For the love of Netball, we are giving a brief summary of the history of the game of netball. We’re not trying to be comprehensive in our coverage, though we do try and ensure that the facts we use are verified before publication. If you have any comments on the content this or any other article you find on the NetballFun site, then please contact us.


The inaugural introduction of netball for the sporting pleasure of the general public happened in 1891 in America. It was initially considered to be a nothing but a variant of basketball, and became known as “women’s basketball”: naming any game “women’s [insert any game]” in modern and oppressively politically correct days would most likely see the perpetrator shot – times were clearly simpler in 1891.

American academic staff visiting England sought to teach the locals a thing or two about sport, and one of the ways they found to do this was to nail two bins onto two facing walls, and throw balls at them. One happy consequence of this teaching was that the ladies of England were able to engage in women’s basketball, though with rules (and equipment) that would likely not be recognised by today’s cosmopolitan netball community. England wholeheartedly embraced the game and standardised rules were formulated by the first governing body.

Essential netball equipment:
The standardisation and generally acceptance of the game saw many teams begin to form – with this growth in numbers came an inevitable formation of leagues to provide eager competition for netball enthusiasts. By 1902 the standardised English rules were being exported to many countries who had by now begun show an interest in the sport. The irony of the use of English netball rules in America cannot be overlooked.

The infusion of netball into just about every society and country throughout the world has continued unchecked since. In 1995 netball was recognised as an Olympic sport and, the irony continuing, the USA managed to get around to sending its first team to the World Championships (held, of course, in England).

Politically (in)correct attitudes meant that Men generally didn’t play netball – why should they when they would could demonstrate their virility playing basketball…? In recent years the affect of this slightly old-fashioned attitude has subsided, and men can now happily play in their own games and leagues, and even in mixed matches. Pleated skirt optional