After two weeks of the ANZ Championship, two Australian teams – Melbourne Vixens and the Adelaide Thunderbirds, as well as the New Zealand’s Waikato Magic – remain undefeated and the competition so far has not been disappointing.
The first two rounds have given new and long time spectators a glimpse of the the skills and speed of the world’s top netballers and the increased level of ball contesting and contact that is allowed in the game.
Since the beginning, netball has always been known as a ‘non-contact’ sport. Well, in today’s form of the game, that could not be further from the truth.
Whilst other sports such as AFL and rugby are trying to reduce the level of contact and contest that occurs on the field, much to the dismay of spectators, netball appears to be taking a different approach and allowing more of it.
Over the past couple of years, netball umpires are allowing for a far greater contest of the ball, even if it does result in a few bodies flying across the floor boards. As a result of the umpires reducing the need to stick their whistles in their mouths every few seconds and stand players “out of play”, the game has become far more appealing, interesting and exciting to watch.
Whilst many may argue that it is the players who are getting rough and physical, at the end of the day, the players play to the umpires and what they will and will not tolerate on the court.
However, with this increased physical nature, umpires need to ensure that they continue to keep on top of the player’s safety and that the physicality does not get out of hand. We don’t want netball going down the path of other sporting codes and having players ending up in brawls on court.
But nor do we want our sport to have a reputation for being soft and weak.
Whilst a particular football code has their players rolling around on the ground when they get breathed on, all in the name of getting a free kick, this new netball competition should continue to encourage the contests between players that we are currently seeing on court and interest those spectators who like to see a little bit of so-called ‘biff’ on court.