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Unless you hail from a country that belongs to the Commonwealth, the word ‘netball’ probably doesn’t ring a bell. But based on the crowd that filled the Yonathan School Sports Hall in Ra’anana this past Monday to watch the final of this year’s league, netball in Israel is definitely on the rise.
While often described as a variation of basketball without a backboard and dribbling, netball prides itself as a distinct sport that was established in England, and is predominantly played by women in Commonwealth countries.
And now, netball is gaining recognition in Israel as well.
This year, a netball league was formed in Israel with five teams, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem-Ma’ale Adumim, Modiin, Ra’anana, and Jerusalem Merkaz.
“There were seventy-five players in the league this year,” said Tanya Weil, Israel Netball League Coordinator.
“And while the majority are Anglo-Saxon Olim, the number of Israeli born players are steadily increasing.”
Monday’s grand final featured the teams from Ra’anana and Jerusalem-Ma’ale Adumim, showcasing the best netball talent in Israel. In a tough and exciting encounter, Ra’anana took the gold, 41-26, proving to be the stronger and more accurate shooting team on the night.
“This was the best netball game ever played between two clubs in Israel,” said Jodi Saitowitz Carreira, secretary and founder of Israel netball. “The fans that came to watch were simply in awe at how the level has grown.”
For the players, the competitive side is only one aspect of the netball league.
“In a country that has very limited opportunities for women’s sport, netball has filled that void, and we are having lots of fun along the way,” said Alexi Schapiro, who plays on the Jerusalem-Ma’ale Adumim team.
Ilana Engel, who only recently started playing netball and joined the league this year, had similar sentiments.
“The league is about more than just a game on court,” she said, “It’s a
fantastic setting to make friends and build a sense of camaraderie in
an organized framework.”
The aim for next year is to expand. “We are trying to get more teams to
join the league,” said Weil, “But our biggest setback is funding. In
order to continue to grow, we need the support of sponsors.”
“Next year will be bigger and better,” added Jodi Saitowitz Carreira, “And we look forward to welcoming many new faces.”If you are interested in joining the league or sponsoring a
team, please visit www.israelnetball.org.il or contact Jodi Carreira at