By Lindsay Rico
After speaking with Urvasi Naidoo about the sport of Netball, only one thing occurred to me: Lebron James could never play this game. Naidoo is the CEO of the IFNA , International Federation of Netball Association, (check out her blog here) and gave me the rundown on Netball as a team sport in its purest form — and as a sport she has used to inspire young girls in India. The balance, agility, and teamwork required to play Netball are skills that Naidoo believes are key in encouraging girls build confidence and realize their potential. And it’s catching on in the U.S., too.
FGN: First of all, what exactly is Netball? How does it work?
UN: Netball is a team sport played by women. It’s essentially similar to basketball: there are two posts and one ball the object of the game is to score the most points by putting the most balls in each hole. There is a substantial difference in rules however. The main rule is that you are not allowed to move with the ball. You must pass it to your teammates and make that pass within three seconds. You are allowed to block on defense, but unlike basketball it is a non contact sport. There is a lot of quick thinking and strategy involved.
FGN: Is it a fast growing sport?
UN: Yes, absolutely. We are finding that it’s not just a commonwealth sport but that its expanding into other countries as well. It’s easily accessible and relatively cheap. You don’t need that much equipment. Just a few girls, a couple of posts and a ball. It’s also a school sport. Every girl has to play netball in school—at least in the commonwealth countries.
FGN: Why do you think Netball is so attractive to women and girls?
UN: It was created especially for women. It’s fun, dynamic and it’s a team game—you can’t have one star. There’s this camaraderie and team spirit that comes into it, which is healthy for girls.
FGN: Is this why Netball is such a good incentive for your program in India?
UN: Yes, the G.O.A.L program, started by the IFNA, targets underprivileged girls and uses Netball to encourage them to transform their lives as well as set and meet their goals. The girls enjoy playing Netball and, yes, it is like an incentive because they play the sport part of the time but the deal is that they also must take time to learn the curriculum that the program mentors have created for them. It’s a fair trade.