Netball competitions in Australia are definitely very popular. Spectator support alone is very strong as attested by the record crowd of 14,339 who attended the Australia vs New Zealand Sydney Test Match in 2004. Actual participation is also very much solid as girls and women all over the country involve themselves in playing. That’s certainly not bad for a sport that traces its beginnings to 1892 America with a game that had ladies using broomsticks for posts and wet paper bags for baskets.

We’ve certainly come a long way from those players in long skirts, nipped waists, bustle backs, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and button-up shoes bravely and determinedly trying to have some competitive fun with the new sport they’d unwittingly originated. Netball spanned the globe pretty quickly, with records showing that the game was established in Australia as early as 1901.

Netball has certainly ingrained itself in Australian culture as evidenced by the popularity of netball competitions in Australia. For the longest time, the sport has been considered the first choice sport for females of all ages. This continues to be true, but as mixed netball becomes more and more common, interest from the male segment of the population has exponentially grown.

There are many reasons to play netball. You could do it for your health, for recognition and achievement, for involvement, and even just for the pure joy of playing the game. You could do it for whatever personal purpose you may have. Definitely, with the birth of social netball, some people have become involved in the game with the primary goal of mingling and meeting new people. Melbourne Social Netball has certainly made this possible for those who participate in its competitions.

Melbourne has enjoyed a strong netball presence for a long time. Back when netball was still called “women’s basketball,” the city played host to the first official national championships in 1928. A decade later, it also hosted Australia’s first international match (against New Zealand), which the home team gladly won.

These days, Melbourne netballers may start as young as five years old, may belong to mixed teams, and may play indoors, although outdoor courts like those at the Riverside Golf and Tennis Centre remain to be more popular.

Netball obviously has great cultural and sporting significance within the Australian community. Its social version has certainly made the game even more inclusive. What used to be a girl’s game has become a game for virtually everyone – young, old, male, female, rich, poor, athletes, beginners, and even the handicapable. The way the game has evolved to foster inclusion explains its popularity in a nation that embodies multiculturalism.

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