London Netball: The History of Netball | GO Mammoth

June 11, 2012

Ever wonder how Netball came into existence? Here's your answer.


Netball, has been around for over one hundred years. The sport was invented around 1893, and is believed to have derived from basketball.

Doctor James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. He created it in order to have a sport that could be played inside during the long northern winters.  Originally dribbling was not a rule at the inception of the game, but was later adopted. The first Basketball games were low scoring. The first official game ended one-nil. The sport was then spread through YMCA and Universities throughout the United States and in 1892, Senda Berenson, took and modified the rules of Basketball for women’s play.

In 1893, Martina Bergman-Österberg, a teacher at Physical Training College in Hampstead, London, introduced yet another version of basketball rules to her students.

These rules were adopted and modified regularly over the years until 1901, when the first official set of Netball rules were issued. Netball had already begun to spread around the world before the rules had even been officially scripted.

Unlike Basketball, which was traditionally played inside and with a basket mounted 10 feet on to a wall (the current day hoop and backboard arrangement was introduced in 1906), Netball moved to the outdoors, and traded the baskets in for rings, as well as introducing three zones of play. The sport of netball also incorporated limited movement compared to basketball.

Globally, Netball spread rather quickly. Before the official rules were even published, Netball had already made its way to Australia in 1900. By 1906 New Zealand had adopted the sport. Its introduction to the Western Hemisphere came in 1909, when it made its way to Jamaica. New Zealand established the first official Netball governing body in 1924.

The first international game was played between Australia and New Zealand. This match ended 40 to 11 in favour of Australia back in 1938. International matches and Netball Leagues have since been adopted in the nature of the sport. In 1960 the major Netball playing nations developed a global standard set of rules. These countries included; Australia, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the West Indies. This conference concluded that the official form of netball competition would be 7 players versus 7 players. Prior to this some countries played 9 verses 9 Netball matches. The official governing body of Netball, known as “The International Federation of Netball Associations” (IFNA), was also established. Lastly, a world championship tournament was established, and is to be played every four years. The championship is known as the World Netball Championships. The Australian team has won the title 10 out of 13 times. Sydney, Australia will host the 2015 Netball world championships.

Netball is an increasingly popular game with Women worldwide, but (since the 1980’s), it has also become more attractive to men. Join in the fun, and make history with London’s Ladies and Mixed Netball Leagues.


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