Netball shines bright at spectacular Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

The 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games was officially launched today following a spectacular Opening Ceremony on Australia’s Gold Coast. The Ceremony featured over 4,400 athletes from 71 countries joining in unison to officially open the Games.

This is the fifth time Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games, more than any other country. Over 35,000 people witnessed the Opening Ceremony at the Carrara Stadium and over 1.5 billion people watched around the world. The Games were officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, on behalf of the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty the Queen.

Netball played a prominent role during the Ceremony.  Netball Australia Coach Lisa Alexander, who led the Australian Diamonds to gold medal success in Glasgow 2014, read out the Coaches’ Oath on behalf of all of the coaches present.

Elsewhere, netball was in the spotlight during the entrances of Team Northern Ireland, Team Malawi and Team Uganda, as Caroline O’Hanlon, Joyce Mvula and Peace Proscovia were selected as the flag bearers for their nations.

Both Caroline and Joyce play their club netball for UK side Manchester Thunder.  Caroline is a dual international for Northern Ireland, also playing Gaelic football, as well as being a part time doctor.

Joyce, who will turn 24 on the final day of the Games, is only the second netball export from Malawi, following Mwai Kumwenda who plays her club netball in Australia.

INF Global Ambassador, Peace Proscovia, will lead the Ugandan She Cranes into their first ever appearance at the Games.

President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Louise Martin CBE, spoke about the unity the Commonwealth represents. She said:

“Today, there is a renewed focus on what our family of nations stands for and who we are.  The Commonwealth is now more relevant than ever before. We have a great opportunity to be the global leader in demonstrating how we can successfully thrive together, as both a deeply diverse yet unified family of 2.4 billion people. It is this unbreakable Commonwealth connection that enables us to have a positive impact on each other and on the world we share.”

Some of Australia’s most decorated athletes carried the Queen’s Baton on its final leg inside the stadium, including the most capped Australian netballer of all time, Liz Ellis.

The Queen’s Baton left Buckingham Palace in London, 388 days ago, visiting every territory of the Commonwealth, before finally making its way to the Gold Coast.

The Ceremony was a vibrant display, celebrating Australia’s past, present and future and shone the spotlight on the Gold Coast, which will host the event for next eleven days.

The first netball match takes place tomorrow (Thursday) with reigning bronze medallists, Jamaica taking on Fiji at 1pm (Gold Coast time).

Follow @IntNetball on Twitter for the latest from the Gold Coast.