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New Zealand netball great remembered at new age-group championships

New Zealand age-group teams from around the country will be playing for a slice of netball history when they compete for the Margaret Forsyth Cup this week.

Thirty-eight teams have gathered at the Rotorua Netball Centre for the inaugural Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs where they will play for the cup named in memory of one of New Zealand’s greatest players.

Forsyth, who passed away earlier this year, was New Zealand’s youngest Silver Fern to play at a Netball World Cup having been selected as a 17-year-old seventh former at Hillcrest High School.

Netball New Zealand Convenor of Emerging Talent Panel, Adrienne Morrin, said it was fitting for the Under-18 teams to be contesting a Cup named after a player who had achieved so much at a young age.

“It’s a bit of an emotional week for us because Marg had been an Emerging Talent Selector before she went off to be the Magic’s assistant coach,” she said.

“Marg was an astute selector and she would have touched the lives of many of the players here when she was called in for specialist sessions as a former New Zealand shooter.”

It is the first year of the National Under-18 Champs which would be a key event for national selectors to “consolidate and track” emerging talent from around the country.

Morrin said there were two tiers that selectors were considering at the four-day tournament including players who were eligible for the New Zealand Under-21 squad and New Zealand Secondary Schools squad.

“This tournament could be that first step on the high performance pathway for a lot of these players, particularly looking ahead to something like the next World Youth Cup.”

Missing from the pool play on day one was the Marlborough team which pulled out of the championships following the devastating weather events and regional state of emergency last weekend.

Morrin said the team and their families had been in the thoughts of the tournament organisers and netballers gathered in Rotorua.

Teams were finding their feet on day one of the tournament where round robin play within the eight pools would determine which sides progressed to the top 16 for post section play.

Auckland 1 set the standard on the opening day with two big wins in Pool E while Waitakere (Pool A), Eastern Waikato (Pool B), Dunedin (Pool D), Christchurch Red (Pool G) and Hamilton City (Pool H) also all netted two wins.

The tournament continues with round robin play on Tuesday to determine the top 16 from where quarter and semi-finalists will be found. The Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs final will be played on Thursday at 2.45pm.