Wed, May 22, 2024 11:47 AM

Netball milestone celebrated


Peter Jones

Members of Marlborough’s netball fraternity gathered together yesterday to mark a milestone in the sport’s history.

On May 21, Netball NZ became the first national netball body in the world to reach 100 years of existence, with a nationwide day of celebration designed to highlight the occasion.

A cross-section of Marlborough netball identities were invited to a special morning tea at the Lansdowne Park Hub, designed to mark the centenary in this part of the country.

MNA chair Wendy Trolove and patron Viv Broughton, dressed for the occasion in an old-fashioned gym frock, spoke to the group about what the sport has done for Marlburians, then 89-year-old Barbara Murray, who represented the province in the 1950s, cut a centenary cake.

Dressed for the occasion - Marlborough junior netball co-ordinator Kim Stephens, left, patron Viv Broughton and centre manager Tina Lillie.

Wendy described netball as “a sport that is pretty magical, with the places that it can take you and the opportunities it offers”.

Viv said the gathering at netball’s Blenheim base “felt more like a reunion of old friends”.

“I am sure there will be plenty of memories shared and laughter about how much the game has changed over the years.

“Up until 1924 every town and district played under their own rules, some played seven-a-side and others nine-a-side … New Zealand actually played nine-a-side until 1959.

“It is wonderful to celebrate this occasion … it is great to think that we have got there and we that have also got [Marlborough’s centenary] coming up in another few years.”

MNA chair Wendy Trolove addresses the gathering.

From humble beginnings the sport has become a big part of the country’s sporting fabric.

In 1922, the four original associations of Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago drove the initiative towards forming a national association which came to fruition in May 1924 with the inauguration of the New Zealand Basket Ball Association. The colours of black with a silver fern emblem were adopted.

Coming into step with the rest of the world and changing to the seven-a-side version of the game in 1959 was the catalyst for huge growth in the game.
In 1970, New Zealand became the last country to adopt the name “netball”, which until that time was still referred to as “women’s basketball”.

The rise of the national team, marketing expertise, indoor stadiums and television coverage followed, with netball now a major part of the country’s sporting landscape.

Key events/activities included in the 2024 NNZ Centenary celebrations include: the launch of the Netball New Zealand Hall of Fame, a NNZ Life Member and Service Award recognition, Silver Fern pin presentations plus an Auckland War Memorial Museum exhibit providing a reflection of netball’s stories and the people who have shaped its legacy.

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