Netball is a ball sport played by two teams of seven players. Netball is most popular in many Commonwealth nations, specifically in schools, and is predominantly played by women. According to the INF, netball is played by more than 20 million people in more than 80 countries.
Major domestic leagues in the sport include the Netball Superleague in Great Britain, Suncorp Super Netball in Australia and the ANZ Premiership in New Zealand. Four major competitions take place internationally: the quadrennial World Netball Championships, the Commonwealth Games, and the yearly Quad Series and Fast5 Series.
Games are played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end. Each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through its goal ring. Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court.
During general play, a player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds before shooting for a goal or passing to another player. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals. Netball games are 60 minutes long. Variations have been developed to increase the game's pace and appeal to a wider audience.
Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960, international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women's Basketball (later renamed the International Netball Federation (INF)) was formed. As of 2019, the INF comprises more than 70 national teams organized into five global regions.
Netball emerged from early versions of basketball and evolved into its own sport as the number of women participating in sports increased. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith in the United States. The game was initially played indoors between two teams of nine players, using an association football that was thrown into closed-end peach baskets. Naismith's game spread quickly across the United States and variations of the rules soon emerged. Physical education instructor Senda Berenson developed modified rules for women in 1892
The World Netball Championships have been held every four years since then. The World Youth Netball Championships started in Canberra in 1988, and have been held roughly every four years since. In 1995, the International Olympic Committee recognized the International Federation of Netball Associations. Three years later netball debuted at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Other international competitions also emerged in the late 20th century, including the Nations Cup and the Asian Netball Championship.
As of 2006, the IFNA recognises only women's netball. Men's netball teams exist in some areas but attract less attention from sponsors and spectators. Men's netball started to become popular in Australia during the 1980s, and the first men's championship was held in 1985. In 2004, New Zealand and Fiji sent teams to compete in the Australian Mixed and Men's National Championships.
By 2006, mixed netball teams in Australia had as many male participants as rugby union. Other countries with men's national teams include Canada, Fiji, Jamaica, Kenya, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Unlike women's netball at elite and national levels, men's and mixed gender teams are largely self-funded
An all-transgender netball team from Indonesia competed at the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. The team had been the Indonesian national champions. At the 2000 Gay Games VI in Sydney, netball and volleyball were the two sports with the highest rates of transgender athletes participating. There were eight teams of indigenous players, with seven identifying as transgender. They came from places like Palm Island in northern Queensland, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.