Fantastic news for England Netball as five of their squad have accepted invitations to join the world’s first professional netball league, the ANZ Championship.
The league, which will be contested in Australia and New Zealand from April, will feature five teams from both Australia and New Zealand. The weekly competition will be home to some of the world’s leading netball players.
“To be invited to take part in the ANZ Championship is a huge compliment to these English players,” says Nigel Holl, England Netball’s Director of Netball, “and recognises the progress that the English game has made – both the national team, and through the advent of the Co-operative Netball Superleague – on the international stage. It will be a huge challenge for all of them, but one which I’m sure they will relish and enjoy and assist their own personal development.”
England’s vice captain Karen Atkinson and Ama Agbeze will be based in Perth and playing for West Coast Fever. While Geva Mentor will be joining the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Team Bath’s Tamsin Greenway has been invited to play for Queensland Firebirds. Sonia Mkoloma, England’s inspirational defender, will be the only English player based in New Zealand where she will become part of the Pulse squad.
“Many of our international athletes have already had to forego employment opportunities to train and play, and with the professional era now dawning in the Southern Hemisphere, it is certain that sponsors and supporters will encourage its progress to our own competitions in the coming months and years,” says Holl. “This can only be great for the further development of the game in England and should see the Co-operative Netball Superleague develop into a similar, semi-professional league, in the near future.”
Mary Godbeer, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine