Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2014

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Netball coming to Las Vegas this weekend

Netball is coming to Las Vegas this weekend, and organizers of the tournament are hoping the event will draw attention to the sport.

Netball, a cousin to basketball, is played in an area slightly longer than a basketball court with netted hoops without backboards on both ends. Teams are made up of seven players, some of whom are limited to specific zones on the court.

And there’s no dribbling.

Players have to pass or shoot a ball the size of a soccer ball with the grip of a volleyball within three seconds of getting it. The team that puts the most balls in the net wins.

“You can’t have ball hogs in this sport,” said Sonya Ottaway, president of Netball America. “To succeed, you have to work as a team.”

More than 250 athletes representing 23 international and American teams are in Las Vegas for the tournament. Among the competitors is a team from Southern Nevada known as the Las Vegas Devils.

Games consisting of two 12-minute halves will be played at UNLV’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Games will be played on four courts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

A netball orientation session to demonstrate the game is scheduled for 6 p.m. today. There is no admission charge to watch any of the events.

Most of the players will be staying at New York-New York.

Many of the event organizers, like Ottaway, are Australian expatriates living in the United States.

“We’re really hoping that we can get some teachers, physical education advocates and people who run gyms and YMCAs to come out and see how the game is played,” Ottaway said.

“It’s a pretty cost-effective sport, and we think it can take hold with students who didn’t make the basketball team or the volleyball team,” she said.

Netball, first played in 1895 at about the time Dr. James Naismith was inventing basketball, was first played in the United States about 30 years ago. It became recognized as an Olympic sport in 1995.

“We’d really like to have a world cup of netball in Las Vegas,” Ottaway said. “This weekend, we’d love to get some people to come check it out.”

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  1. This game is very popular with British Commonwealth, Caribbean and Pacific Island nations. Traditionally Australia & New Zealand are the strong teams, with a great rivalry between these two countries. England and Jamaica are also very very strong. The sport is also taking off in Africa with Malawi currently ranked #5 in the world. There are 33 ranked teams in the world and USA is at #17.
    It is a sport which is played predominantly by women although there are some men's competitions around. It is an exciting sport which involves quick reflexes and excellent court positioning skills. There is no body contact permitted but that takes nothing away from the speed and excitement of the game.