and indeed the players, leading to much closer competitions and more professional opportunities for athletes to forge a career in a sport they love.
International netball is in an exciting phase, but netball at grass roots is just as exciting and our mission remains steadfast: to promote empowerment by working with our Members from grass roots to elite, to provide safe and supportive environments to develop life skills and to sustain growth.
There are ever-growing development schemes powered by our Members taking place all around the world, such as the Pacific Sporting Partnership, funded by the New Zealand Government, helping young people in the Pacific Islands to lead a healthy lifestyle through netball.
We are proud of the positive impact netball is having on the lives of communities around the world and thank all our Members, partners and wonderful volunteers who are ensuring that netball truly is a sport that is a force for good.
The Hon. Molly Rhone OJ, CD
President – International Netball Federation