In 1891, not only did James Naismith, a 30-year-old Canadian immigrant to the USA, invent basketball, but he inadvertently aided in the invention of Netball.
In 1895, Naismith sent a copy of his basketball rules to Clara Baer, a sports teacher in New Orleans. Baer interpreted Naismith's drawings to mean players could not leave certain areas of the court. In 1899, Clara’s mistake was ratified into the rules of women's basketball as zones. Women's basketball was then taken to Britain where the original game was transformed into a passing, no dribbling game called “Netball”.
In 1995, Netball became a “recognized” Olympic sport and in turn included at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and will be part of the 2010 Games in Delhi, India. Netball is not currently in the Olympics program; however, Netballers around the world are campaigning to have Netball introduced to the Olympic Games in 2012.
The International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) is the sole, internationally recognized, governing body for Netball, affiliated with: the General Association of International Sports Federations; the International World Games Association; and the Association of Recognized Sports Federations, receiving funding from the International Olympic Committee. For more information about IFNA visit www.netball.org.
Today, Netball is not just a sport for many. It is a passion. Worldwide, Netball has become one of the biggest female-dominated team sports with over one million women and girls playing every week in the UK, and 20 million playing in 70 countries globally.
In addition, many schools throughout the world include Netball as part of its physical education curriculum, teaching children important skills like ball work, communication and teamwork.
In Canada, Netball continues to gain interest and momentum every year. The Canadian Amateur Netball Association (www.netballcanada.com) is a member of IFNA and the body responsible for training Canada’s top Netball athletes to participate in various international competitions. There are also four Provincial Netball Associations operating in Quebec, Ontario, BC and Alberta.