MOOLMAN PASIO CROWNED SPAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has been crowned SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year in Johannesburg.

2014 SPAR gsport winners unveiled at the 2014 SPAR gsport included Busisiwe Mokwena (Woman in Media), Andy Dubula (on behalf of Volunteer of the Year, Khweshy Dubula), Unathi Batyati Filis from ACSA (Sponsor of the Year), Portia Modise (gsport Special Recognition Award), Tracy-Lee Botha, Colleen Piketh and Susan Nel (representing Federation of the Year, Bowls SA), Justine Asher (Athlete of the Year with Disability), Ntando Stemmet (Social Media Star of the Year), Lenize Potgieter (Up and Coming Athlete of the Year), Zanele Mdodana (Style Star of the Year), Edward Khoza (representing Coach of the Year, Hilton Moreeng) and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year) at the Wanderers Club, in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Monday, 24 November, 2014. Not included in this photo were 2014 Hall of Fame inductee sports broadcasting pioneer, Tinky Pringle, and Women’s Football Development champion, Pearl Mosoane.
Picture by: Rebecca Hearfield / gsport


Moolman Pasio fought off stiff competition from World Canoe Sprint Champs bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, and inspirational national netball captain Maryka Holtzhausen, to win the coveted trophy at the 2014 SPAR gsport Awards on Monday.
Moolman Pasio has been South Africa’s top-ranked women’s road cyclist for the last three years, currently ranked in the top 30 in the world. Her ambition is to achieve a top-5 World Ranking by 2016, to win a World Cup race and to achieve a medal, preferably gold, at Rio 2016.
In an honour deserving of the moment, SASOL Banyana Banyana stalwart Portia Modise received the gsport Special Recognition Award for becoming the first South African footballer – male or female, to score 100 international goals. Modise is the most capped player for Banyana Banyana with 114 caps, having made her national debut at the age of 15.
In the further two key athlete categories, Tuks and SPAR Proteas shooter Lenize Potgieter was named gsport Up and Coming Athlete of the Year, while 2014 UCI World Champion in time trial and road race, Justine Asher was crowned gsport Athlete of the Year with Disability.
SPAR Proteas netball star Zanele Mdodana won the public vote when she earned the most votes at the gsport website, beating off former Style Star winner Shashi Naidoo and Bridgitte Hartley to win the gsport Style Star of the Year award. Mdodana becomes the first sports woman to win the Style award, a category previously dominated by celebrities.
Footballer-turned-administrator Pearl Mosoane was honoured for her promotion of women’s football development when she won the gsport Woman of the Year award, beating off strong competition from Discovery Sports Heroes Walk founder, Cynthia Tshaka, and Netball South Africa President, Mimi Mthethwa.
In the gsport Woman in Media category, Daily Sun sports reporter Busisiwe Mokwena was the judge’s choice in a category also including SABC Sport Radio and TV presenter Romy Titus and Phalaphala sports commentator Thina Ramantswana.
In the newly-launched Social Media Star of the Year category, women’s sports crusaders Ntando Stemmet overcame stiff competition from @BBallMagSA founder Lungi Mchunu and the SASOL Banyana Banyana team to win the Award’s inaugural honours.
Bowls South Africa was honoured for its role in raising the profile of women’s bowls, following the women’s team’s golden showing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Of the seven medals won by the Lawn Bowls team in Glasgow, the women’s team accounted for two gold medals and two bronze medals, with Tracy-Lee Botha finishing the event as the most successful SA women athlete in Glasgow, featuring in the double gold success in the Fours and the Pairs.
The gsport Sponsor of the Year award was presented to Airports Company South Africa for its loyal support of wheelchair tennis in South Africa since 2005. Over the years, ACSA has ensured strong support for development of the sport, especially among women, ensuring that stars likes Mariska Venter and KG Montjane get to perform at their best on the world stage.
One of the biggest cheers of the morning was reserved for sports broadcasting pioneer, and the first woman anchor on SuperSport, Tinky Pringle, who was inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame, for paving the way for young women in the industry. Having kicked off her career at the SABC, Pringle spent 10 years with SuperSport covering live sport including football, tennis, rugby, Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, cricket and golf.

