Netball – you can call it basketball’s distant cousin or the child of basketball and handball. The object of netball is the same as basketball: get the ball through the hoop on the other end of a court. Yet there are drastic differences. There’s no backboard in netball, and no dribbling either. Nonetheless, it’s a sport, albeit not one on the Olympic program, yet. It’s also a sport that’s predominantly played by women. And the world’s best netball players are gathering in what’s set to be the biggest competition in its 52-year history.
The Netball World Cup begins today (Friday) in Sydney, Australia. It’s a sport that’s largely dominated by the Commonwealth countries, more specifically Australia and New Zealand. These two have contested for gold in all five tournaments held so far at the Commonwealth Games, with the Aussies the defending Commonwealth and two-time World champions.
By the numbers, 16 teams will compete in a total of 64 matches over ten days in Sydney’s Allphones Arena, which has a capacity of 18,200 spectators.
If you want a preview of the tournament that may grab your attention, check out the highlights from the Gold Medal Game a last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Fox Sports Australia has a look at the non-Australian players to watch for at the tournament.
The BBC gives a good overview of the event and the chances that the home nations of the United Kingdom have for creating some noise at the World Cup.
The Guardian also has a guide to the competition as well as a special feature on the team from Trinidad and Tobago, the only country other than Australia and New Zealand who’ve been able to call itself champions of the world.