The rise and rise of men's netball
Men’s netball can play an important role in supporting mental health, according to top Southland player Dylan Moore.
Moore and fellow Southland representative Lachlan Crosbie have been selected in the New Zealand under 23 team for next year’s World Cup in Perth, the mostly self-funded campaign requiring a long lead-in time to prepare for.
Their selection marks some worthy and hard-earned recognition for the men’s game in Southland, which has been developing since the Steel dynasty at the start of this century.
Southland won the national B grade competition in 2018 and stepped up to A grade for the first time this year, competing against the best provinces in the country at a time when men’s netball has never been stronger in New Zealand.
Moore, who will continue to represent Southland despite moving to Cambridge earlier this year, believes the game has a part to play that is wider than just 60 minutes on the court, especially in supporting men’s wellbeing.
“For me it’s not just about growing the sport and making men’s netball less unorthodox, it’s about getting everyone involved,” Moore said.
“If we can get men from all different backgrounds – in the Southland league we’ve got lawyers, tradies, accountants, teachers, nurses, it’s really good.”
The environment within men’s netball was special and it was great to have that opportunity in a province which historically focused on more traditional sports, he said.
“You see men growing and learning from each other. Men play a lot of team sport, but for men who don’t fit into the likes of rugby, cricket or basketball, it adds another opportunity for men to talk to each other.”
Moore credits the influence of Donna Wilkins and Sarah Hamilton for much of his development, along with the managerial drive which has been provided over a significant period of time by Angee Shand.
Shand’s role in men’s netball extends all the way to the national level as manager of the New Zealand men’s team.
She will talk about the rise and rise of men’s netball as keynote speaker at the South Zone centre forum in Dunedin this weekend.
A New Zealand men’s invitational team beat the Silver Ferns in two hard-fought encounters which screened live on Sky Sport in June.
Men’s captain Matt Wetere talked after the series about the courage which had been shown by Netball New Zealand to put those games on a national stage, while Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman said her team couldn’t have asked for better preparation.
Netball South chief executive Lana Winders said it was noticeable to see a large number of boys sprinkled amongst the 120-odd teams who make up the Southland primary schools competition.
The men have gone from having one team included amongst the top provincial clubs in the Southland-wide League, to having enough clubs to form their own section of the league.
Moore is a great example of the way the sport has developed.
Having tried a variety of sports, he was introduced to the game in 2015, earning selection into the Southland team in his first year of playing.
His commitment to the game, and playing for Southland, has extended to travelling from Cambridge, where he works as a registered nurse, for trials, despite working fulltime and being involved in post-graduate studies.
“I’m proud to represent Southland, I’m a born and bred Southlander,” Moore said.
“We want to remove some of the stigma that netball is a female sport. We see the likes rowing, cycling and hockey as mixed sports now, hopefully a goal for men’s netball is to remove that stigma and get everyone involved.
“If you look at New Zealand, men’s netball is growing and has got huge momentum at the moment. I personally think that a huge moment for the Silver Ferns in going on to win the World Cup was playing the men and playing them on national television.”
Moore plans to keep working on his own game, amongst his other commitments, as he eyes next year’s World Cup.
Despite also being selected in the New Zealand mixed team this year, along with southerner Sophie Erwood, Moore is focusing on being in top shape for next October’s world event.
As a lanky, but slim defender, he is grateful for the physical conditioning advice he’s received from Rebecca Whyte and Desiree Bond in order to be able to compete in the physical men’s game.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.