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Pala’amo excited for new era of men’s and mixed

After nearly 20 years as President of New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball, David Pala’amo is excited to see where others can take the sport.

“I think men’s netball has come to a great place and it’s time for some other people to take it even further,” he said having stepped down from the role.

Pala’amo said he had proudly watched the Cadbury Netball Series over the past two years where the men’s game in particular came into the public spotlight, making history with their first official series against the Silver Ferns.

“There have been some big steps taken in recent years and it’s exciting to see where those steps take us now.”

He had also witnessed other significant milestones in his time including the introduction of the national mixed netball championships just over a decade ago.

“I think that changed the landscape for us,” he said.

“But also when we moved from playing outdoors on concrete to indoors, I think that was a game changer. I think it showed a professionalism and opened up the game to so many.”

Pala’amo, who was recognised for his contribution to the sport in 2017 with a Netball New Zealand Service Award, started his netball career on those concrete courts when he was introduced to the game after school.

He became even more involved when moving to Dunedin where he picked up the whistle and began what has been a lengthy career running the sidelines as an umpire.

“Umpiring is my passion. It took me to the world stage and it’s something that I just really enjoy.”

Pala’amo retired from top level umpiring in 2010 having officiated at Netball World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the trans-Tasman competition.

He continues to whistle games and despite the disrupted COVID season in 2020, has carried on work as an umpire assessor and coach for Netball New Zealand.

“I’ve had a lot of good memories from umpiring and from my time in the game,” he said.

Winning the national men’s championship with Canterbury for 18 consecutive years ranks highly for Pala’amo when he reminisces about his career, as does the men’s national team’s first win over Australia.

“The first time we beat Australia in 1995 in Rotorua was really special. Coaching the U23 team was also something that stands out.

“It’s easy now to see just how far men’s netball has come but there are obviously always further gains to be made.

“I’d love to see a truly global Men’s Netball World Cup,” he said.

There had been series which had included Pacific teams and the Australians but a World Cup event that involved northern hemisphere sides was something Pala’amo hope to see in the future.

“Financially that’s always going to be tough and now of course just that little bit harder with everything that’s going on in the world. But yes, that would be my ultimate goal.”

Pala’amo acknowledges such changes are a big ask in a sport that remains largely driven by an army of volunteers.

“Netball just wouldn’t be where it is without its volunteer base,” he said.

“Grassroots netball is so very important and to be able to recognise the volunteers, the life members, who give so much to this sport - they are remarkable.

“I think that’s what makes netball so special.”