by Neil Corbett
The BC Winter Games represents the pinnacle of netball competition in B.C.
Five girls teams started round-robin play on Friday morning, working toward an appearance in the gold medal game at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
Netball is a close cousin of basketball, but it is strictly a passing game, with no dribbling allowed. Although popular in British Commonwealth nations as the traditional “women’s version” of basketball, it was only introduced to B.C. in 1975, and there are some 2,000 women and children who play it here.
One of the tournament organizers at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre Games site is Anne Wilcocks, who has been the coach of Team Canada.
“Our goal is to have the kids play as much netball as possible,” she said, explaining that each of the five teams involved will play six games over Friday and Saturday, before Sunday’s medal games.
What’s more, the tourney offers rules that enforce every player will be on the floor for at least five quarters over the course of the Games.
“You don’t want to have kids come and sit on the bench all weekend,” noted Wilcocks.
Burnaby is the hotbed of netball in B.C., and Zone 4 (Fraser River-Delta) won gold at the last BC Games. This year, Zone 4 has two teams entered in the tournament, 4 and 4B.
Barriere also has a netball club that forms the backbone of the Zone 2 (Thompson-Okanagan) team. And the other competitors are Zone 3 (Fraser Valley) and Zone 5 (Vancouver Squamish).