The first three months of 2018 have been particularly busy and successful for International Netball as our sport gains momentum and continues to inspire and enthuse new followers all over the world.
Our first Regional Qualifier for the Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, England took place in Perth, Scotland, in January, and was livestreamed worldwide. Our second will be taking place in the Cook Islands this month with the three remaining Qualifiers taking place throughout the rest of the year, as countries battle it out for 16 coveted places. NWC 2019 was officially launched in Liverpool in January, and the Local Organising Committee is working hard to ensure that it will be our most spectacular tournament ever.
We are thrilled with the response from our Membership and the media to the efforts we making to get Netball out to our fans via live-streaming and social media. Our digital first, content everywhere approach has been so successful that our live-streaming campaign at the Netball World Youth Cup 2017 in Botswana has been shortlisted for the prestigious BT Sports Industry Awards Social Media Campaign of the Year. This is a huge honour for our sport and we look forward to the Awards event which takes place in London later this month.
In February, we marked ten years of world rankings. During that time, the number of countries with a ranking has increased from 22 to 40 – testament to how our game is growing, and thriving, globally. In March, Jamaica beat New Zealand to win the Taini Jamison Trophy – the first time in nine years that the Sunshine Girls have beaten the Silver Ferns. There is no doubt the Commonwealth Games will be more tightly contested, thrilling and evenly matched than ever before.
As Commonwealth Games gets underway this week, we look forward to seeing all 12 nations showcase Netball and bring an even wider audience to our sport. We are particularly pleased to see Uganda Netball Association taking part in their first Commonwealth Games, led by INF Ambassador and Netball role model, Peace Proscovia.
We were honoured to mark International Women’s Day in March by featuring in the Commonwealth Column, read here, championing our sport, celebrating the values we share with the Commonwealth Games Federation and spotlighting the amazing role models we have in Netball. Our elite athletes are such an inspiration to young people everywhere and we are proud that as an organisation we stand tall as a leader in clean sport.
Our Member base around the world is ever-growing and we are delighted to welcome applications this month from Antigua and Barbuda and Ghana Netball Associations for full membership. It is so fantastic to see Netball break new ground in new countries. As always, I am in awe of the amazing commitment given by our incredible volunteers and everyone who works so hard to keep Netball at the top of its game. I thank you all.
Enjoy seeing your wonderful sport in the global spotlight at Commonwealth Games this month in what is going to be such a thrilling world-class event for Netball.