Welsh Netball Association (WNA) mission have always been to promote and develop Netball within Wales by organising domestic and international competition and disseminating knowledge. Today this is done by the Officers, Directors and professional staff of the WNA on behalf of the members.
The exact date when the Association was founded is not known, but, despite this, there is evidence that Netball was played in Wales in the late 1930’s when a Miss George, of the YMCA, organised matches for the South Wales Coalfield Federation and a Miss Pugh Williams arranged matches in Cardiff.
What is known though, is that, sometime between 1943 and 1945, Marion Morton, P.E. Mistress at the Mary Datchelor School, which was evacuated to Llanelli for the duration of World War 2, along with Beatrice Williams, Carmarthen County P.E. Organiser, formed a small committee with other County P.E. Organisers. This later became the WNA, with the English Miss Morton as the first Hon Secretary, Beatrice Williams, Chair, Annie Rogers, HMI, President and Margaret Lewis, later to become an HMI, as Treasurer. In 1981, in the absence of the early records, the Executive Committee of the WNA agreed that the Association be considered to have been founded in 1945.
Welsh Netball Continues to Grow
In the five years that the Mary Datchelor School was in Wales, as well as helping to found the WNA, Marion Morton arranged annual “rallies” for local and evacuated schools and founded the first county team, Carmarthen, which competed in the English Inter-Counties Tournament in 1944/5. Later, one of her pupils, Mary French, helped coach Wales in 1985 and instigated the Mary French Award, for Service to the WNA, in 1989.
For ease of administration, the WNA at that time divided Wales into the two Territories of North and South Wales, the North, including the six Counties of Anglesey, Caernarvon, Denbigh, Flint, Merioneth and Montgomery and the South the remaining seven, Brecon, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Pembroke and Radnor. Representatives of each county joined the Officers of the Association to form an Executive Committee which met three times a year at a central venue, which, until 1967, was either Shrewsbury or Hereford.
Memberships Are Open
Money to pay for the administration of the game came in the form of membership fees and fund raising and in 1952, with the affiliation fee at 4/6p per club, there was just £15 in the Bank and it was not until 1967 that the WNA received its’ first public grant of £130 from the Department of Education and Science. Today the Association has an annual income of over £700,000 with monies coming from affiliation fees, grant aid from Sport Wales, sponsorship, sales and fund-raising, and has grown from the 23 affiliated clubs in 1965 to 195 in 2015.
Time for a Reshuffle
Since its early days, the Association has had four periods of re-organisation, the first in 1963, when a third Territory, Mid Wales was formed, to which the counties of Brecon, Cardigan, Merioneth and Montgomery were transferred; the second in 1974, when Local Authority re-organisation led to the WNA abolishing the three Territories and replacing them and the Counties with the eight Areas that exist today; the third in 1988 when the first member of staff was employed and office opened and the last, and most radical, in 1992, when the Association became a Company Limited by Guarantee and the Executive Committee was replaced by a Board.
As well as promoting Netball within Wales, the Association has been keen to further international relationships and has always been involved in both World and European Netball, having been one of the eight founder members of The International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball Associations (now the International Netball Federation) and a founder member of The Federation of European Netball Associations (now Netball Europe).