When we reflect on 2019, we should be filled with great pride as so much has been achieved throughout the year. Netball continues to grow in many ways; welcoming new members, gaining recognition and continuing to make important strides in all our three key strategies – Governing with Integrity, Empowering through Netball and Thrilling World Class Events.
The INF won Silver at the Sports Business Awards 2019 in May. Up against 6 other governing bodies, the INF scooped the silver award for Best Sports Governing Body Initiative highlighting our work over the past year in developing the sport and the federation through the Netball 2020 strategic plan.
The Netball World Cup was held in July, in Liverpool, England. The netball competition did not disappoint and culminated with the Silver Ferns meeting their rivals, the Australian Diamonds in the final, with the Silver Ferns winning the world champion title for the first time since 2003 and back home the nation celebrated.
Prior to the start of the Netball World Cup 2019, we held our INF Congress where our members met with the Board of Directors to review progress and determine priorities. Not only was this Congress the biggest yet with 43 countries represented, but we also heard from guest speakers such as Sharni Layton, former Australian Diamonds player who gave an inspirational talk to members about the importance of keeping player wellbeing at the heart of decision making.
Elections took place at Congress for the INF Board of Directors. Wainikiti Bogidrau was elected as Director for Oceania, Lyn Carpenter was elected as Director for Europe and Marva Bernard, OD was elected as Director for Americas. I was also elected as President of the INF, as the Hon. Molly Rhone, OJ, CD stepped down after 16 years. We said goodbye to four other Board Directors, Tina Browne, Oceania, Janet Wrighton MBE, Europe, Dr Patricia Butcher, Americas and Tebogo Lebotse Sebego, Africa. I thank them sincerely for their exceptional service to netball over the years.
It’s been a year of change in our Governance structure as in June the INF announced its new appointment of its Medical Committee and I’d like to thank Dr. Shuaib Manjra and Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse who stepped down and thank Dr. Grace Bryant OAM for taking over as chair.
On the eve of the Netball World Cup, our charitable campaign, Creating Choices was launched. The campaign aims to bring together netballers from all over the world to raise resources to support our continued commitment to empowerment, providing choices, opportunities, connections and community through netball.
Throughout the World Cup, we held our INF Congress Workshops for members to attend as well as a ‘Make the Game LIVErpool’ education programme delivered by the INF’s Coaching Advisory Panel (CAP).
Following the increase in the profile of the sport and the INF’s commitment to developing and improving its world-class standards in officiating for international events, the INF launched its World-Class Officiating identity and kit in September. The world’s first study of international umpires also began at the Netball World Cup 2019. By understanding umpires at elite levels, the findings will be able to provide a framework for umpires at all levels to get the support and structures they need to improve in the future. This continues to be a priority.
In 2019, 1 International Umpires’ Award (IUA) and 2 International Talent Identified Umpire (ITID) have been awarded. In addition, 9 IUA were successfully re-endorsed.
As the sport continues to grow around the world, so does the membership of the INF. In 2019, the INF saw Norfolk Island and Tokelau become associate members and St Kitts & Nevis, Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania became full members taking the INF membership to a total of 73.
After a massive increase in its profile since England Netball’s, gold medal win on the Gold Coast in 2018 and England’s hosting of the Netball World Cup in July, it was announced that the sport will be moving from the Coventry Indoor Arena to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. This increase in capacity will meet the growing demands of netball fans who want to enjoy the sport in the summer of 2022 and demonstrates the growth of the sport over the past year.
Netball continues to grow from strength to strength at the grassroots with many amazing development schemes creating opportunities worldwide. We are extremely grateful to all our Regional and National Federations and the huge number of their members and volunteers who give so much time, skill and energy to ensure netball is active within their communities and regions, delivering benefits to the health and wellbeing of our participants.
In the final quarter of 2019, the newly elected INF Board met for the first time to discuss the INF’s new strategic plan and priorities which will be launching in 2020. We made very good progress and will meet again in March 2020 and soon after will be ready to share our proposals with members.
2020 is set to be another extremely exciting year for world Netball as we start the journey towards the Netball World Youth Cup and Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021 with qualifiers taking place for the World Youth Cup throughout the year.
I am extremely proud of everything that Netball has achieved in 2019. In 2020 we must build on this and I hope that we will work together, learn and share to release more of our collective potential to grow in the global sporting arena. I am grateful for the opportunity as your President to lead the INF and am excited to see what 2020 holds for Netball and the future of our great sport.
I wish you a very happy festive season and a successful year ahead.
With my very best wishes.
Liz Nicholl, CBE
International Netball Federation