Game changers! The Suncorp Super Netball League and the ANZ Premiership, home to superstars like Sharni Layton, above left, have taken netball to a new level! The eight professional franchises in Australia, right, and the six professional franchises in New Zealand, above centre, have shown the UK what’s possible! 4
A NEW ERA AWAITS NETBALL IN THE UK by Lawrie Davies, Editor, Netball Universe It's possible that some who read this first issue of Netball Universe will be wondering who I am, and what makes me think I’m enough of an authority on netball to start a magazine covering the sport! The fact I’m male, will probably exacerbate the confusion!! The answer to the first question, in short, is twofold; firstly, I've spent my entire adult life being trained to succeed in off-field professional sport by one of British rugby’s most successful marketing, commercial & communications men, and secondly, I'm an individual who always responds to opportunity. But the answer to the second question is even simpler than that: I don’t think I am an authority on netball - I’m just an individual whose passion for the sport runs deep, and in whatever way I can, I want to make a positive contribution to the development of netball in my region and in the UK. Opinions are free, and I certainly won’t be offended if anybody thinks my take or Netball Universe’s take on anything netball related is wrong, after all, we’re all entitled to our own opinions! There’s no doubt my love for sport and also, my knowledge of rugby union past and present, has stoked my passion for netball. Because I believe that the journey netball in the UK is on, bears many similarities to where rugby union was in the early/mid 1990’s... an amateur sport on course to become fully professional over the next few years! The netball purists out there will probably hate me for saying that, but it’s to no avail, because the ship's already set sail. You only need to look at the images on this page as evidence of this fact. The Suncorp Super Netball League in Australia and the ANZ Premiership in New Zealand are already living the reality of professional franchise netball. And the ambition of Joanna Adams and her England Netball team means that it won’t be long before it arrives on these shores too. If Australia and New Zealand, with a combined population of nearly 30 million people and a GDP of 1.4 trillion (USD), can sustain 14 professional netball teams, then why would the United Kingdom, with a population of 65 million and a GDP of 2.6 trillion, not be able to do the same, or even more?! The answer is: of course we could. And we will too. One way or another, professional franchise netball is coming to the Vitality Netball Superleague! If for any reason the UK can’t make it work, then it’s not because it isn’t possible, it’ll simply be that those in the hot seats don’t know how to do it. The southern hemisphere has shown us what’s possible, and what one can do, another can do too! The issue is simply one of timing. In rugby union, amateurism started to creak in the late 80's and early 90’s "One way or another, professional franchise netball is coming to the Vitality Netball Superleague!"