Bunbury Netball Association Established in 1947, by Josh Zimmerman and Maureen Simmons
In 1946 Vera Linton placed advert in the South West Times Newspaper calling for interested parties to meet at the RSL Hall if they were interested in Netball. A big turnout suggested strong support for women’s sport and the following year a competition began. Originally netball was called women’s basketball and it wasn’t till the late 1960’s that Netball received its name. It did not take long for the South West to establish a reputation as a netball stronghold. Under the careful guidance of founding President Kit Keddie, Treasurer Beth Nunn and Secretary Vera Linton, netball rapidly grew in popularity and found its first home on grass courts at Queen’s Gardens near the Bunbury CBD.
In 1949 the Association sent two senior teams to Country Week for the first time, winning the title and setting in motion more than six decades of dominance at the carnival, especially in the earlier years when Bunbury claimed six A-grade shields in 10 attempts from 1949-58.
Bunbury’s netballing pedigree was further underlined in 1967 when Perth hosted the World Netball Championships. The English team travelled to the South West for an exhibition match ahead of the event and was tested on the court by a combined Bunbury side comprising, among others, Joan Barbour, Margaret Tidy, Erica Zappa and Maureen Simmons.
Simmons would become a name synonymous with Bunbury netball-dedicating more than 50 years to the playing, development and administration of the sport. She was the first Country Netballer granted life membership to the WA Netball Association and received the Australian Sports Medal for her contribution to Netball in 2000. The association moved its headquarters from a garden shed at Queens Garden to the Kit Keddie Pavilion at Hay Park in the early 1960’s before finding its current home on the bitumen courts in 1972. The current M.B Smith Netball Centre was built in 1979, named in honour of Association life member Peg Smith who volunteered as secretary for close to 25 years.