Netball, similar to basketball, is tailored for women. Players do not dribble, and they need to pass or shoot within three seconds of receiving the ball. It is played on a court, with seven players on each team, but the hoop has no backboard. Each player has a specific role on the team, and can only move through designated areas of the court.
The separation of roles promotes close teamwork, said team member Nomi Komar. There is also a place for women with different physiques and skill sets, and for both the young and fast and older players who can capitalize on their experience and knowledge of the game.
“It’s a little different from basketball in that everyone has their own role, and they build a team. One person can’t do everything. If you look at the court everyone has their specific area they can go to, which makes for a lot of cooperation,” Komar said.
Netball evolved as an alternative to basketball, one better suited to women. The sport is most popular in Commonwealth nations, especially Australia, the UK and New Zealand, where it is often a part of girls’ physical education curriculum. The International Netball Federation’s top five ranked teams are all members of the Commonwealth.
The sport took root in Israel about 20 years ago in Raanana, said the team’s assistant coach, Shan Berman. Immigrants who grew up with the game and wanted to continue playing formed the first teams. There are now teams playing in six cities, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Raanana. The national team’s players all participate in a local league, and practice together once a week in the city of Modiin in central Israel.