Netball: Nothing but net for Israel in Ireland

the national Israeli women's netball team competes in the European Netball Festival in Ireland.

israel netball 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
israel netball 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Netball might not be on the list of sports to be played at the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. But if it is ever added in the future Israel's chances of winning a medal just improved, if only a little. From June 6-8 the national Israeli women's netball team competed in the European Netball Festival in Ireland, where it made history by winning its first ever international game. Netball, which was originally known in the US as women's basketball‚ is played on a similar type of court as basketball, only there are seven players on at once instead of five and the nets do not have backboards. In addition, players cannot dribble and can only pass the ball up the court. And the court is zoned, with each player permitted to move only within his/her specific zone. Israel is Netball Europe's newest member having only joined in 2007. Yet, it had gotten off to a rough start, unable to register a win in an international match, until it arrived in Ireland. While the Israelis lost four of its five matches, the game against Gibraltar marked a turning point for the team when it won 28-24. Team member Roni Kresner said the win was thrilling. "We were all crying, it was very exciting," she told The Jerusalem Post. Even the unsuccessful matches were close, with Israel losing to the Ireland by only eight points. To compensate for the lack of a large support, Israeli ambassador Zion Evrony, and a number of other diplomatic staff members attended some of the matches to support the team. The team, which was made up of 11 players ranging in age from 17to 46 trained multiple times a week at the netball court in Ra'anana for six months in the lead up to the tournament. In order to reach Ireland the team had to do all of its own fundraising, holding a major raffle and cooking demonstration, among other events. The team said it hopes news of the win can help boost netball's popularity in Israel, where Kresner admits it is "generally an unknown sport." Team captain at the festival in Ireland, Jodi Carreira, added: "Starting up new sports in this country is not easy to do." Carreira has plans to expand netball in Israel by starting a mini league with teams from Ra'anana and Jerusalem. In addition tryouts for the junior and senior teams for next year's Macabiah Games are set to begin in September.