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History of Netball

The history of netball goes back to 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts when a 30-year-old Canadian immigrant to the USA, James Naismith, was ordered to invent an indoor game for high-spirited young men at the School for Christian Workers (later the YMCA).

Moving from its early roots as basket ball, the first game of netball played at Madame Ostenburg’s College, England in 1895, through to inclusion in the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and the instigation of Fast Net in 2008 and Fast5 in 2013, it has been quite a journey...

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INF History

As the sport has evolved so has the international governing body as the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA), now named the International Netball Federation (INF), has also moved with the times in what is an ever changing and challenging global environment


At Congress 2011 Australian netball stalwarts Deidre Hyland AM and Dorothy (Dot) McHugh OAM launched their book, ‘Netball – State of Play’, a history of the first 50 years of the International Federation of Netball Associations to coincide with IFNA’s Golden Jubilee.

Based primarily on documentary evidence, the book traces the early development of the Federation, the evolution of the international game and the development of the sport of netball beyond the Commonwealth.

One of the most interesting sections of the book contains the reflections of a number of significant people, including Marva Bernard OD from Jamaica, Anne Taylor OBE (New Zealand) and Baroness Sue Campbell CBE (England), on where they see the Federation heading in the next 50 years.

Netball – State of Play has been a labour of love for Deidre and Dot, who claim that their greatest reward is the number of wonderful friend they have made through netball, not only in Australia but around the world.

“This book is our way of expressing appreciation to the International Federation for the many opportunities and memorable experiences we have enjoyed as a result of our involvement with the sport of netball,” Deidre said.



Photo: Dot McHugh OAM, Molly Rhone OJ, CD and Deirdre Hyland AM


INF President Molly Rhone OJ, CD said the book was an invaluable record of the many stages of the game.

“I congratulate Deidre and Dot, both netball icons in their own right, who have devoted much of their lives to the development of the sport and have now placed on record the progress of the Federation since its inception.”

Both Dot and Deidre have had their contribution to sport, and netball in particular, recognisesd by the Australian Government and by various netball Associations.

They both hold Netball Australia and IFNA Service Awards and both have been inducted into the Australian Netball Hall of Fame.

'Netball - State of Play' is available to purchase via the Netball Australia online shop – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or ring the office on +61 3 86218600


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Saturday, 10 December 2016
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