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May 7, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Netting Success

There’s only one thing worse than being beaten black and blue by Australia in one sport, and that’s getting beaten black and blue by Australia in two sports. The Kiwi sports fan knows no deeper emasculation than to be made a spaniel at the gate with the gold-plated kangaroo.

Thankfully, for my sanity rather than your enjoyment, this will be the last time I speak of our beloved league team or those swashbuckling dandelions formerly known as the Black Caps. Let’s pivot away from those drooling toddlers and focus our attention on a sport so elite that only two countries in the world are any good at it. Funnily enough, those countries just happen to be New Zealand and Australia, but the bibs used in this sport aren’t used to wipe away the drool of failure.

Netball doesn’t really enjoy the level of intrigue and mystique other sports do in our news media. Indeed, the sport lives with the harsh reality that as a commodity in the department store of sport, it’s more likely to be shelved somewhere near the back than next to the rugby-flavoured confectionary at the front.

It’s a shame that a sport so rich in fast-paced action is marginalised in such a fashion, given that the premier piece of netball fanfare, the National Bank Cup, has the tendency to attract large, lively crowds on a regular basis (maybe people turn up just to bang those long, green clapper things. I mean, shit, that does look like more fun than it should be…)

But fears of forever sharing a shelf with softball might soon be softened with the announcement of a Super 14-style trans-Tasman competition, set to tip off in April 2008. Five franchises from New Zealand will square off with five of the best from across the ditch in a competition that will detonate the two countries’ existing domestic competitions, building a flasher set of courts in their place (rumour has it these courts have self-clapping green clapper thingies. Needless to say the BA student in me is thrilled).

The exciting thing about the new competition is that it heralds a new era of professionalism in a sport that’s long overdue for a revamp. A professional sport needs a professional attitude in order to be considered a professional entity worthy of a fan’s hard-earned money. Kudos to the marketing gurus at Netball New Zealand for splurging on a set of full-length mirrors; one must never underestimate the power of looking professional.

Dandelions these athletes certainly are not, evidenced by the fact that New Zealand netball boasts quite an admirable record against our canary-coloured pals from across the Tasman. One can only hope that this influx of professionalism only enriches the panache and pizzazz already on show on the court.


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Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

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