Netball Australia plays lead role engaging with communities through Pacific Sports Partnerships program

Netball Australia is playing a lead role engaging with communities and promoting the game’s development through support from the Australian Government Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) program. Implemented as the Pacific Netball Partnership, the program is being delivered in Samoa, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands, with a view to further expansion in 2012.

A key aim of the PSP is promoting collaboration and strengthening partnerships between Australian and Pacific in-country sporting organisations in the Oceania region as well as improving the participation of people in sport and physical activity, engaging with girls and women in the sport and teaching netball skills.

Staff within the ASC’s International Sport-for-Development program met recently at the ASC with Coach Development and Participation Manager, Netball Australia Anne Marie Phippard and Pacific Partnership and Oceania Manager, Netball New Zealand Briar Martindale to discuss the delivery of the PSP program.

With support of the PSP, Netball Australia is playing a leadership role, working in partnership with Netball New Zealand and the Oceania Netball Federation while strengthening ties with in-country national sporting organisations, local clubs and villages to support the game’s development across the Pacific.

Anne Marie Phippard reinforces the importance of the collaborative partnerships in building the capacity of sporting organisations and clubs in the Pacific in delivering their own quality sport-for-development programs.

‘For international netball to grow and to become stronger, we need to support effective and functional in-country national sporting organisations in the Pacific that have the capacity to deliver their own quality programs.’ Phippard said.

‘Netball Australia with its partners is sharing its knowledge and expertise to support and strengthen the management of in-country sporting organisations and to ensure they have the skills and expertise to deliver quality sport activities in the Pacific.

‘The PSP has also helped strengthen ties between the sporting organisations involved in the delivery of netball development programs in the Pacific, which aim to boost participation of women in sport and positively influence the lives of girls and women within the wider community.’

Netball is extending its reach across the Pacific through the delivery of a number of sport-for-development programs in Samoa, Vanuatu and Cook Islands Netball Associations.

Briar and Anne Marie cite a number of success stories coming out of the PSP program to boost netball development.

‘For example, there were no formal junior netball programs being delivered in Samoan primary schools before the introduction of the PSP,’ Phippard says.

‘A pilot netball clinic is now being run in primary schools within Apia, Samoa, which is helping people to learn about the game, develop their skills and become more physically active.

‘This clinic has led to an end-of-school-term netball tournament providing an opportunity for Samoan kids to have fun and celebrate the new skills they have learnt through the program.’

Briar Martindale says more people are taking up netball in the Cook Islands with the introduction of quality sport-for-development programs.’

‘Netball programs in the Cook Islands primary schools were ad hoc and depended heavily on volunteers to run sporting activity, which has since been transformed through the PSP.

‘The PSP has led to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education with regular netball coaching clinics and official development programs being run in primary schools within the Cook Islands, creating opportunities for more people to play the game.

There are also opportunities for people within the wider community to get involved in the game in roles as players, coaches and officials.

‘While local sporting organisations have been working with limited budgets and resources, with PSP support, there is great potential to develop the game and talented young netballers coming through the pathway.’

They have also learnt some lessons in planning sport for development programs tailored to the specific needs of Pacific communities.

‘It involves listening to their needs and having some awareness and understanding about the diverse and rich culture, customs and language of Pacific communities,’ Briar said.

‘For example, while netball is predominately played by females, sport involves the whole family in communities like the Cook Islands.

‘You need to consider the right way and protocols for engaging with local communities, including leaders within local villages and churches.’

‘When training sports coordinators to deliver sports programs you also need to recognise each Island within the Cook Islands has its own different language dialects.’

The PSP is a key initiative of the Australian Sport Outreach Program, managed by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in partnership with AusAID. A key aim of the PSP is helping Pacific communities to deliver their own quality, sports participation programs, which have social benefits in key areas of health, social cohesion and leadership.