Four of international netball’s strongest nations; South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia, have joined forces in a ground-breaking partnership, to be known as SANZEA. SANZEA will bring together four of the sport’s leading national teams to play in a new international netball competition on a regular basis. The importance of regular international fixtures outside of Netball World Cup and Commonwealth Games years is recognised by the participating nations, who are united in their goal of developing a high profile and regular international competition.
New Zealand and Australia will host the inaugural event in late 2016, with the competition moving to South Africa and England, who will host in early 2017. A review will be undertaken after the initial two years, which may lead to further opportunities for the competition to grow, including the addition of other Netball Nations. The International Netball Federation (INF) has indicated support of the new partnership, with the competition format for the inaugural event, including dates and venues, to be released in early 2016.
Having already established the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League for domestic competition and the Diamond Challenge for African nations, Netball South Africa CEO Blanche De La Guerre says she is very excited about the new competition and the opportunities it opens on the international stage. She says: ‘We have been working on the idea and plans for the past two years, and we are now ready and very excited to offer our Spar Proteas squad a brand new competition.’ New Zealand CEO Hilary Poole says the competition would set world netball on a new path to growth: ‘This partnership has the potential to change the face of international netball and is another big step towards building the depth of the game globally.’
South Africa was somewhat isolated in the past few years and only competed against Australia and New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup events. De La Guerre says: ‘This for us is a significant opportunity to host the three big nations of the world in South Africa. We have enough time to prepare our team, and we at Netball SA will make sure that our players are ready to match the quality when going on court. We will bring some of these games to the City of Durban in preparation for the Durban 2022 Commonwealth Games – I believe we can all be excited about the positive impact this new partnership will bring.’
Photo credit: Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015