The major Counties Manukau schools netball competition will take place this season at the Manurewa centre, not Papakura as in 2015.

This follows a significant hike in fees per team for the Papakura cluster, which was originally flagged as being $200 a team, but was later changed to $470. In fairness, this figure is still cheaper than some centres, such as Auckland, charge their schools, but it was felt that this was too steep an increase, allied with transport costs, to be acceptable for schools in South Auckland.

College Sport will run the new competition at Manurewa for 2016 - meaning they will provide umpires, especially for premier grades, and co-ordinate all entries. They will be covering their costs and the charge will be $80 a team and $150 for premier teams. Two of the four premier matches each Wednesday night will take place indoors.

Last Wednesday was slated for kickoff, but the weather ruled out all play, so a start is hoped for this afternoon.


College Sport chief executive Dave Currie says there will be about 80 teams playing at Manurewa each Wednesday. He says there was angst among some schools over the fee increase at Papakura and, at a meeting last month of 12 schools, it was decided that College Sport would step in.

There is already a small schools module run out of the Pukekohe Netball Centre for some based further south.

"Overwhelmingly, they said, 'Could you run a competition?' We said yes. It's not our preferred model. We'd much rather work with a partner," Currie says.

The initial feedback appears to be positive, with some new schools joining to benefit from the lower fees. Manurewa Netball Centre is a council-owned facility, and the council is said to be happy that more use is to be made of it.

The Herald obtained correspondence from the Papakura Netball Centre, dated April 13, at which the centre's stance was outlined. There was criticism of previous occasions, before 2015, when College Sport had helped run competitions out of Papakura.

Currie had no comment on issues raised out of that email, but it is understood College Sport was unimpressed by the sudden price hike at Papakura.

Papakura Netball Centre operations manager Briar Martindale had no detailed comment at this juncture, but said her centre was very keen to resume schools competition in the future.

"We've had really positive feedback from schools. It was really just the timing around advertising what the teams' fees were, and we've taken that on board," she said.

Netball governance at schools level is done differently to most other sports under the College Sport banner. As it stands, most entries for school sport go directly to College Sport. In netball, those entries go direct to the centres, which hold the games, be it Auckland, Waitakere, North Harbour, Howick Pakuranga or, previously, Papakura.

There is a future case to be made for schools hosting games at their own courts, for those that have them.