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PostSubject: History of Netball   5th March 2008, 5:37 pm



Netball is a non contact sport similar to, and derived from, basketball. It was originally known in its country of origin, the United States, as "women's basketball". Invented by Clara Gregory Baer[1], a pioneer in women's sport, it is now the pre-eminent women's team sport (both as a spectator and participant sport) in Australia and New Zealand and is popular in the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.
History
Netball traces its roots to basketball. Basketball was devised in 1891 by James Naismith for his students in the School for Christian Workers (later called the YMCA). Female teachers got curious and started to formulate a version for girls. The outfits of women at this time hindered them from effectively executing important basketball moves such as running and dribbling, so the game had to be modified to accommodate these restrictions. Women’s basketball, or ‘netball,’ was conceptualized.
Netball was first played in England in 1895 at Madame Ostenburg's College and soon spread throughout Australia, the then-British colonies of Jamaica and Antigua, and indeed most British Commonwealth territories. It did not yet have hard-and-fast rules. So loose were the regulations, in fact, that some games were played by nine players in each team, while some were played with only five players in each. The nets used were also ineffective – they were not open at both ends, so after each goal was scored, the umpire had to retrieve the ball from the top of the post.
In 1895, Clara Baer, a gym teacher from New Orleans, asked Naismith for a copy of the basketball rules. Baer mistakenly identified Naismith's pencil markings showing the areas players should best patrol as the areas within which women players could move, consequently introduced the ‘zoning areas’ we know today. This was the start of netball’s formalization. These zoning rules along with many other provisions (such as elimination of the dribbling rule) were all included in the first draft of ‘Rules for Women’s Basketball.’ In 1901, this set of rules was ratified and netball officially became a competitive sport. However it was several years before regular competitions were held. On the 6th June 1907 an exhibition of 'Net Ball' was organised between the 'Ladies' and 'Gentlemen' of The Regent Street Polytechnic as part of a garden party to celebrate the opening of their sports ground in Chiswick (West London). Poly Netball Club can trace an unbroken heritage back to this match and are therefore seen as the World's Oldest Netball Club
In 1960, representatives from England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and The West Indies meet to discuss standardising the rules of the sport. This led to to establish The International Federation of Women's Basketball and Netball (which later became the International Federation of Netball Associations). Formal rules were established at this inaugural meeting and it was decided to hold World Championship tournaments every four years. The first Netball World Championship was held in 1963 and was hosted by England. Since then there have been eleven more tournaments. Australia has dominated the World Tournaments, beating the other 11 teams competing in 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1991, 1995 and 1999. In 2003, New Zealand finally broke the pattern and took home the gold. Fiji was scheduled to host the next World Netball Championship in July 2007, but was stripped of its hosting privileges as a result of the December 2006 coup.
In 1995 netball became a recognized Olympic sport, making its inclusion in future Olympics possible, and in turn has been included in the Commonwealth Games since then.

Description and rules
Like basketball, the game is played on a hard court or soft court with scoring rings at both ends, and with a ball resembling a basketball (but lighter, smaller and slightly softer in construction, even mainly white). The hoops are of smaller dimension and height in comparison to basketball hoops, though they contain no backboards. The court is divided into thirds which regulate where individuals in each team are allowed to move, and two semi-circular "shooting circles" at each end from within which all scoring shots must be taken.
There are seven players on each team, who are given nominated, named positions. (Some junior/training variants have only five players per team.) Each player must wear a "bib" showing one of the abbreviations below, indicating that player's position. Each player is only allowed in certain areas of the court: a player in a section of court that is not part of their playing area is deemed "offside". The positions are described below:
By the combination of the above, only the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter are able to score goals directly. A ball that passes through the hoop, but has been thrown either from outside the circle or by a player not the GA or GS, is deemed a "no goal". Furthermore, a shooter (GA or GS) may not shoot for a goal if a "free pass" has been awarded for an infringement such as stepping, offside, or using the post.
Netball rules do not permit players to take more than one step in possession of the ball. Consequently, the only way to move the ball towards the goal is to throw the ball to a team-mate. The ball cannot be held by a player for more than three seconds at any time, and players may not tap the ball to themselves more than once ("replay"). This, combined with the restrictions on where one player can move, ensures that everyone on the team is regularly involved in play. Defence is restricted — contact is only permitted provided it does not impede with an opponent or the general play and players must be at least three feet (90 centimetres) away from a player with the ball mean attempting to defend. If impeding contact is made, a penalty is given to the team of the player who was contacted, and the player who contacted must stand "out of play", meaning they cannot participate in play until the player taking the penalty has passed the ball.
Malawi plays Fiji at the 2006 Commonwealth GamesA game is played in four quarters, each one lasting 15 minutes, with intervals of three minutes between the first and second quarters, and between the third and fourth quarters. There is also an interval of five minutes at half time. If a player has an injury, a team-mate or umpire calls time, and the time keeper pauses the timer. When the game starts and the player has swapped places with another player, or is healthy, play is resumed and the timer is restarted.

Court dimensions
A netball court is slightly larger than a basketball court, being 30.5m long and 15.25m wide. The longer sides are called Side Lines and the shorter lines called base Lines. The court is divided into three equal areas. A 90cm-diameter Centre Circle is located in the centre of the court. A 4.9m-radius semi-circle on each base Line is called the Goal Circle. The court lines are not more than 50mm wide. The goal posts are 3.05m high from the top of the ring. The rings have an internal diameter of 380mm and are located 150mm forward from the post. The rings are made of 15mm diameter steel.

Starting and restarting play
When a quarter begins, or after a goal is scored, play begins from the centre of the court with a "centre pass". These passes alternate between the teams, regardless of which team scored the last goal. A centre pass is passed and taken by the Centre player, who must have one foot grounded within the centre circle. As the game restarts, only the teams' Centre players can be in the centre third. When the umpire blows the whistle to restart play, the Goal Attacks, Goal Defences, Wing Attacks and Wing Defences move into the centre third, and the centre pass must be taken by someone who lands within the centre third of the court when they receive the pass. If the ball is not received in the centre third then the opposition receives a "free pass" where the ball was received in the area of infringement. If the ball leaves the court boundaries, then a member of the team that did not touch the ball last restarts play by making a pass from the court linning back into play.

Growth in popularity
Netball is a popular participant sport, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, but also around the world in countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. In Australia and New Zealand, it is the most popular sport played by women, and both countries have a domestic competition for women. The women's game is played internationally at a high level, with Australia and New Zealand undoubtedly the world's strongest teams. Whilst not attracting much public attention, there are representative men's netball teams. Although netball is mostly a female dominated sport, netball needs many technical and physical skills; men use their height advantage to either shoot or defend.
Netball's fundamentals are easy for new players to learn, and it is a common sport at schools in the Commonwealth. At primary home level, mixed teams are not uncommon. As adults, men and women can compete with each other on reasonably fair terms as the restrictions on defence, limitations of numbers and positions of male players, and the women's greater familiarity with the game, prevent men's superior strength and size gaining an overly large advantage.
Netball is still very popular in former British colonies. In fact, approximately 10,000 people play netball in Jamaica, and it remains the favored women's sport in that country with Dayna Kalpagos (Australian) the key player in the league. Antigua and Barbuda is also very active in the sport, with netball less popular only than cricket. It also enjoys popularity in former British African colonies, such as Malawi.



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