2014 SPAR gsport Awards Winners
Award Winner
gsport Volunteer of the Year Khweshy Dubula
gsport Sports Federation of the Year Bowls South Africa
gsport Sponsor of the Year Airports Company South Africa
gsport Special Recognition Award Portia Modise
gsport Style Star Zanele Mdodana
gsport Social Media Star Ntando Stemmet
gsport Woman in Media Busisiwe Mokwena
gsport Woman of the Year Pearl Mosoane
gsport Coach of the Year Hilton Moreeng
gsport Up and Coming Athlete of the Year Lenize Potgieter
gsport Athlete of the Year with Disability Justine Asher
SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year Ashleigh Moolman Pasio
2014 gsport Hall of Fame Inductee Tinky Pringle


DJOKOVIC CLINCHES YEAR-END NO. 1 EMIRATES ATP RANKING FOR THIRD TIME

LONDON — Novak Djokovic has clinched the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking for a third time after he completed round-robin play with a 3-0 record on Friday at The O2 in London to qualify for the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The 27-year-old Serbian previously finished at the top in 2011 and 2012 and is the seventh player to finish year-end No. 1 on three or more occasions, following in the footsteps of Pete Sampras (6), Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer (5), Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe (4) and Rafael Nadal (3).
Djokovic is also only the fourth player — after Lendl, Federer and Nadal (twice) — to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. This is the 11th straight season that the year-end World No. 1 ranking has been held by Djokovic (2011-12, ‘14), Federer (2004-07, ’09) or Nadal (2008, ‘10, ‘13).

Being World No. 1 is probably one of the most difficult and biggest challenges that a tennis player can have, so it’s incredibly fulfilling and I’m very happy with this achievement,” said Djokovic, after he was presented the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy in an on-court ceremony with McEnroe, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and Carlos Moya. “It’s been a long year and it’s one of the ultimate challenges. I’m just glad to be standing here with the trophy knowing how many legends of the sport have done the same before.”

Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, “On behalf of the ATP, I’d like to congratulate Novak on another phenomenal season. Finishing as the year-end No.1 is the ultimate achievement in our sport. Since the inception of the rankings in 1973, only 16 players can lay claim to that achievement. It’s been a very exciting end to the season with Novak being pushed all the way by a resurgent Roger Federer. Novak has had another outstanding season and is truly deserving of his place as No. 1.”

With No. 1 now secured, Djokovic’s focus narrows to winning a third consecutive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title (and fourth title overall, following his first win in 2008). Ivan Lendl was the last player to win three straight titles at the season finale (1985-87). Djokovic is making his eighth straight appearance at the event.

Djokovic returned to World No. 1 on 7 July this year after capturing his seventh Grand Slam championship title at Wimbledon (d. Federer). Overall, he has an 18-5 record against Top 10 opponents in 2014 and has won six titles, including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Federer), Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Nadal), Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (d. Nadal), Wimbledon, China Open in Beijing (d. Berdych) and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (d. Raonic). He also finished runner-up at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal).

Djokovic first ascended to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 4 July 2011, following his maiden Wimbledon triumph, and held the top spot for 53 weeks. He reclaimed No. 1 from Federer on 5 November 2012, before relinquishing it to Nadal on 7 October 2013. Djokovic competes in London at No. 1 for the 121st week in his career.
ATP WORLD TOUR YEAR-END NO. 1

Year Player
2014 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2013 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2012 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2011 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2010 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2009 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2008 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2007 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2006 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2005 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2004 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
2003 Andy Roddick (U.S.)
2002 Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
2001 Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
2000 Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil)
1999 Andre Agassi (U.S.)
1998 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1997 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1996 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1995 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1994 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1993 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1992 Jim Courier (U.S.)
1991 Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1990 Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1989 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1988 Mats Wilander (Sweden)
1987 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1986 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1985 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1984 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1983 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1982 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1981 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1980 Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1979 Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1978 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1977 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1976 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1975 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1974 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1973 Ilie Nastase (Romania


DIANA-LEBO PHALULA COLLECTS SPAR GRAND PRIX CAR KEY

Johannesburg, South Africa - Barefoot runner Diana-Lebo Phalula had plenty to celebrate at the SPAR Grand Prix Awards at the Wanderers Club on Tuesday, when she was handed the handed the keys to a brand-new Nissan Micra.

Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr. Gert oosthuizen (Left) and Athletics South Africa, Aleck Skhosana (Right) hand the car keys to Diana-Lebo Phalula (Middle) during the SPAR Grand Prix Awards at the Wanderers Sporting Club in Ilovo, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Congratulating the winner of the 2014 SPAR Grand Prix Diana-Lebo Phalula is; from L-R: Athletics South Africa President, Aleck Skhosana; Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Gert Oosthuizen; Lebo Phalula and; SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Phalula became the fifth person to win the Grand Prix title, finishing the five-race SPAR Women’s Challenge series with a total of 110 points. Her achievement was particularly remarkable, as she had been troubled with a hamstring injury for much of the year. However, her record-breaking wins in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and her top five finishes in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg ensured that no-one was able to overtake her on the Grand Prix ladder.
Her twin sister, Lebogang, also claimed two titles, winning in Durban and Johannesburg, but a poor finish in Cape Town, where she came 17th, meant that two other runners, Rene Kalmer and Mapaseka Makhanya finished ahead of her on the Grand Prix table.
Kalmer and Makhanya were both proof that consistency of performance is valuable in the Grand Prix. It was the first time in many years that Kalmer, three times Grand Prix winner, finished in the top eight in all five races, earning her 81 points, three ahead of last year’s title holder, Makhanya, whose lowest finish was seventh. In fact, the difference between Makhanya and Kalmer came down to Kalmer having finished second in Port Elizabeth and third in Durban, while Makhanya’s best position was third in Port Elizabeth.
Lebogang Phalula finished with 77 points. Irvette van Zyl, twice Grand Prix winner and victor in Pretoria, finished in fifth position, with 74 points.
“I’m so excited about winning the car. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won,” said Diana-Lebo Phalula.
“It will make getting to training so much easier. The thought of winning a car also makes it easier to get up in on a cold morning, when you don’t feel like training.”
Phalula said she would dedicate 2015 to trying to qualify for the five thousand and ten thousand-metre events at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I also want to break the South African record next year,” she said.
“I will share the car with my sister – we’re twins, and what’s mine is hers,” added Phalula.
Lebogang Phalula said she was delighted that she would be sharing the car, and would use her prize money to pay for petrol and insurance for the vehicle.
“But next year, I’m going to win the car,” she laughed.
Lebogang said she was very happy to have proved herself, after the agony of a having to serve a doping ban.
“I’m running clean, and I am so happy to be back, and doing well,” she said.
Nicole van der Merwe won the junior title, with 31 points, and Ronel Thomas was the top veteran, with 29. Elmarie Coetzee was the winner of the masters’ category, with 28 points, and Margie Saunders finished at the top of the grandmaster table.
Boxer clinched the club competition, ending years of dominance by Nedbank. Boxer finished with 248 points, followed by Transnet, with 158. Maxed Elite came third, with 111, and Nedbank fourth, with 82.
Mike Prentice, SPAR Group Marketing Executive said that his company were delighted with the success of the series. “ SPAR take pride in our investment into women’s road running in South Africa and to encourage and reward the top performing athletes with our Grand Prix series is a token of appreciation for the hard work and dedication these athletes put into road running in the country.”
“My congratulations to all the category winner in particular Diana-Lebo who has impressed so much this year on the road and who together with her sister Lebogang add so much fun, energy and character to road running in the country.”
Prentice ended by announcing that SPAR would continue with the Grand Prix in 2015 and planned it to be a bigger and better series.


HARTLEY HEADLINES SPAR GSPORT AWARDS FINALISTS

2014 KZN Sportswoman of the Year, Bridgitte Hartley, is a double nominee for the 2014 SPAR gsport Awards.

Hartley, who won bronze in the World Canoe Sprint Championships, is up against Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and national netball captain Maryka Holtzhausen for the SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year.

gsport Founder Kass Naidoo said: “The SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year category attracted more than 60 nominations, and the battle for the top three was tough. It is now up to the judges to choose the winner from three noteworthy candidates.”

With SPAR Proteas netball player Zanele Mdodana, Hartley has the distinction of becoming the joint-first athlete selected as a gsport Awards Style Star finalist, 2011 gsport Style Star winner Shashi Naidoo completing the trio.

