Basketball was played in Ashburton as early as 1920 by Primary School teams then Secondary school teams, at the Ashburton Domain on grass courts.
This was a 9 aside game with a larger court about 2 feet either side. The courts were often muddy & the girls laid pine needles so they didn't slip. At the half time break they did repairs with the pine needles again.In 1921 Tournaments were held for Primary and Secondary schools against Christchurch teams with Representative teams also competing against Christchurch and Timaru. 1922 saw Ashburton Borough School play Summerfield School at Lancaster Park as a "curtain raiser" for the Rugby, a report in the paper stated …' was notably one of the fastest games witnessed in Christchurch. The last 6 points scored were penalties against Ashburton who play, according to the official rules, whereas Summerfield School team play under what are known as the Auckland rules.' The game showed that one set of rules were needed.In 1923 Ashburton Basketball Association was formed. Teams were mainly Church teams and High and Technical Secondary school teams. Mr R J Thomson, (Principle Technical School) and Mr S G McFarlane, (Headmaster Hampstead Primary School) played a major role in the early years.1924 was the first Annual General Meeting. Officers were - President R J Thomson, Secretary Miss E P Thompson. Mr Thomson was President 1924-1932. In 1927 Ashburton became affiliated to New Zealand Basketball Assocication - they had 10 teams.Ashburton Basketball Referees Association was formed In 1930 by Messrs McFarlane and Thomson. Mr McFarlane was the President of this Association until 1952.On 4 August the pavilion was opened in the domain and the new grounds were nicely sheltered and had been rolled.By 1933 Ashburton Basketball had a total of 31 teams, (over 300 girls), taking part on Saturdays.S G McFarlane was appointed President of the New Zealand Basketball Referees’ Association and to the board of Examiners in 1935, R J Thomson was appointed secretary.The Association numbers continued to grow with the 1932 Representive team being strong enough to win the Presidents Shield for 2nd Grade, at the New Zealand Tournament in Invercargill. This followed a string of successes at NZ Tournaments - 1935 Hayhurst Cup - runnerup 2nd grade, 1936 Winner Section 2, Christchurch, 1937 Hayhurst - runnerup 2nd grade.In 1948 it was decided to Asphalt the Domain Courts, each court was to cost £150. (Six years later the costs were £400 each.) Fund raising was started with a Queen Carnival, Marie Martin was crowned Queen. No representative teams were sent to NZ Tournament in 1948, 1949 and 1950 as funds were channelled into the ashphalt court fund. Frustration was setting in with the District Council over costing for the courts and a suggestion was made to purchase their own land - this did not happen. further fundraising was done in the form of drama groups putting on one act plays and a photo competition - 'Popular Girl Competition'. By 1952 Mr JB Cullen and Mr Lane were preparing a tender for the courts.In 1950 the Mayoress of Timaru, Christine Hanan, donated a shield to be played for between Timaru, Ashburton Oamaru and Temuka. This is still played for annually. Myra Porter qualified for her NZBRA badge in 1951.Subscriptions in 1951 were 7/-(shillings) Senior, 5/6 (5 shillings & 6 pence) Junior. Contributions to the courts 3d (pence) those not receiving wages, and 6d for all other players, later to be known as Court Fees. That year a combined Ashburton/ Timaru team played two games against an Australian team, in a 9-aside (Basketball) game which the Ashburton/Timaru team won but the tables were turned in the 7- aside (Netball) game. Each country then, played the two slightly different games.Wednesday afternoon was 'Sports Afternoon' for the towns Primary Schools, each school sent teams to the Domain grounds for their respective sport. Basketball grading was done by height - Senior, Junior, and Midget. If you were short, you were a Midget all your Primary school days. Representative teams were chosen from the Senior grade and teams went to Christchurch for tournaments, being billetted over one or two nights with the other teams families- very stressful for 10-12 year olds who had never slept away from home before!Mr McFarlane was made a Life Member of the Ashburton Basketball Assoc when he gave up his long term as President in 1953. In 1953 Miss M Feron