Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (19:11): I second the motion. I would like to thank the member for Lalor for moving this motion and for the scarf. The 2015 ANZ Championship final held on Sunday, 21 June at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was one of the great sporting events in our nation’s history. The record shows the Queensland Firebirds defeated New South Wales Swifts 57-56. The packed house saw a game where the Swifts led for the entire match, except for the final minute. This was a level of drama unrivalled in professional sport.
Over the past eight years, the ANZ Championship has grown into a world-class competition, drawing large crowds and television audience numbers and showing off the sublime skills and athleticism of the world’s best netballers. Over 14 home and away rounds between March and July, five Australian and five New Zealand teams battle out for the ultimate prize in the world’s best netball league.
The ANZ Championship is the first professional netball competition in Australasia, and hearty congratulations deserve to be given to Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand for uniting and running this most impressive tournament. Our two nations have dominated the international history of netball, winning every world championship title since 1963. All going to script, this record should continue in the Netball World Cup, which is taking place right now in Sydney. In front of a world record 16,223 fans yesterday, the Silver Ferns ended Australia’s 21 match winning streak. Whilst disappointing, these are just the pool games, and I am sure all of us will send our support to the Diamonds to win when it really counts in the final on Sunday.
As I have often spoken in this place, my passion for sport is first and foremost for the encouragement of participation and healthy activity of people of all ages. Our elite sports men and women inspire us to achieve greater goals, which provide untold benefits to society and the economy. This is clearly evident in the sport of netball, which has the third-highest participation rate of any sport in Australia, boasting 371,000 participants on 2011-12 ABS figures. This exceeds football sports, basketball, cricket and even my former profession.
In Bennelong I regularly see the extraordinary participation with the amazing local organisation ERNA, the Eastwood Ryde Netball Association, under the strong, effective, tireless and loving leadership or Anne Doring. ERNA provides access to sport for people ranging in ages from six to 60—and there are a few who are lying about their age. The regular season runs from April to September and there is a mixed night competition from September through to December. ERNA is growing at pace. This year ERNA boasted 431 teams with 4,500 members—a 20 per cent increase in the past five years. These teams play on 27 hard courts at Meadowbank Park—a number that Anne Doring will regularly remind me is not enough—with 150 games per week totalling a massive 2,100 matches over the course of the season. Brush Farm Park has four hard courts and 12 grass courts that host 50 games per week. In the state league, ERNA were runners-up this year in division 1 Waratah Cup, following seven grand final appearances in the past eight years. ERNA also came third in division 2, won division 3 and were runners-up in division 5.
Next year the new premier league will replace the Waratah Cup as the highest level of competition in New South Wales featuring the best players in the state who are at the forefront of selection for the ANZ Championship. ERNA was one of only eight clubs selected by the Netball NSW Premier League. As Anne Doring wrote to me with excitement, ‘Go Eastwood Ryde.’ ERNA’s success, both on and off the court, has led to a very long list of participants going on to play at the highest levels, representing their state and the nation. This list includes current Diamond, Firebird and 2015 ANZ champion all-star, Kimberley Ravaillion.
This is a most extraordinary club that continues to reinvest into the local community. As an example, ERNA is running a NetSetGo beginners program in August-September, with a plan to attract 50 more kids between the ages of five and eight. ERNA recently advertised in local schools and has already received 100 children’s applications. ERNA’s engagement with the local community and the positive social and health benefits that flow from that are second to none in Bennelong. I wish to take this opportunity, through this motion, to congratulate ERNA for its great contribution and successes.