“The winner in the gsport Style Star of the Year category is now to be decided by public voting at the gsport website from Sunday, 9 November to Monday, 17 November, which will also decide winners in the Volunteer of the Year and Social Media Star categories.”

The Volunteer of the Year category is headlined by three champions in disabled sport, nominees including Tracy Dearden, a sports volunteer for the past 14 years, tireless Mthatha wheelchair tennis campaigner Kweshy Dubula, and Dea Slattery, international official and coach to talented swimmer Adri Visser for the past eight years.

Social Media Star of the Year will see crusader for women’s sport on social media, Ntando Stemmet battle it out with @BBallMagSA founder, Lungi Mchunu, and the national women’s football team, SASOL Banyana Banyana.

Public voting for the three Awards – Style Star, Volunteer of the Year and Social Media Star of the Year – is open at gsport.co.za/voting

In Athlete of the Year with Disability category, veteran Paralympic athlete Zanele Situ is nominated alongside champion paracyclist, Justine Asher and multiple medal-winning swimmer, Bongekile Sebaka.

In the Up and Coming Athlete of the Year category, world junior number one wheelchair tennis player, Mariska Venter, is nominated with Tuks and SPAR Proteas netball star Lenize Potgieter and swimming sensation Marlies Ross.

St. Stithians U12 netball coach Keneiloe Kgasi is up against Mangaung netball coach Burta de Kock and Momentum Proteas national women’s coach Hilton Moreeng, for gsport Coach of the Year.

In the Woman of the Year category, Founder of the Discovery Sports Heroes Walk, Cynthia Tshaka is nominated alongside President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa and player turned football administrator, Pearl Mosoane.

While the three athlete categories counted together make up more than half of the total nominations received, the Woman in Media category was the next most popular – boasting more than 20 deserving journalists up for consideration.

In a highly-contested battle, SABC Sport Presenter Romy Titus, Daily Sun reporter Busisiwe Mokwena and Phalaphala FM sports commentator, Thinandavha Ramantswana came through as the top three nominees for this sought-after award.

The gsport judging panel is made up of veteran sports journalist, Jane Bramley, world leader in visual performance, Dr. Sherylle Calder and 2007 gsport Hall of Fame winner, Hazel Gumede. They have been tasked with choosing the overall winner in the categories, Athlete of the Year, Athlete of the Year with Disability, Up and Coming Athlete of the Year, Woman in Media, Coach of the Year and Woman of the Year.

SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice said: “It is exciting to see new names in women’s sport coming to the fore and being recognised at the SPAR gsport Awards. It is important that these Awards continue to unearth role models and icons that young girls can look up to.”

To find out more, visit gsport.co.za/voting to follow the action, and @gsport4girls on Facebook and Twitter for updates leading up to the Awards taking place on Monday, 24 November in Johannesburg.

Finalists in the 2014 SPAR gsport Awards:

Athlete of the Year (Judges Voting):
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
Bridgitte Hartley
Maryka Holtzhausen

Athlete with Disability (Judges Voting):
Bongekile Sebaka
Justine Asher
Zanele Situ

Up and Coming Athlete (Judges Voting):
Lenize Potgieter
Mariska Venter
Marlies Ross

Coach of the Year (Judges Voting):
Burta de Kock
Hilton Moreeng
Keneiloe Kgasi

Woman of the Year (Judges Voting):
Cynthia Tshaka
Mimi Mthethwa
Pearl Mosoane

Women in Media (Judges Voting):
Busisiwe Mokwena
Romy Titus
Thinandavha Ramantswana

Volunteer of the Year (Public Voting):
Dea Slattery
Kweshy Dubula
Tracy Dearden

Style Star (Public Voting):
Bridgitte Hartley
Shashi Naidoo
Zanele Mdodana

Social Media Star (Public Voting):
Banyana Banyana
Lungi Mchunu
Ntando Stemmet


SPAR FAST5 NETBALL TEAM CLINCH FIFTH PLACE

Auckland, New Zealand – The SPAR Fast5 team clinched fifth position in the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, with a decisive 30-22 victory over arch-rivals Malawi in the fifth place play-off.

