SOME of the ANZ Championship’s best players and emerging young stars will feature in this weekend’s FAST5 Netball World Series being played in New Zealand.
The world’s top six netballing nations have converged on Auckland for the two-day tournament, being played at Vector Arena.
Hosts New Zealand are the defending champions in the FAST5 format and will take on Australia, England, Jamaica, Malawi and South Africa for this year’s title.
FAST5 is a modified version of the game featuring five players on court rather than the traditional seven.
Games are played over four, six-minute quarters and there are unlimited substitutions teams can make.
Goals can be worth one, two or three points depending on where the shots are taken from and goals also count for double during a designated power play period.
The FAST5 Ferns are coached by Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel leader Janine Southby with Northern Mystics centre Laura Langman replacing the injured Casey Kopua as captain.
The FAST5 Ferns were forced to make a late change to their team after veteran Irene van Dyk was ruled out with a back injury.
She’s been replaced by Kia Magic shooter Malia Paseka – but van Dyk will remain with the New Zealand team as a technical advisor for the weekend.
Classy Adelaide Thunderbirds shooter Erin Bell and Mission Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman will co-captain the Australian FAST5 Flyers with former West Coast Fever coach Jane Searle at the helm.
Searle will be assisted by the ANZ Championship’s longest-serving coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson, a two-time title-winning coach at the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
England’s team boasts star shooter Jo Harten (Magic), defenders Ama Agbeze (Haier Pulse) and Eboni Beckford-Chambers (Thunderbirds) and midcourters Jade Clarke (NSW Swifts) and Serena Guthrie, who’s joining Langman at the Mystics in 2015.
The ANZ Championship’s all-time leading goalscorer Romelda Aiken (Firebirds) headlines the Jamaican team while South Africa and Malawi officials will be hoping that the tournament gives their players more exposure to international netball ahead of next year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney.
The Proteas’ FAST5 line-up contains defender Vanes-Mari Du Toit, who spent 2014 in Adelaide training with the Thunderbirds development squad.
The tournament, being played in New Zealand for the third year, is set to be a sell-out and there’s only a handful of tickets left. Click here for more information.
A feature of the Captain’s Call on Wednesday was the announcement of the winner of Barfoot & Thompson’s `Win Your Class To FAST5’ competition, where schools around New Zealand were invited to decorate a house in FAST5 themes.
Valley Primary School, from Pukekohe, was voted the winner by each of the six team captains and received 30 tickets to Saturday’s action at Vector Arena.
You can follow all the FAST5 action via Twitter @Fast5Netball or click here for the tournament website.