International Tests

‘A crime not to push it’: Lisa Alexander backs netball’s Olympic-bid

Netballers around the world are set to unite to push to have the sport included at the Olympics following the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) announcement that Brisbane, Australia, will host the XXXV Olympiad in 2032.

And one of Australia’s most successful sporting identities former Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander told The Netball Post the sport must be included as Australia’s leading women’s sport.

“There are enough people playing, we can do it. The argument there is not enough [countries or men playing] is rubbish,” she said.

“Australia can push to have it in as it is the most popular women’s sport. It seems a crime not to push it. It was a lost opportunity in London 2012.

“Everyone has to push the traditional version of the game – it can be pushed as a demonstration sport. We have to get the Australian Olympic Committee on board, and we need World Netball as well.

“It has to come from the top.”

The recently re-branded World Netball (formerly International Netball Federation) does mention the Olympics in its strategic plan, it says:

Develop and deliver an International Event Strategy that showcases the very best of our sport to more people, more often, and includes a clear and credible position on multi-sports games, including the Olympic Games.

World Netball Strategic Direction

Netball is played by about 20 million people worldwide, however, still faces the prospect of missing another Olympic Games despite successfully appearing at the Commonwealth Games since 1998.

Fans of the sport believe Australia would be the perfect place to host the first-ever Olympic Netball competition.

New Zealand Men’s Netball Player Junior Levi, who also plays in Australia, said the sport had time on its side in an interview conducted earlier this year.

“Netball is one sport where women have the monopoly and obviously, they want to maintain that for women. Fortunately for the sport, it gets the chance to be pioneers of sport where the base is dominated by women with boys and men’s inclusion,” he said.

“I think the only way we get social and foundational change for netball is at everyday local clubs and for people to see the product on a large scale like the Cadbury Series in New Zealand. Boys and men will notice the game when they see it – and through that more boys will want to get into it.

“One thing World Netball does have is time … this is not about me, this is about the next generation of netballers.”

England Men’s and Mixed Netball Association Men’s Development Officer and Knights Men’s Netball General Manager Lewis Keeling said men’s and mixed netball will continue to grow over the next decade.

“The female game has been good enough for a long time now, you only have to look at the recent World Cups, and Commonwealth Games,” he said.

“If [including men’s netball] helps a little bit to get these amazing female athletes the recognition they deserve, then fantastic.

“In terms of how we do that, we’re building over here. We have managed to keep up some of the momentum despite not being able to play for the past year – we’ve come a long way and in the next 11 years, the whole sport will be bigger and better.”

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