SPAR South Africa Fast5 team goalkeeper turned goal attack Vanes-Mari du Toit (left) in action against the Malawi Queens during 5th/6th playoffs of the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday. SPAR South Africa Fast5 team went on to win the match 30-22 to clinch the fifth position.
Picture by: Michael Bradley


South Africa had a much better day on Sunday, beating Malawi twice and putting up a valiant performance against defending champions New Zealand.
South Africa’s first match of the day was against the Silver Ferns, who put them under pressure from the start. However, sharp shooting from Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen gave her side a 6-4 lead at the first break. New Zealand came back strongly in the second quarter to take a halftime lead of 14-8. The South African defence, led by Amanda Mynhardt, did well to restrict New Zealand to 10 points in their power play quarter. South Africa made good use of their final quarter power play, scoring 16 points, but were unable to catch the Ferns, who won the match 34-25.
Holtzhausen admitted that her side left it too late in the final quarter to take three-point shots and close the gap.
“We need to up our goal percentages if we want to win a match. We will stick to our game plan and play the best that we can,” she said.
The Proteas’ last round robin match was against Malawi, who, like South Africa, had not won a match. South Africa threw caution to the wind, taking risks throughout the match, with Holtzhausen sinking two-point goals seemingly at will. Malawi edged ahead in the third quarter, thanks to a six-pointer from their power play, but South Africa took the honours in the end, beating the Malawi Queens 33-30.
Buoyed by their earlier win, the South Africans took charge of the fifth place play-off against their African rivals. Malawi took their power play early, in the second quarter, but were unable to capitalise, and were just three points ahead on 14-11 at halftime. South Africa made their most of their power play, with Holtzhausen nailing a six pointer and the Proteas had a comfortable 23-17 lead after the third quarter. The final quarter was a fierce battle, but South Africa kept the scoreboard ticking over. As the final whistle blew, Holtzhausen emphasised their victory with a three-pointer and South Africa emerged the winners by 30 points to 22.
“As a team, we have grown throughout this tournament,” said goalkeeper turned goal attack Vanes-Mari du Toit.
“We filled the missing pieces with hard work, and gelled as a team. We’re very pleased to have beaten Malawi twice – they are our biggest competition at home and we always enjoy beating them.”
New Zealand, who have not lost a game since the introduction of Fast5, pulled off a thrilling 35-31 win over arch-rivals Australia in the final, after bidding an emotional farewell to former Protea and long-time Silver Fern goalshooter Irene van Dyk. England squeaked home against Jamaica, beating them 31-30 in a nailbiter.


SPAR FAST5 NETBALL TEAM OFF TO DISAPPOINTING START

Auckland, New Zealand – The SPAR South African team got off to a disappointing start on the opening day of the Fast5 World Netball series in Auckland, New Zealand, losing all three of their matches.
The South Africans started their campaign against Australia. In the opening spell, they held their own, with captain Maryka Holtzhausen looking good as goalshooter, but from the second quarter onwards, the Australian Flyers began to find their feet and exert their authority over the South Africans. But in the third quarter, which South Africa had chosen as their power play quarter, with scores being doubled, the Australian defence prevented the South Africans from scoring a single goal. Australia ran out 30-8 winners. The disappointment for South Africa was they scored five of their points in the first quarter, and added only three after that.
South Africa came up against strong defensive pressure again in their match against England, who forced them into shooting from the one-point zone, so that their score ticked along more slowly than they would have wanted. After trailing 13-4 at halftime, the South Africans made the most of their power play quarter, coming back to within four points of England. However, outstanding power play shooting by Kadeen Corbin and Rachel Dunn in the final quarter, meant England won the match 44-22.
Coach Anna Mayes said England’s strategy had been to prevent South Africa from shooting from the two and three point zones.
“South Africa has some great three-point shooters, so that was key for us,” she said.
South Africa’s match of the day was against Jamaica, who dominated throughout, after indifferent performances in their earlier matches. The Sunshine Girls used their height to great effect, and Jamaica had lead 11-5 after the first quarter. South Africa came back strongly in the second quarter, and came within four points of the Jamaicans by halftime. But once again, they were unable to utilise the power play quarter, and were 25-18 behind before the final quarter.
Thristina Harwood, last year’s Player of the Tournament, showed just how good she is in Jamaica’s power play, scoring two six-pointers, and Jamaica won the match 25-40.
Holtzhausen, playing in her third Fast5 tournament, said the match had been a tough one, but it had also been their best performance so far.
“But it was also our best performance of the tournament so far. We were looking better in the shooting circle, and that’s given us something to build on.
“Tomorrow we need to shoot more in the one and two point zones. We need to stick with our opposition, so we don’t need to risk the six-pointers to catch up.”
On Sunday, South Africa play defending champions New Zealand, the only team unbeaten so far, and Malawi, who have yet to win a match. However, Malawi lost to England by just three points, and Jamaica by one, so they could prove a tough nut to crack. The two African teams are likely to meet up again in the play-off for fifth place.


