This week in netball: Fast5 showcases UK talent, Africa Pent Series and Vixens fined
ANOTHER huge week in netball has come and gone, with plenty happening both on and off the court once more.
In huge news off the court this week, the Melbourne Vixens have been fined over their failure to travel to Perth for their Round 8 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) fixture against the West Coast Fever. While it was concluded that the players’ actions, which included traveling to northern NSW, were not in breach of the rules, it unfortunately left the team in a position where the players in question could not travel to Western Australia in early June for the scheduled match. The Vixens were handed a $50,000 sanction – with $25,000 suspended for two years – by Netball Australia and the Suncorp Super Netball for the non-deliberate breach of the SSN Team Participation Agreement (TPA), and an additional fine of $31,702.92 for costs incurred by Netball Australia for the rescheduled match at Nissan Arena.
The UK’s British Fast5 Netball All-Stars tournament took centre stage this week, with plenty of exciting action setting the tone from the starting whistle and not letting up. Team Bath collected the silverware for the first time with Saracens Mavericks a close second, while Wasps Netball and Manchester Thunder were the other semi-finalists. Most intriguingly, reigning Fast5 All-Stars and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) champions, Loughborough Lightning, did not make it past the group stage with two losses to their name early forcing them out of the competition.
Staying on the topic of the UK, the 2022 VNSL fixture was announced on Wednesday, with the season set to begin with a blockbuster double opening round on February 5. While the opening Round 1/2 will play at a central venue in Birmingham, franchises will be able to open their doors to fans for home matches once more. The season is set to conclude with a huge finals weekend and grand final on June 5, allowing plenty of time before the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in late July.
The 2021 African Netball Pent Series has begun this week, with world number 24 Namibia hosting world number six, Malawi, world number seven, Uganda, world number 12, Zimbabwe, world number 15, Zambia and world number 39, Kenya. Only Uganda remains undefeated from the five clashes, with neither of its focal goal shooters in participation, while Malawi is a close second with one loss to Uganda blemishing their record.
Elsewhere, former Celtic Dragons head coach Tania Hoffman will head to the ANZ Premiership, offering over five years of coaching experience to the Mainland Tactix in an assistant coaching role with the club. She will also fill the role of Mainland Development Coach overseeing the National Netball League (NNL) performance pathway for Mainland netballers.
“I’ve been so impressed with where the Tactix have taken their game and am excited to see what I can add to the mix,” Hoffman said. “I’d like to be able to bring what I’ve learned overseas to the Tactix and have a point of difference.
“Geographically it’s a challenge with one of the biggest areas to cover but the goal is to see as many netballers as possible from Mainland reaching that level of franchise netball – whether that be with the Tactix or the potential to play for other franchises.
“It’s great to have that real focus on home-grown players. I remember well the era of Canterbury players who went on to play for the Silver Ferns and New Zealand Under-21s, and I’d love to see Mainland’s netballers up there again.”
Back home in Australia, both the Queensland Firebirds and Collingwood Magpies have announced their 2022 training partners, with the Firebirds confirming returnees Hulita Veve and Macy Gardner, while also adding newcomers Charlie Bell and Ashleigh Ervin to the mix at either end. The Magpies have confirmed their first two, with South Australian goaler Nyah Allen rejoining the black and white camp for a third season, and will be joined by sister and defender, Sienna Allen for the first time.
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Picture credit: Matchroom Multi Sport