Everything you need to know about netball, positions, teams, and where to play netball in Dubai
20 August 2019| Last updated on 21 August 2019
An exciting variation of basketball, netball is steadily growing in popularity among expats in Dubai...
General knowledge of netball in Dubai is quite limited. Many expat women from the UK and Commonwealth countries and students studying under the British curriculum are aware of the sport and have likely played it during their school years... but just how big is the netball scene in Dubai?
Those who are familiar with netball may know that the sport isn't as hailed and praised as basketball, despite the similarities and the latter being the source sport.
Netball is a game developed by women for women, with over 100 years of history that kick-started towards the end of the Victorian era. A teacher at the Physical Training College located in England, Madame Martina Bergman-Österberg, adapted traditional basketball rules to suit the female students. During that time, it was one of the few sports considered suitable for women to play, including croquet, tennis, skating, and more.
The adapted sport was later named netball. It's a game that demands speed, quick-thinking, teamwork, and rhythm.
However, its intricate rules may turn off most players as it lacks the chance for everyone in the team to score a goal, including the lack of flairs like slam dunks for that superstar of the game.
Despite its label as "uncool", it's a thriving sport in Dubai that's enjoyed by many women and (to people's surprise) men from a mix of different nationalities.
Read on to learn more about netball, netball rules and positions, where to play netball in Dubai, and what competitive opportunities are available.
What is netball?
Netball is a no-contact ball sport comprised of two teams with seven players each. Largely attributed to its history as an adapted sport, netball is popular in the UK, Australia, and South Africa, and it's mostly played by women.
The team with the most points after the end of the game wins. One netball game runs for four, 15-minute quarters. One goal is equal to one point.
In order to score a goal, you need to shoot the ball from the opposing side's Shooting Circle into their Goal. Netball requires more teamwork than basketball as there is a strict three-sound rule. Unlike basketball, netball players aren't allowed to dribble or hold onto the ball while strategising. Once a netball player catches a ball, they only have three seconds to pass it on to another team member or risk the rival team getting a free pass.
The opposing team will try to intercept a pass to stop your team from scoring, and the same goes for your team. Each play starts with a pass from the Centre of the court, with both teams alternating in who gets the ball.
The netball court
A regular netball court is 100 ft long and 50 ft wide, which is divided into thirds: a Centre Third and each team's Goal Third on both sides.
Within each Goal Third is a semi-circle for the Goal Circle. Both Goal Circles have a goal post with a net that is usually 10 ft high with no backboards.
Both teams are assigned their own Goal Third in the court. One team must defend its Goal Third and score points within the other team's Goal Third, and vice versa. Each team switches their sides of the court once a new quarter begins.
Pictured: Netball court diagram with labels
What are the netball positions
A netball team requires seven players, each with designated positions, rules, and an area of the court where they must play and areas where they cannot.
If you're keen on playing netball in Dubai, here is the list of player positions for netball:
Goal Keeper (GK)
A netball Goal Keeper guards the goal circle and is the last line of defence against the opposing team's Goal Shooter. Constant watch on the ball is required so they can intercept passes, shoots, and collect rebounds off the goal post.
They're typically one of the tallest players in the team, as the height helps in fiercely protecting the goal post.
Goal Defence (GD)
The Goal Defence stays in the Goal Third area and Goal Circle. Their main role is to stop the rival team from scoring and to get the ball out of shooting range, so they must be quick to anticipate the opposing team's attacks, block them, and get the ball to their own players. A close eye on the other team's Goal Attack is a must.
Wing Defence (WD)
The Wing Defence patrols the Centre and Defensive Third areas, but they cannotenter the Goal Circle. WD's jobs are to prevent the ball from reaching the opposing team's Goal Circle, intercept passes, and shoot the ball back to the attacking areas - thus this position requires a strong focus and careful control of the ball. WDs must also keep a mark on the opposing Wing Attack.
A Centre player can go anywhere in the court except the Goal Circles. Whenever a goal is scored, the ball has to be returned to the Centre so they can begin the next play.
They're relied on by the team to move the ball away from the defensive side into an attack for a goal, thus they must be versatile when shifting between defence and attack. Centre players are typically the smallest and swiftest player in the team.
Wing Attack (WA)
A Wing Attack can move in the Centre Third and rival team's Goal Third. Their key role is to get the ball down the correct side of the court to help build up the chance for a goal.
Goal Attack (GA)
The Goal Attack is permitted to roam in Centre Third, and the opposition's Goal Third and Goal Circle. The Goal Attack works closely with the Goal Shooter so that they can get the ball past the rival Goal Defence. Like the Goal Shooter, they're allowed to shoot goals as well.
Goal Shooter (GS)
As the name implies, the Game Shooter's role is to shoot goals to score points. They are one of the very few in the team who are permitted to do so. For the GS to score a goal, they must either be in the opposing team's Goal Third or Goal Circle. They cannot shoot from elsewhere in the court.
Rules of netball
Additional rules that are important to note when playing:
- A defensive player must be no less than 3 ft. away from the player holding the ball in order to intercept a pass
- If they're closer then the opposing team will get a free, penalty pass and the player who violated the rules must stand aside
- Players cannot shoot for a goal unless they're in the opposing team's Goal Circle - it's not counted as a goal if it's from anywhere else in the court
Where to play netball in Dubai
There is a good selection of public spaces to play netball in while in Dubai. Most are outdoors, but there are some netball courts located in closed, air-conditioned spaces as well.
- Sports Village
- Dubai Netball League (DNL)
- My Netball Club
- RU-Active: Dubai Netball
A sports club that offers indoor facilities for eight sports every season, including netball. Check their website to find available timing and venue slots as the location varies.
Located in Dubai Sports City Gate 1, Sports Village has an abundance of outdoor and indoor courts.
A non-profit organisation comprised of teams of varying age, skill level, and backgrounds. Whether you're new to the Dubai netball scene or you've been playing netball for years, it's a great community to join. They organise friendly and competitive matches within Dubai and between other emirates.
DNL is located in the Sevens Stadium, with games every Tuesday and Wednesday night between 7 - 10 PM.
My Netball Club (MNC) is part of My Sports Academy and it's split into four groups based on skill level and age: Born to Play (Ages 3 - 5), Learn to Play (Ages 6 - 8), Development (Ages 9+), and Academy (Ages 9+). MNC is aimed more towards children and teenagers who want to develop their skills in netball and enjoy it as an afterschool activity. Their netball facilities are located at Jebel Ali School and JESS Arabian Ranches.
RU Active provides netball facilities, recourses, support, and professional coaching. They offer a series of programs that can match any netball skill level. Throughout the year, RU Active runs a variety of netball tournaments, competitions, and events in Dubai for local, regional, and touring netball teams to participate in.