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Netball: a team sport like basketball

Netball: the story of a sport for women

Popular in Australia, New Zealand and the Commonwealth, netball is a sport similar to basketball, played by two teams of seven players each and practised mainly on a female level.

The origin of this famous team sport in Anglo-Saxon countries is linked to the history of basketball: netball was invented two days after basketball, in 1891, when the colleagues of James Naismith, teacher and inventor of basketball, created a game similar to basketball but designed exclusively for girls.

However, as we know it today, netball took shape only four years later thanks to New Orleans PE teacher Clara Baer, who used Naismith’s basketball rules as the basis to create the handbook for the new sport and standardize in a single document the different regulations that had been applied until then. The netball rules were not the same for everyone: in the beginning, some teams played with nine athletes, while others with five.

In Europe, the first netball game was played in England in 1985 at Madame Ostenburg’s College, but it was in the first half of the 20th century that interest in sports grew to such an extent that it became popular in many British Commonwealth countries.

During the following years, and more precisely in 1957, the need to introduce further improvements to the regulation brought the representatives of the teams of England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies to meet in Sri Lanka and form an international women’s netball organization: the International Netball Federation (INF), born in 1960, based in Manchester, United Kingdom. In addition to the changes made to the regulations, representatives from different countries decided that the netball world championships would be organized every four years starting in 1963, and the first was hosted in Eastbourne, England.

The Australian national team is one of the great protagonists in the history of netball and won the world title against 11 other teams in 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1991, 1995 and 1999. To interrupt the domination of the Australians was the New Zealand national team that won the gold in 2003.

Today, after the official rebrand announced in June 2021, the INF has become World Netball, and holds 76 national associations grouped in five regional areas (Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe and Oceania), and organises the most important international competitions, including the Netball World Cup and the Netball World Youth Cup.

In 1995, Netball was a recognized sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), one of the goals of World Netball is to encourage the International Olympic Committee to include this sport in the Olympic Games programme in the future.

Netball players and main rules: how is it played?

As we have already said, netball is a sport in which two teams of seven players each challenge each other, by scoring a basket in the middle of the opponent’s field with a leather or rubber ball with a circumference of 67-66 cm.

The measurements of the field, whether indoor or outdoor, are 30.5 meters long by 15.25 wide, with horizontal lines that divide the playing area into distinct third sections. At the centre of the field, there is a 90 cm in diameter circle, while at each of the two ends is a semicircle with a radius of 4.9 m, indicating the scoring areas. At the centre of the bottom line is a 3 m high pole, to which is attached a ring with a diameter of 38 cm through which the teams must try to score.

Each player occupies a precise position within the field and the role she plays is indicated by the initials of the English name visible on the shirt. Only two out of seven players are allowed to score: GS – Goal Shooter and GA – Goal Attack. The other 5 players are those of the GK – Goalkeeper, of GD – Goal Defense, the WA – Wing Attack, the WD – Wing Defense and the C -Center.

Here are some of the main rules of netball:

  • The player cannot move when the ball is in her hand and can only turn around keeping one foot in the same spot;
  • the defender must be at least 90 cm away from the player who has the ball, but can jump up and down trying to intercept the ball;
  • the player cannot hold the ball for more than three seconds at a time;
  • If the ball goes out of the playing field, the team that touched it last gives possession to the opponents;
  • To score, the player (Goal Shooter and Goal Attacker) must throw the ball into the basket ring while inside the shooting area.

The duration of a game of netball is divided into 4 periods, each lasting 15 minutes. After the first and third quarters, there are 3 minutes, while after two quarters the interval is of 5 or 10 minutes.

Netball Academy by Legend: the sports academy of Forte Village

Forte Village, an award-winning resort surrounded by the beautiful Sardinian sea, dedicates one of its sports Academies to netball: the Netball Academy by Legend.

In addition to discovering the secrets and the main techniques of a dynamic and exciting sport, guests of the resort can train with the great English stars of netball: Mia Ritchie, Karen Atkinson, Sophia Candappa, Karen Greig, Pam Cookey, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Tamsin Greenway and Rachel Dunn.

The academy is structured over five days, from Monday to Friday, with two-hour morning sessions. All participants will be provided with the official kit of the Netball Academy which includes a t-shirt, shorts, backpack, socks and cap.

The sports academies are one of the strengths of the Forte Village offer where there is space for all kinds of sports: from football to freestyle football, box and fencing, also swimming, tennis, golf, chess and many more.

Do you want to discover the secrets of netball and have a dream holiday in a true paradise? Discover the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia

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