The Abu Dhabi Netball League invites women of all nationalities to enjoy the game as well as compete on a regular basis

The Abu Dhabi Netball League started their new season recently at a new venue - the Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club. The netball league provides an opportunity for women of all nationalities to enjoy and compete in a weekly competition as well as regularly organised fun tournaments within the club and around the Gulf region.

Although the focus is on the competition, the netball league social events are also popular with members.

"The league enables teams to compete in competitive and friendly matches" says Sarah Partridge, captain and coach of the Windies team and long-time committee member "It brings together different races, nationalities and personalities who play as part of a team. There is always a great atmosphere which encourages players to be involved," Sarah adds.

The game's origin

Netball is said to have originated in 1891 when a YMCA worker in the US invented a new game to stop young men from injuring themselves as they were inclined to throw the balls too fast at each other.

The new game's rules were to encourage throwing the ball upwards into a basket. In 1895, a New Orleans school teacher misunderstood the rules for this new game called 'basketball' by viewing markings on the court instructions as zones.

Over the next few years 'dribbling' was slowly phased out. So were long ball passes as the clothing of the day restricted arm movements. These circumstances meant adapting the game, so the court was divided into thirds and new rules were introduced, including the ball must be caught or touched at least once in each third and players were restricted to specific playing areas depending on the position they played.

The goal ring was modified by the removal of the back board and so the game of netball really began.

Christina Meagher, a new committee member, explains how she has benefitted from joining the league, "As a newcomer to Abu Dhabi one year ago, netball was not only an opportunity to enjoy a team sport but also to meet new people. It's also a great way to stay fit."

Multicultural experience

The girls participating in the eight league teams (who are sponsored by local companies) originate from Australia to South Africa, Canada to the UK. They make the league a multicultural experience.

Besides the main league competition and attendance at the annual InterGulf tournament, the committee also organises regular fun netball competitions, such as an Around The World tournament where team players are chosen by country of origin.

The previous tournament consisted of two British teams, a team of South Africans, a team made up of players from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Ireland and a team of Canadians who, after a few close games, were the winners.

Committee member Stacey Evans encourages members to enjoy the social side of the game saying, "Netball is a great way to meet new people regardless of your ability. It is a social league that welcomes anyone. Come along and get fit, but don't forget to enjoy it."