A netball history timeline: the when, who, and where

With 76,000 people getting involved in netball in 2021 alone, the game plays a key part in UK sport. So there’s no surprise that there’s an interesting history on netball that comes with it.

Did you know netball started out over 100 years ago off the back of another sport? Or that some of the rules we play by now were mistakes? See, there’s more than just the netball rules of thumb that your budding shooters and centres should know about.

So to help your team get familiar with the who, when, and where of the sport, Sport Experiences have put together a netball history timeline. Covering key moments and people from the history of netball, serve them up a newfound look at their favourite game.

And if you want to give your team a chance to go down in netball history, why not sign them up to our International Youth Festival of Netball at Disneyland® Paris? They’re ready to answer all your post-Brexit travelling FAQs.


The who, when, where of the history of netball

Who invented netball? Dr James Naismith invented basketball, which Clara Baer adapted into netball

When was netball invented? Basketball was invented in 1891, which inspired the invention of netball in 1895

Where was netball invented? The game originates from basketball, which was invented in the United States. But netball became popular in the UK.


Standout moments from the netball history timeline

Any sportsman or woman knows exactly what’s gone into the sport they know and love. Our suggestion? Set your team the task of learning the below timeline and create a warm up game based around reciting the facts in your next training session.


1891: After being tasked with inventing an indoor sports game for ‘high-spirited young men’ at the YMCA, basketball is invented by Canadian immigrant Dr James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States.

1895: The game is eventually adapted and shaped for female players to create a new game: netball. A sports teacher in New Orleans, Clara Baer, asked Naismith for a copy of the rules featuring drawings of the court. She interpreted the court lines as ‘no-go’ zones, which is where the rule differences came from.

1897: Following a gradual transition from basketball, the first netball match is played in Dartford, England, at Madame Ostenburg’s College after becoming a firm favourite in many British Commonwealth countries.

1901: The first set of rules are created by the Physical Education Association. Clara Baer’s blunder from 1895 is written into the rules, cementing the netball ‘no-go’ zones.

1926: The first official netball governing body is formed: the All England Netball Association - now known as England Netball.

1932: The first ever national competition, the All England Inter County Tournament, is played on 9th July 1932 at Eltham Hill Secondary School. Essex go down in netball history, taking home the first County Champions title.

1949: The first England vs Scotland and England vs Wales international matches took place on 7th May 1949. Both match scores tallied up to 25-3 in England’s favour both times.

1960: New international rules were decided on to establish The International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball, by representatives from England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and The West Indies at a meeting in Sri Lanka. The decision to hold World Championship tournaments every four years was also made.

1963: The first netball World Championships take place in Eastbourne, England, as decided three years before in a previous meeting. The championships are now known as the Netball World Championships.


Think your team could go down in netball history?

Enrol your budding team in our International Youth Festival of Netball at Disneyland® Paris taking place in April and October 2022. Request a quote today.