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Netball History

Netball has been a very popular sport especially throughout the UK but where did it originate? Who's great idea was it to attach a net to a post as a form of sport? In fact early netball was adopted from Naismith's newly developed sport called basketball. Netball was founded as a female alternative in 1892, one year after the founding of basketball.

Netball was originally called women's basketball and it was only in the early 20th century thanks to a British college that adjusted the rules that the sport took on the name of netball.

The first ever version of netball was created in 1892 when a PE teacher who had seen basketball in action decided to adapt and change the rules for her female students making it more acceptable and appealable to a feminine audience. However this early version of netball was very different to modern day rules and regulations, having the court split into thirds with only 3 players on each team.

In 1893 a PE teacher called Martina Bergman-Osterberg introduced a version of "women's basketball" to her female students she adjusted the rules of the game and over several years substantial revision were made. Netball moved outdoors onto grass courts, the playing court was divided into 3 zones, and the baskets placed on netball posts instead of on the side of walls removing the backboard. The first ever rules were published in with 250 copies made.

In most countries the sport still retained the name "women's basketball" until 1909 when "netball" was truly adopted as a sport, individual from women's basketball. Netball really flourished in Britain much more so than the rest of the world, having been first introduced in 1892 at the YMCA in Birkenhead and Merseyside the sport had started to take over.

Netball grew throughout the 20th century being an entirely female sport it was adopted by most schools and colleges providing women a form of physical exercise without the male participation.

The first ever league and associations were established in the 1920s in new Zealand, following the 1956 Australian tour of England the first efforts were made to establish official rules for netball after having been so separated since the founding of the sport.

These efforts finally paid off in 1960 when the key netball playing countries decided on a regularised set of rules that we still use today. This was called the internal federation of women's basketball and netball (now known as the international netball federation).