Netball in Australia

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Netball in Australia
Netball allibons.jpg
A Netball game held in Australia
Country Australia
National team Australia
Nickname(s) Diamonds
Registered players 360,000

Netball is the most popular women's team participation sport in Australia.[1] In 1985, there were 347,000 players.[2] In 1995, there were over 360,000 Australian netball players.[3] Throughout most of Australia's netball history, the game has largely been a participation sport; it has not managed to become a large spectator sport.[4] In 2005 and 2006, 56,100 Australians attended one to two netball matches. Of these, 41,600 were women.[5] 46,200 attended three to five netball matches, with 34,400 of those spectators being women.[5] 86,400 attended six or more netball matches, with 54,800 spectators being female.[5] Overall, 188,800 people attended netball matches, with 130,800 being female.[5] In 2005 and 2006, netball was the 10th most popular spectator sport for women with Australian rules football (1,011,300), horse racing (912,200), rugby league (542,600), motor sports (462,100), rugby union (232,400), soccer (212,200), harness racing (190,500), cricket (183,200) and tennis (163,500) all being more popular.[5] The country set an attendance record for a netball match with a record crowd of 14,339 at the Australia–New Zealand Netball Test held at the Sydney Super Dome game in 2004.[6]

A black-and-white photo of a netball team. All the girls in the picture are school aged, wearing white and have their netball skirts on.
Toowoomba netball team, 1932.

Netball, at the time called "women's basketball" (distinct from the form of basketball played by women), was introduced to Australia reportedly as early as 1897,[7] although most sources agree that it was established in that country around the start of the 20th century.[8] Interstate competition began in 1924, with the All-Australia Women's Basketball Association formed in 1927. An All-Australian Tournament, later called the Australian National Championships, was first contested between states in 1928, when it was won by Victoria.[9] During the 1930s in Australia, much of the participation in netball at universities was not organised and players were not required to register.[10] It was believed that this was a positive for netball as it allowed people to participate who might not have participated otherwise.[10] Australia's national team toured England in 1957.[11] This tour resulted in a number of Commonwealth countries meeting together in order to try to standardise the rules of the game.[11] The sport's name "netball" became official in Australia in 1970.[12][13] In Australia 80% of all netball played is played at netball clubs.[3] The number of netball clubs around Australia has been in decline since the 1940s.[14] Between 1985 and 2003, only two Western Australian towns decreased the distance that netball players had to travel in order to compete; these towns were Brookton and Pingelly.[15] Prior to the creation of the ANZ Championship, the National Netball League was the major competition in Australia.[16] It included teams from the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.[16]

For netball players 18 years and older, their demographic profile is 18 to 24, unmarried, Australian-born and employed full-time.[1] The average netball player in New South Wales has played the game for 10.8 years.[17] Most New South Wales based school aged netball players play for school and friends.[17] Girls from non-English speaking backgrounds were more likely to play for fun than their English speaking counterparts, who often played for school or parents.[18] Non-English speaking girls were less likely to have mothers who played netball, 18.2%, compared to 35.2% for their English speaking counterparts.[18] Most New South Wales based adult players played netball for fun and for the physical benefits of the sport.[18]

The country has hosted several major important international netball events including:

The Australian national netball team is regarded as the most successful netball team in international netball. It won the first world championships in 1963 in England,[13] and nine of the twelve Netball World Championships. In addition to being the current world champions, the Australian Dimaonds are ranked first on the IFNA World Rankings.[22]

Australia beat the Silver Ferns to win the World Youth Netball Championships in July 2009 in the Cook Islands.[23] Australia also has a men's national team. It has competed in the 2009 and 2011 International Challenge Men’s and Mixed Netball Tournament.[21]

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