Cosgrove welcomes first Transtasman Netball League
Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Sport and Recreation
2 April 2008 Speech
Cosgrove welcomes the start of the first Trans-Tasman Netball League
Foyer, the Beehive, Wellington
Time: 6pm, Wednesday April 2, 2008
It is my pleasure to host this event to mark a milestone for netball players, coaches and fans – the first ever Trans-Tasman Netball League.
The fact that this new tournament involves the two leading netball nations in the world - New Zealand and Australia - makes this an even more important event.
I extend a warm welcome to you all. I would especially like to acknowledge His Excellency, the High Commissioner for Australia, John Dauth; representatives from Netball New Zealand; Tony Holding, the General Manager of the ANZ Championship and Board members; Eion Edgar, the President of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Board; the chairman of Sport and Recreation New Zealand John Wells; netball players and coaches including members of Wellington’s Central Pulse team; my parliamentary colleagues including the Hon Murray McCully, the opposition spokesperson on sport and recreation; members of the Parliamentary Netball Team; special guests; netball fans and members of the media.
We are all here this evening to celebrate the introduction of a new trans-Tasman league, the ANZ Championship. This is one of the biggest ventures ever undertaken in netball and signals a new professional era for the game.
The generous support of ANZ and the involvement of both Sky Television and Fox Sports in Australia has produced the largest sponsorship of any women’s sport in Australasia and it will give a huge boost to the game in both countries.
Netball is a very important game in New Zealand’s sporting landscape. It has a large following amongst Kiwis, and we are good at playing it, currently ranked number two in the world. (Watch out Australia!)
Every week during the season more than 200,000 players compete in netball competitions. Netball is also the highest participation sport in New Zealand secondary schools. It is fair to say that we passionate about this sport.
For the young aspiring netballers here this evening the ANZ Championships will open up new opportunities for you. The competition gives players international netball experience and allows them to earn income from playing.
For coaches, the ANZ Championship will provide more exposure to international netball and a chance to increase their knowledge of both netball and the art of coaching.
The first game of the ANZ Championship is scheduled for Saturday April 5, here in Wellington with the Melbourne Vixens taking on the Suzuki Pulse. The Vixens have a terrific reputation, but I will be backing the fantastic Wellington Pulse team – (until they play my home team - the SKOPE Canterbury Tactix - being a one-eyed Cantabrian). I am sure this weekend will see a great opening match.
With the introduction of this new Championship we will see enhanced competition that will provide greater opportunities for our upcoming national players to develop their skills and gain experience in a competitive environment. It is also an opportunity for some of our national players to develop into our upcoming national stars.
This will help prepare and foster New Zealand and Australia’s talent for the future so we can keep battling out for the number one position. I have no doubt that everyone will be keeping a close eye on many of these players.
Congratulations to everyone here tonight who has turned this tournament from a great idea into reality. It is that kind of drive and determination that benefits us all – from the players to the coaches, and of course the netball mad public of New Zealand and Australia.
Special recognition and thanks also needs to be given to all the volunteers and coaches who give of their time and energy to keep netball growing strongly at the grassroots level. Among those volunteers are our top level players who have not forgotten the help they got when they were learning netball in our schools and playgrounds, and are now role models working with young people in our communities. It is this support that produces the top level players we have participating in this new tournament, now and in the future.
Good luck to the 10 teams who will be battling it out on our television screens in 69 matches over the next 17 weeks.
I wish all of the people involved in the ANZ Championship every success, and I - along with netball fans on both sides of the Tasman – am very much looking forward to the exciting and fiercely competitive matches this new league will bring.