FAST5 NETBALL WORLD SERIES LIVE ON SUPERSPORT

Auckland, New Zealand – Good news for netball fans is that SuperSport, official broadcaster of Netball South Africa (NSA) have confirmed that they have come to an agreement with the International Netball Federation and will be broadcasting the Fast5 Netball World Series.
The netball World Series is being played at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand on the 8 and 9 November 2014 with six teams competing, SPAR South Africa FAST5 team, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls’, the Malawi Queens, England Fives, Australian FAST5 Flyers and the FAST5 Ferns.
The SPAR South Africa Fast5 team opens its account with a match against England on Saturday, 8 November. It also plays Australia and Jamaica on Saturday, with the matches against Malawi and New Zealand scheduled for Sunday.
The SPAR Fast5 team comprises of Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Mari-Lena Joubert, Elsunet du Plessis, Lauren-Lee Christians, Tumelo Mantjiu, Amanda Mynhardt, Shadine van der Merwe, Phumza Maweni and Bhongo Nqubeni. Elize Kotze (Coach) and Martha Mosoahle-Samm (Assistant Coach).


FRENZIED ACTIVITY IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Auckland, New Zealand – The Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand will see frenzied action over the weekend as the world’s top six netball countries fight it out for honours in the Fast5 netball tournament.

SPAR Fast5 coach Elize Kotze during the Fast5 team pre-departure media briefing at the Garden Court hotel, OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, 02 November 2014. The SPAR South African Fast5 team opens its account with a match against Australia on Saturday morning. It also plays England and Jamaica on Saturday, with the matches against Malawi and New Zealand scheduled for Sunday at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


The SPAR South African Fast5 team opens its account with a match against Australia on Saturday morning. It also plays England and Jamaica on Saturday, with the matches against Malawi and New Zealand scheduled for Sunday.
As its name implies, Fast5 is a high-speed version of netball. Each quarter lasts only six minutes, and stoppages are kept to a minimum. Each team has only five players on court, which means there is more space to move the ball around. The coaches are allowed to give instructions to the players from the sidelines, and rolling substitutions are allowed throughout the match.
One of the most exciting features is that goals can be scored from outside the circle, and goals scored this way will be worth three points. Goals shot from the outer zone are worth two points, and goals from the inner part of the circle worth one.
Each team selects a quarter as a power play quarter, when the value of goals scored is doubled.
South African coach Elize Kotze says Fast5 is very tactical, with quick decision-making by the coach and the players of crucial importance.
“Fast5 is very unpredictable, and we believe we are capable of doing very well in this tournament,” she said.
“Our shooters have been working hard at trying to score from outside the circle, and we are confident that we will be able to score quite a few three-pointers.”
One disappointment for the organisers and for the South African team is that Silver Ferns mega-star Irene van Dyk has been ruled out of the tournament by a back injury.
Forty-two year-old Van Dyk was a member of the South African team that won a silver medal at the world championships in Birmingham in 1995. She later emigrated to New Zealand, where she became a household name, representing her adopted country from 2000 until earlier this year. The most famous player in the world had planned to make her swan song in the Fast5 Series.
Kotze, who was also part of the 1995 medal-winning team, said she was bitterly disappointed that Van Dyk would not be playing this weekend.
“I am in frequent contact with Irene, who has maintained her love for South Africa,” she said.
“It would have been such a privilege for us to have played against her in her final tournament. But she is still going to be there as an adviser to the Silver Ferns, and I know our players are looking forward to meeting her and to talking to her.”


EXCITEMENT BUILDS AHEAD OF FAST5 NETBALL WORLD SERIES

All six teams competing in the FAST5 Netball World Series have arrived in New Zealand ahead of the weekend’s event at Vector Arena.

