It is a fact that netball has long been a competitive sport in the UK. It was first brought over from the USA where it was designed to be an alternative to basketball for women in 1891 (see our section on the History of Netball for more information). It didn’t take long for its popularity to filter across the Atlantic and by the 1920s, young girls everywhere were playing it. Most women today will remember playing it at school because it has been a staple of physical education programs since the 1920s. However, up until recently there was no competitive competition that encompassed the whole of the UK. There were many local leagues in force, but it took until 2005, over 100 years after it was first invented, for a nationwide league to come into being.
Plans were announced on Tuesday 4th October 2005 by England Netball to launch its very own Super League. England Netball formulated plans to bring about the league as a result of the national side being ranked 4th in the world. There is no doubt that this was an achievement, but England Netball didn’t think that the national side had gone as far as they could go. Countries like Australia made sure that their girls experienced competition week in and week out in preparation for international fixtures, but our English and Welsh netball players only had local competition, which was not good enough in terms of the standard and rigours of international competition.
The Super League was definitely designed to raise the level of quality in England, and so far it has done what it set out to achieve. The national squad won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 after beating Jamaica. The overall performance was phenomenal and demonstrated that weekly competition had definitely helped to improve the standard of the side, and that was after only two full months of competition!
The Super League began in late October 2005 with eight teams in total playing weekly fixtures, both home and away. The teams are Team Bath, Brunel Hurricanes, Loughborough Lightening, Mavericks, Team Northumbria, Northern Thunder, Celtic Dragons and Leeds Met Carnegie. The inaugural season proved to be extremely popular and thus it was decided that the league would continue. It is now coming to the start of the second season of the Super League and it is proving to be as popular as ever and no doubt the England team will continue to go from strength to strength as a result.