Net losses before the gains
Steve Bunce reports on a curious lack of support for a world event
Sunday 16 July 1995
In England millions of schoolgirls play and there are nearly 4,000 clubs, but during the ceremony the teams arrived on centre court to just a few scattered shouts until the English team came out last. Their reception was marginally better.
The organisers, presumably in an effort not to appear tawdry, had employed the services of the Midlands Fire Service Band and a group of dancers called the Warwick Courtiers. A large helping of local reggae from Pato Banton or any of the tiny, teeny pop stars who entertain children would have been far better.
It was all so wholesome: Brownies, only leaner. The colourful head-dresses of the Cook Islanders and the traditional clothing of the Ugandan delegates briefly lit a dreadful lost opportunity for the sport to enter into the 1990s.
In the midst of the world's finest netball players the debutante USA team chewed gum and appeared amazingly relaxed.
"It may be our first time but there are plenty of experienced players in our team," said Jamaican born but Florida based Jacqueline Shaw, the president of the USA netball association. She was not kidding.
The entire 12 members of the USA team are from the West Indies. Many like Sybil Smith have competed in previous World Cups. Smith, originally from St Lucia but now working as an accountant in Brooklyn, competed at the 1979 games in Trinidad.
At the other end of the warm-up area the Republic of Ireland's genial squad of innocents were in stark contrast to the methodical and blase USA squad. "We have heard that the Americans are full of West Indians. We expected at least a few American girls but we're not too worried - we will see how they get on in their first game against the Malaysia," said World Cup veteran Claire Reid.
Others in the Republic's team had a curious look of resignation on their faces as they outlined various reasons why Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand have dominated every World Cup since its inception in 1963.
"They play a much harder and physical game. We are more skilful," said Dubliner Catrine Lawler. There are only 12 clubs in the Republic compared to Australia where there are over one million affiliated adult netballers.
The event will last two weeks and the most likely final is Australia against New Zealand and if that were to happen, it is feasible that the crowds would actually diminish. What the event needs is English or British success and the emergence of a player equivalent to the All Blacks' rugby star Jonah Lomu.
In fact, there are some Western Samoan and Cook Island competitors who share similar physical similarities with Lomo, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to upset the stylish Jamaicans or the forceful Australian and New Zealand.
Latest in Sport
Bath vs Saracens Premiership Final match preview: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Hector Bellerin: How saying no to Barcelona paid off for Bellerin - and Arsenal
Paul Scholes column: With Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Fifa corruption live: Sepp Blatter tries to shift attention to Uefa and says he expects more from US investigators
David Gill rejects Fifa vice-president role after Sepp Blatter wins election because of the 'terribly damaging events' under his reign
- 1 Engineer pictured fixing plane's engine with 'duct tape' by concerned EasyJet passenger
- 2 Two-year-old says goodbye to bin man best friend
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...