History of Netball - Expanding International Competition

Expanding International Competition

Following the global standardisation of netball rules, international netball competition expanded during the second half of the 20th century. It was included for the first time in 1985 at the World Games, a sporting competition held every four years for sports that are not contested at the Olympic Games. New Zealand won the inaugural World Games netball competition, and again in 1989. Australia won the third and last World Games netball competition in 1993. Netball has not been included in the World Games since.

During the 1988 Australian Bicentenary celebrations, a youth netball tournament was organised in Canberra involving U-21 teams from around the world on 15–24 July. This tournament proved to be a success, and has continued to be held roughly every four years, presently as the World Youth Netball Championships. Fiji hosted the next tournament in 1992, followed by Canada in 1996, Wales in 2000 and the United States in 2005. The most recent tournament was held in the Cook Islands in 2009, with Australia U21 emerging as champions.

At the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, netball was included in the programme as a demonstration sport. Netball became a competitive sport in the Commonwealth Games at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur. Australia won the inaugural netball competition in 1998, and again at the 2002 Games in Manchester. New Zealand won the next two netball competitions at the 2006 Games in Melbourne and the 2010 Games in Delhi. Netball has since become a "core sport" at the Commonwealth Games (for women only).

Netball has never been contested at the Olympic Games, nor has it been shown as a demonstration sport. However, netball became an Olympic "recognised sport" in 1995, paving the way for its possible inclusion as a competitive sport in the future. A campaign in England was started in 2008 for netball to be included as a demonstration sport at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which was supported by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Smaller regional tournaments emerged in the 1990s and early 2000s giving increased competition for second-tier nations, including the Asian Netball Championship and the Nations Cup. Netball has also been included in various smaller multi-sport events, including the Pacific Games, All-Africa Games, World Masters Games and the Arafura Games.

Increased international competition led to the development of the INF World Rankings in 2008, in which the performances of national teams could be compared. Higher-ranked national teams often compete on an annual basis, either in one-off tests or as part of tours. The Australian and New Zealand national teams have traditionally dominated the international game, although England and Jamaica are becoming increasingly competitive against their Antipodean counterparts.

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