Netball has long been a popular sport for men, but now the 12 athletes representing Australia’s men’s national team will make history with a televised match meant to bring men’s netball ‘behind closed doors’.
For the most part, netball was a sport introduced as a means of socializing in college. After years of sports in high school and weekends spent playing cricket or avoiding a heartbreaking injury on the rugby pitch, attention has turned to mixed netball as a way to stay fit and, if you were lucky, to have the chance to talk to this person you were crushing on. on in your tutorial. But as anyone who has been on the netball court can attest, as soon as that whistle blows and play begins, the competition takes over and you quickly realize that netball is a sport that demands everything from its players. players. Fast, aggressive and requiring immense agility and speed, it’s hard not to fall in love with the sport as you walk away dripping in sweat minutes later.
Despite netball’s growing popularity among men, it remains a largely female-dominated sport. As far as media coverage goes, Australia’s men’s national team remains something of a novelty, rarely seen and kept ‘behind closed doors’. Now the 12 Australians representing our nation in netball are set to see the tides change for the men’s game as they compete in a historic trans-Tasman series which begins this week.
In what will be a first, the four-game Constellation Cup series between the Australian and New Zealand women’s teams will feature two televised curtain-raisers between the men’s national teams. The first match will take place in Auckland on Wednesday and the third will be played at the John Cain Arena in Melbourne on October 19. The matches will see the men play before world champion Silver Ferns take on the Commonwealth gold medalist Diamonds. Although the women will then play another Test in Tauranga on October 16 and the Gold Coast on October 23, the men will only play a third standalone match in Auckland on October 14 to complete their competition.
World Netball continues to sanction women’s netball only, with men’s teams unable to wear the coat of arms on their uniforms. But thanks to an agreement between female and male governing bodies on both sides of Tasmania, the historic series has now become a reality for men.
This presents an exciting opportunity for the men who have already received great support during their training, attending the Diamonds training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, before both teams fly to New -Zealand. As Australia captain Dylan Nexhip suggests, the opportunity to play a game on TV is key not only to changing attitudes towards the sport in general, but also to seeing higher participation rates among men with the sport currently being played. by over 116,000 men and boys here in Australia.
“A joint tour like this has never happened in the history of our sport, so to say it’s super exciting is an understatement,” Nexhip said. “It’s huge, something many of us didn’t even dare to dream of.”
Men have long been forced to play netball in self-funded little leagues separate from women for decades. Although there has been a shift lately, with state bodies introducing dedicated men’s lanes for boys – who must leave the girls’ game at age 12 – and adding men’s divisions to senior state titles, however, opportunities for men are still somewhat limited when it comes to the professional nature of netball, and Nexhip and his teammates will have to pay $3,000-5,000 for the tour itself, despite the support from Netball Australia. Even so, diamonds and ferns have often played top men’s teams in practice matches, often losing, since the early 2000s, as reported by The Guardian.
“There has been a lot behind closed doors over the years, with the Diamonds and Super Netball teams, but now is the time for us to be out there fully, after so much work, by so many people, for so many years. This is an important step and we want to show what we can do and hopefully inspire the next generation,” says Nexhip.
He added: “Whatever your gender, you should never be told you can’t play a sport. There should be opportunities for everyone, no matter what sport, it’s as simple as that. .