In 2015 this rivalry took a political turn with two opportunities for the Australian and New Zealand parliamentary netball teams to face off on the court.
The first match was in New Zealand – in the spirit of the ANZAC’s – playing for the `Digeress Cup’.
The Netball World Cup in Sydney in August provided the second impetus for game two with Australian netball legend Anne Sargeant serving as umpire.
Australia’s co-captains Senator Bridget McKenzie and Jo Ryan MP (both pictured right) said both matches were played with the same level of passion as the many memorable clashes between netball’s two oldest and fiercest rivals over the past eight decades.
“Playing for your country, albeit at a level a long way from our national team, means a certain passion is taken onto the court – and our pollie’s World Cup game was no exception,” Senator McKenzie and Ryan said.
“Everyone left party politics in the parliament and came together for our nation. Every player left it all on the court.
“We sized each other up as we sang our respective national anthems and it was moving to hear the haunting Maori tune.”
Senator McKenzie and Ryan said Confident Girls “epitomises why we play sport and why it is important that all young women have the opportunities to grow and develop through sport” through friends, fun and fitness.
“We came together in the first match to celebrate the fact that women played a pivotal role in the ANZAC tradition. In both matches we celebrated the way, sport, and particularly netball, brings women together, increases their confidence, and builds camaraderie,” the co-captains said.
“We would like to thank our players Senators (Jenny) McAllister, (Concetta) Fierravanti-Wells and Sharon Claydon MP.
“A special thanks to our `secret weapons’ – including current Diamond Gretel Tippett – who proved to be just what we needed to muscle up to the New Zealand pollies that had some ex-Silver Ferns in their line-up.”
New Zealand captain Louise Upston, that country’s Minister for Women, said her team was thrilled to support such a fantastic campaign in Confident Girls.
“Playing netball gives young women the opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence. It’s a sport that not only helps you get fit but also keeps you socially connected,” Upston said.
Senator McKenzie and Ryan said the Australian team thanked their New Zealand counterparts, Netball Australia and all its sponsors and supporters.
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