Legends gather to unleash Netball World Cup

There was netball royalty in attendance this morning as the 2015 Netball World Cup was officially launched over an intimate breakfast overlooking the picturesque Sydney Harbour – the host city for the 2015 tournament.

Australian netball captains from Anne Sargeant OAM to Laura Geitz shared some of their favourite memories from World Netball Championships gone by, building excitement for the ten-day tournament to be played at Sydney Olympic Park in just under two years’ time.

Amongst the guests were International netballers, New Zealand Silver Ferns Vice-Captain Laura Langman, English defender Stacey Francis and Jamaican goal shooter (and sometimes defender!) Romelda Aitken, as well as International Netball Federation (INF) President Molly Rhone who couldn’t contain her excitement while addressing the audience.

“Sydney is recognised internationally for its excellence in staging major international sporting events, highlighted of course by the 2000 Olympics,” Rhone said.

“The Netball World Cup is the pinnacle of international netball competition.  It is, if you like, the Olympics of our sport.  For a netball player to play in the World Cup is the highest achievement and something to be proud of for the rest of her life.”

“With your support I have no doubt that Netball World Cup 2015 will be the best yet and will leave a lasting legacy for our sport for generations to come,” Rhone concluded.

After pledging funding towards the 2015 Netball World Cup – as well as describing himself as a ‘Netball Dad’ – during his election campaign, Prime Minister Tony Abbot MP has further aligned himself with our sport withhis wife Margie Abbott announced as the first Netball World Cup Ambassador.

Netball World Cup (NWC) CEO Marne Fechner not only used the occasion to unveil the NWC logo, but reveal the new competition format for the 2015 tournament, which will see the top two netball nations – Australia and New Zealand – pooled together for the very first time.

“For netball fans and our partners, the most visible change will include a greater focus on our Netball World Cup regional qualifiers, which will be staged in Canada, Cook Islands, Botswana, Singapore and Wales, between June and September next year,” Fechner said.

“[Netball fans will also see] the expansion of the Netball World Cup window from eight to ten days, and most significantly, an increase in the number of closely contested games … we will no longer have to wait until the medal games to see the likes of New Zealand, Australia, England and Jamaica line up against each other.”

The new format will see teams seeded from 1-16 based on their INF Rankings as at July 2014.  In the event that more than two teams from one Region are allocated into the same initial group, then they are placed into a corresponding pool and switched with the closest ranked teams below their ranking.

Here is an example (demonstration only; not the actual draw):

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
Team Seeded 1 Team Seeded 3 Team Seeded 5 Team Seeded 7
Team Seeded 2 Team Seeded 4 Team Seeded 6 Team Seeded 8
Team Seeded 9 Team Seeded 11 Team Seeded 13 Team Seeded 15
Team Seeded 10 Team Seeded 12 Team Seeded 14 Team Seeded 16

Recent Netball NSW Hall of Fame inductee Liz Ellis AM – who was involved in four Netball World Cups herself, including three Gold Medals – took on Master of Ceremony duties for the morning, saying she was incredibly thrilled to be involved.

“One of the favourite things for me was to be able to interview and speak to past players like Michelle den Dekker, Sharelle McMahon, Jill MacIntosh and Anne Sargeant, and to hear about the history of the sport and the history of the World Cup and what it means to players,” Ellis said.

“I loved speaking to some current players … to see how the World Cup is going to impact their lives in 2015.  It was just a really great thing to be a part of.”

The 2015 Netball World Cup will be played at Sydney Olympic Park from Friday 7 to Sunday 16 August, 2015, and will feature 16 teams representing five regions from around the world.

The last time Australia hosted the World Netball Championships was in Sydney during 1991, where Australia defeated our old rivals New Zealand by one goal to claim the Gold Medal in front of their home fans.

Let’s hope history can repeat itself and we can cheer our Diamonds to Grand Final victory to inspire the next generation of Australian netballers to greater heights!

You can see some of this morning’s special moments by checking out our Facebook Album on www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW.

For more information, visit www.wnc2015.com.au.  You can also join in the conversation and receive regular updates by following the Sydney NWC team on social media;www.facebook.com/netballworldcup andwww.twitter.com/netballworldcup using the hashtags #NWC2015 and #unleashed

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