History of Men's Netball

by Peter Turk CEO of Australian Internataional Mens and Mixed Netball Association Inc

History of Mens Netball Internationally
Since 1985 Australia and New Zealand have been involved in a Trans Tasman series, every second year. The series is played in Australia and New Zealand on a rotating basis between our Open and 23 and under Mens Teams.

Other countries that have Mens teams that we are aware of including, England, Canada, USA, Pakistan, Fiji, Cooke Islands, Papua New Guinea and Jamaica.
Their levels of international competition aren't known.

It is our intention to keep working on these countries to get involved and in time have all of these countries competing at the one event.

International Recognition

Currently only women's netball is recognised officially through IFNA.
It is one of AIMMNA's goals to achieve recognition for Mens and Mixed Netball and the forthcoming Fiji Championships is the first step.

Concepts behind the Fiji Championships

As previously mentioned Australia and New Zealand have a long History with playing each other in the Trans-Tasman Cup Series, which we will continue.
However both the New Zealand Mens Netball Association and the AIMMNA Boards felt that we need to expand our horizons for the sport. At a meeting during the Australian championships in 2003 we discussed the viability of a world cup type event with New Zealand proposing Fiji as the ideal location.

New Zealand President David Palaamo, contacted Alice Tabete from the Fiji Sports Council and floated our idea past her. Alice was receptive to the idea and a meeting was arranged between us in New Zealand during the Trans-Tasman tour October 2003.

The meeting was positive with an agreement reached by New Zealand, Fiji, Cooke Islands and Australia to run what is the first Mens and Mixed International event in Fiji this August.

Many countries were invited to participate and were initially very responsive to being involved. Unfortunately the biggest problem faced by our sport is the lack of financial support from Governments and Business Sponsorship as Men's and Mixed Netball is in the shadow of women's netball. Virtually everyone competing in Fiji has self funded the trip to represent his or her respective country at this event The cost for England and USA for instance to travel to Fiji was prohibitive to the individuals and all efforts to gain assistance yielded nothing. This is also true for Canada, Papua New Guinea and several other South Pacific Islands.

We believe that this event will demonstrate how different and more exciting Mens and Mixed Netball is and that the success of this event will stimulate the countries that didn't make it to Fiji not miss the next championships.

Men's Netball in Australia

Mens netball started to become popular in Australia in the early 80's as a natural progression from men watching their wives and girlfriends playing and the advent of social mixed netball. By the mid 80's most Australian states had Associations formed to govern and guide the sport.

1985 saw the first National Championships held for Men, which were restricted to State mens teams in the following divisions; Open, Open Reserves, 21 and Under, 19 and Under, 17 and Under and Masters.

This structure remained intact until 2002, when due to a steady decline in interest a change in format was required to re-energise the sport.

The South Australian Mens Netball Association had been running Mixed Netball competitions since 1998 and identified that for Mens Netball to become stronger, the involvement of women was critical. It was also identified that the format of National Championships had become stagnant and that this yearly competition needed a change in structure.

The South Australian body proposed that (A) Entry to the yearly championships be open to All State bodies, any other Associations or clubs and International teams.
(B) The inclusion of Mixed Teams at the Championships.

The proposed changes where not well received by the controlling body for mens netball in Australia and the South Australian Association decided to go it alone and form a new National body (AIMMNA) in 2001.

With support from groups in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Defence Forces (ADF), AIMMNA was able to hold it's first Australian Championships in 2002 for mens and mixed teams.

The 2003 Australian Championships saw New Zealand entering a team in the Open Mens Division and going on to win the title.

The 2004 Australian Championships had two international teams competing, Fiji and New Zealand.

In 2005 the Australian Championships will be a joint venture between AIMMNA and the original Australian Mens Association who will also enter mixed teams into the competition. Again international teams will also be able to compete.

As an Association AIMMNA is delighted that in a few short years we have been able to achieve one of our goals in having an open to all mens competition and an ever growing mixed division.

Scope of Participation

A national membership of over 350,000 and 541 affiliated associations

Including the registered numbers of Netball Australia, there are an estimated total of 1.2 million netball players in Australia (many male, female, mixed and school competitions are not required to register with Netball Australia, Netball Australia resources are utilised by these groups however)

(Taken from Netball Australia web site)

Local Competitions

Mens Netball is played on a regular basis in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Mixed Netball however is played across all of Australia in hundreds of venues, virtually on a daily basis.