Netball was established in Australia and New Zealand prior to 1901. It was initially called Women’s Basketball, in which the name was changed to ‘netball’ in 1970 in both countries.
The ‘All Australian Women’s Basketball Association’ was formed in August 1927. After a number of interstate matches had taken place across the country, the first official National Championships were held in 1928 in Melbourne.
Australia’s first International match was played in 1938 against New Zealand during the National Championships in Melbourne, where Australia defeated New Zealand 40-11.
In 1939, an Australian team was selected to tour New Zealand. However, with the outbreak of war, the tour was negated and it was not until 1948 that a tour took place. Australia by this time was playing seven-a-side games, but New Zealand (until 1956) played nine-a-side. Fortunately for Australia the tour consisted of seven-a-side games.
A landmark in the history of netball was when Australia travelled by ship to be the first overseas team to visit England. It was a Women’s Basketball team going to the birthplace of netball, and having to adapt to different rules, but the Australian team won 54 of 57 games, including the test against England (14-11) at Wembley Stadium before a crowd of more than 5,000.
Following this successful tour, a conference was held in London in 1957, to agree on an International Code of Rules to be trialled in each country over the next three years.
In 1963, the first World Tournament was held in England with 11 teams competing, in which Australia was undefeated. World Championships are staged every four years and Australia has been titleholders on eight of these occasions.
Netball was a demonstration sport at the Auckland Games in 1990 but was not included in the Commonwealth Games program for the first time until 1998 in Kuala Lumpur. Australia won the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in 1998, 2002 and 2014.