SPAR South Africa FAST5 team, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls’, the Malawi Queens, England Fives, Australian FAST5 Flyers and the FAST5 Ferns have assembled in Auckland for what is set to be the biggest and most spectacular FAST5 event of the three-year tenure in New Zealand.

Thousands of ticket holders will descend on Vector Arena in what is heading quickly towards an unprecedented sell-out at a FAST5 Netball World Series event to witness first-hand the dynamic and highly entertaining shortened version of the seven-a-side game.

The coaches and captains of all six teams were welcomed at an invitation only media event at KPMG in Auckland on Wednesday morning.

SPAR South Africa FAST5 Team captain Maryka Holtzhausen said the team love coming back to New Zealand each year for fun, but controlled fun.

“We want to win and then we can have fun, but we are here to win.”

“I don’t think any team comes into a tournament wanting to come third or second, so we will be taking it game by game, trying to play consistent netball and having a good build-up to towards the World Cup next year.”

“We have a few young players in the team and we’re keen to see what they can do on the world stage so hopefully everything will come together and be in our favour this year,” Holtzhausen said.

“We haven’t been practicing our dance moves yet, but we’re really looking to improve on that this year – I think that’s where we lacked a bit,” she said.

A huge volunteer workforce has signed on to make the event a success with the Netball supported by a raft of entertainment to keep the crowd regaled throughout the two days.

A feature of the Captain’s Call was the announcement of the winner of Barfoot & Thompson’s ‘Win Your Class To FAST5’ competition where schools were invited to decorate a house in FAST5 themes. Valley Primary School from Pukekohe was the winner as voted by each of the six team captains and the winners received 30 tickets to Saturday’s action at Vector Arena.


FAST5 THE FIRST STEP TO WORLD NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa – SPAR Fast5 Netball coach Elize Kotze says the Fast5 World Series tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, is the first step to the World Championships in Sydney, Australia, next year.

From L-R: Back Jacobus Breytenbach (Physiotherapist), Mari-Lena Joubert, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Phumza Maweni, Elize Kotze (Coach), Charlotte Schotz (Team Manager), Martha Mosoahle-Samm (Assistant Coach). Front Ilze Pheiffer (Sports Scientist), Tumelo Mantjiu.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Speaking shortly before the team’s departure on Sunday, Kotze said that playing an intensive tournament involving the world’s top six netball countries was the ideal preparation for the world championships.
“It is a different format, but it will provide us with an opportunity to see how the youngsters in the team perform at international level,” she said.
“And what better test could there be than playing against the top teams. It is a great platform for us, and because of the unpredictable nature of Fast5, I believe we can do very well.”
South Africa play the three top teams, Australia, Jamaica and England on the opening day of the round robin tournament, and Kotze was very pleased that the team will be playing warm-up matches against the three teams before the start of the tournament next Saturday.
“We have had a very good build-up, with some excellent training camps, as well as the series against the Australian Sports Institute team in Potchefstroom last month. The players are very focused, and they are playing as a unit. The mood in the squad is excellent, and I believe we can do very well.”
Team captain Maryka Holtzhausen said she was excited by the presence of some young players in the squad.
“New blood always adds something to the team,” she said.
“The other teams don’t know these players, and so they can spring some surprises.”
She said she and the other goalshooters had been practising shooting from outside the circle, so that they could gain extra points.
“Some shooters prefer the comfort zone of shooting well within the circle, but we are hoping to take maximum advantage of the three-point rule.”
Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said Fast5 netball, which can be compared to sevens rugby or Twenty20 cricket as a shorter, faster version of the traditional game, was based on quick decision-making, both by the coach and on court, and on making the most of opportunities as they came along.
“There’s also an element of luck involved, but a team makes its own luck,” she said.
“We came fourth last year, and I believe we can win a medal this time.”
The Fast5 tournament will be played next Saturday and Sunday, with all the matches involving South Africa shown on television.
SPAR Fast5 squad: Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Mari-Lena Joubert, Elsunet du Plessis, Lauren-Lee Christians, Tumelo Mantjiu, Amanda Mynhardt, Shadine van der Merwe, Phumza Maweni and Bhongo Nqubeni.

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