The latest netball world rankings were released this week and whilst there is little change in the top 15 (in fact none at all for the four home nations), there has been a lot of activity between positions 16 and 30, including, as you can see, some wonderful news for the “Girls in Green”.
By far the biggest climber is Grenada, who have jumped up a massive nine places to lie just outside the world’s top 20. It is a notable achievement for the Caribbean islanders, who acquitted themselves so well during the recent Euros in Newcastle—in fact they were the only side to beat Ireland during the tournament. Much of their game (and success) is built around their six feet plenty goal shooter Lottysha Cato, but these rankings are all about teams and not individuals, and congratulations are due to every member of the Grenadan squad.
Where there’s a climber, there must be a faller and Saint Lucia have dropped six to no.24. Sri Lanka and another competitor at the Euros, the United States, have both slipped three places in the standings, and Switzerland have dropped out of the top 30 altogether. That said it’s good to see Gibraltar making an appearance in thirtieth position. Not been a bad week for the tiny peninsular, with one of its football clubs–Lincoln Red Imps—humbling the mighty Celtic in a Champions League qualifier a couple of days ago….
But with due respect to all those countries whose efforts have been rewarded with a higher ranking (in particular Uganda, up from no.13 to no.11), the best news is that Ireland have moved up one place to no.25.
If you think that’s nothing special given the relative positions of the UK teams, then you’d be wrong.
Rankings are earned by compliance with strict criteria, including a requirement to play a minimum number of international fixtures within a defined timeframe. Such requirements are difficult to fulfil when your country gets no central funding and the girls essentially have to pay for the privilege of representing their country… training… kit… travel… accommodation… etc….
Tournaments for the lower-ranked clubs are few and far between; Ireland’s next major competition is in Singapore in September–hardly on the doorstep.
What coach Joan Young, captain Níamh Murphy and all the girls have accomplished is fantastic and, having spent some time with the squad and gained a bit of an insight into their collective determination, dedication, pride and ability, I am thrilled for everyone involved. I will be raising a glass to the Ireland Netball squad tonight… and hopefully considerably more glasses when Elaine and I pay a proper visit Dublin in October.