SWEDISH ORIGIN OF NETBALL
In 2019, then Vice President of the Stockholm Netball club, Annika Nilsson, mentioned her father told her that a Swede, Martina Bergman Österberg, was the founder of Netball. While online history suggested the founders of basketball as the founders of Netball, investigation with the INF of the true origin of Netball confirmed Martina’s founding role. This was truly exciting for Swedish Netball and coincidentally the Stockholm Netball Club had played for 10 years at Gymnastik Idrottshögskolan (GIH), the school where Martina had studied 130 years earlier.
At Netball Sweden we are immensely proud to be an important part in the history of Netball and to walk in Martina’s footsteps. We continue to work towards bringing deserved credit to Martina and her students Internationally and have established strong ties with GIH, the Bergman Österberg Union and INF in regard to this.
INTERNATIONAL NETBALL FEDERATION STATEMENT
"Other than the records held by Bergman Österberg as shown on their website, INF holds no further historical evidence reaching back so far. INF can confirm, based on the Bergman Österberg evidence, that Madam Österberg is widely credited as being the founder of the sport of Net-ball. The first rules of Net-ball were developed and published by the Ling Association in 1901."
12th February, 2020
MARTINA BERGMAN ÖSTERBERG THE FOUNDER OF NETBALL
Born in 1849 in Hammarlunda, Sweden, Martina Bergman Österberg became a world renowned physical education instructor and women’s suffrage advocate.
After studying at Gynmastik- och idrottshögskolan (GIH – formerly CGI) Martina moved to London and founded the first physical education instructor’s college in England, to which only women were admitted. She invented the ‘gymslip’, controversial at the time but clothing suitable for women to wear while playing sports.
In the 1880s, slightly after the invention of basketball, Martina and her students began developing a sport that in the mid 1880’s became known as Net-ball. While the oldest known records of netball exist in the Bergman Österberg Union archives and the INF recognizes Madame Österberg as the founder of netball, it is most common that the founders of basketball are credited as the founders of netball.
Picture: Martina Bergman Österberg. Xylografi ur Idun 1890. Wikipedia.