Ms Helen Mann* was a true pioneer for the sport of Netball, making an outstanding contribution to administration at both the State and National levels.
From the early 1930s, she was involved in what was known as the “playground movement” for over thirty years. Run by the Council of City of Sydney, the movement provided recreational facilities for children living in Sydney’s inner city areas.
Mann introduced an inter-playground netball competition and eventually formed the NSW Junior Association. She became the first Secretary of the NSW Junior Association, which was affiliated with the NSW Association. Mann’s commitment to the cause drew many admirers wishing to assist, and as the movement grew in numbers, many playground teams entered the NSW Association’s Saturday afternoon competitions.
Girls from various playgrounds went on to represent at the State Level, namely Daisy Barlett, Pat Chadwick, Kay Ryan, Pat and Therese McCarthy and Carole Sykes; others became administrators at District Associations. The “Coronation” Playground provided a venue which was one of the few hard courts in Sydney for State training, State selection and badging for umpires.
Mann became secretary of the NSW Association in 1947 and held the position until 1951; during this time she was also NSW Delegate to the All Australia Netball Association (1947-1951), NSW Opens State Team Manager (1950), NSW Liaison Officer All Australia Netball Association (1951), then in 1952 was elected Secretary/Treasurer of All Australia, a position she held until 1957.
For her distinguished service to netball, Mann became the first NSW Member to receive All Australia service award in 1959.