Uganda’s She-Cranes have closed in on Malawi netball Queens on the latest world rankings, with International Netball Federation (INF) warning teams that they risk sliding in the next ratings scheduled for June.
Until a few years ago minnows, Uganda have, in the latest rankings, risen to position seven in the world and third in Africa, just next to the Queens who have, in the last three years, been static on position six in the world and second in the continent.
Nikki Richardson, who is responsible for the rankings, was quoted by the world netball governing body’s website as advising teams to play enough matches, so that they are protected from the next annual update.
He said if a team has played eight matches but three of them are in the oldest year, then when it comes to the first of July and the next update, those three old ones will go.
“Rankings play a crucial part in determining qualification to major events such as Commonwealth Games. On a given date, July 1, it is the top-12 eligible countries who go through.
If you are around the cutoff area, and you have got a Commonwealth Games spot at stake, then it certainly focuses the mind. To that extent, the rankings system is more than just general interest; it has become part of the infrastructure of the sport, in so far as the rankings are driving qualification.”
“If countries want to avoid disappointment, they should reflect on how many matches they need to play by June 30 to ensure that they don’t lose their place on the rankings on that date. It is always worth thinking ahead, a year in advance of your fixtures,”
INF engaged Richardson to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the rankings.
“I do believe that countries have been motivated by getting a ranking,” Richardson told the website, “Once a country has it, they don’t want to drop off the table. If you look across the 10-year period, I believe that the world rankings have acted as an incentive to some countries to play more than they would otherwise have done – which must be good for the game as a whole.
“Countries were able to set objective targets which were measurable, good from a governance and management perspective, and I think made it potentially easier to get investment, whether from sponsors or government funding. It gave more context to matches throughout; it gave countries a higher profile, and a better story to tell,” Richardson said.
He said the latest rankings reflect results of games that were played until January 2018.
The Queens, who are bound for the Commonwealth Games scheduled for Australia next month, have stagnated on the rankings’ table due to inactivity and dip on form.
The Queens, who are in camp, rarely play test matches and head into the Commonwealth Games on the back of 10 consecutive defeats in all competitions.
“The biggest movers are the Cook Islands who now have a ranking once again.
They move into 17th following their clean sweep of victories at the Mission Foods Nations Cup. Swaziland are also big movers following a successful Nations Cup, they rise up eight spaces to 23rd,” reads www.inf.org.
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