obtained a bar to her Referee Badge and she and Mrs Myra Porter refereed at New Zealand.Basketball Tournament in Invercargill. The following year saw Mrs Eileen Penman and Miss Margaret O'Grady pass the N.Z.Referees badge.The four new asphalt courts were finally opened in 1954 where official guests watched NZ Dominion President Mrs R Lane declare them open. With two courts still only with grass, it was decided these had to be asphalted. Borrowing the money from the Borough Council, these were done and the £769-15-6d was repaid in 1956.Mrs E.D.Mabin the then President of the Ashburton Basketball Association was chosen as a South Island team selector in 1955. Eileen Hoglund (Penman) was appointed to referee the North V South game at the 2nd Grade NZ Tournament and Mrs Mabin was SI Selector.Primary School Grade was started on Saturday mornings in 1956 with eight teams.1957 Olive Husband was Selector/Coach for the South Island. 1958 Ashburton Representative team was joint winners of the 3rd grade and also the Christine Hanan Shield.A proposal put to the committee by Mr Connelly, the President of the R.S.A. and Mr.Nicoll President of the Centennial Sports Hall Association were asked to combine with them in running a Queen Carnival in March, April, May 1957. This very successful event saw the whole town involved with concerts, potato picking, raffles, cake stalls etc. finishing with the Queen Carnival Ball and the three Associations receiving a good financial return.In 1960 Miss Patricia Rowe was nominated for the first NZ Basketball trials, held in Wellington. In 1961 the Ashburton Representative team had a very good year, they were promoted to 2nd Grade after winning the 3rd Grade Kiwi Trophy. They also won the Christine Hanan Shield and Cecillia Brown Trophy against Oamaru. Eileen Penman refereed at NZ Tournament in Dunedin and was appointed to umpire the North v South game. After nine years of waiting in the queue, the Selwyn Toogood Show ''It's in the Bag" finally made it and it was a good fundraiser in 1963.In 1964 the 'short skirt' battle started - it was decreed that gym frocks must be no shorter than 8 inches off the ground when kneeling!!Barbara Brown, a former Ashburton Representative player was chosen in 1965 to play in the Commonwealth Basketball team against an All England team that played at Wembley Indoor Stadium. Barbara was on a two year tour/holiday and was the only player from the South Island. All England won 39-37.By 1968 vandals were costing the Association a considerable amount of money with the pavilion and courts being targeted. Drastic fund raising activities were needed to send the A representative team away each year, so a fund raising committee was formed. Country Days were introduced, ie town teams travelled to the country to play.In 1957 a meeting was held in England to form an International Body. A set of playing rules was drawn up & countries asked to try them. This meant significant changes for New Zealand from a 9 a-side to a 7 a-side game, smaller court, uniform change & rules. Ashburton played the new rules in 1958 & all Associations were playing the 7 a-side game by 1959. The name change from Basketball to Netball & Referees to Umpires came in 1970 with a number of rule changes again.A first sponsor goal day raised an unexpected $1236. Annette Orangi was chosen as the NZ Umpire to travel with the NZ team to the World Netball Champs in Jamica. The following year, 1971, she was the first recipent of the Mid Canterbury Sports Award. It was a great honour for Netball in Ashburton.By 1972 our team numbers had increased to 59 afternoon teams and 32 primary and intermediate morning teams. Coaching seminars were commenced for coaches and umpires. 30 netballers waitressed at the charity fundraiser - Bavarian Beer Festival (lots of fun was had) and our payment for this was presented to the IHC in Ashburton.The Association held a weekend of celebrations for the 50th Jubilee in 1973. This also 'kicked off' fundraising with 'Buy a Block' for the new pavilion. Former Ashburton player and committee member, Pat Cullen was appointed Secretary to NZ Netball Association. Mavis Smith was appointed SI Selector at NZ Tournament. Introduction of Ashburton Midweek Netball for married women and shift workers - this was a forerunner to Presidents Grade.MID CANTERBURY NETBALL LIFE MEMBERS PAST AND PRESENT
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