SUNBIRDS & BAOBABS CLAIM FIRST PLAYOFF WINS

Pretoria, South Africa - It was mission accomplished for the Mpumalanga Sunbirds after their victory over the Eastern Cape Aloes at the University of Pretoria’s Rembrandt Hall guaranteed they will finish the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in a higher position than last year.

Siphosethu Kilani of the Aloes challenged by Sanele Buthelezi of the Sunbirds during the 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between Sunbirds and Aloes at Rembrandt Hall,Pretoria on 10 June 2018.

Picture by: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix


Having finished in ninth spot in 2017, the Sunbirds were determined to earn their passage through to the seventh-place showdown with victory in the first of the playoff matches on Sunday. True to pre-match predictions, after these teams played to a 38-38 draw the last time they met, it was another tight affair.
They were level on 9-9 at the first break, but then it was the Aloes who edged ahead and held the lead for the majority of the match – albeit a slender one.
They were three goals up at half time and four ahead at the final break. But the fourth quarter was all about the Sunbirds as they clawed their way back into contention with more accurate passing and shooting, while their defence ensured there was a period of almost five minutes when the Aloes did not score at all. The experience and skill of the injured Aloes centre Athenkosi Mbengashe was sorely felt at that point as the Sunbirds surged ahead and eventually claim a 39-35 win.
“That last quarter was the pull-through for everybody,” said a relieved Sunbirds coach, Marlie Nel, afterwards. “We managed to capitalise on small mistakes the Aloes made – some missed catches, so I actually felt for them. But luckily my players could convert that and that helped a lot.
“My defence just kept on working and at the end it worked – getting the ball back to our shooters to get in. I know the Sunbirds are players that never stop fighting and the goal was to take this match. I think they went out to show everybody we aren’t a ninth-place team. We can finish higher,” added Nel.
Aloes coach Des Neville added: “It feels like déjà vu because that’s what happened in our first game against them. It just seems we can’t keep it together right until the end. We keep trying different strategies but we just don’t seem to be able to get that flow into the circle at this stage, which is frustrating because that’s how you score goals.”
As for the injury to Mbengashe, Neville added: “Athe was a big loss – her height for one thing. It’s nice to have a tall centre who can have a bigger, wider vision and get higher into the circle over good defences. She’s also very composed and very used to feeding our shooters, putting the ball into the right places.”
The Aloes, who finished in sixth spot last year will now play the Northern Cape Diamonds (who have yet to win a match) in a battle to avoid finishing in last place.
That’s after the Diamonds lost their first playoff match against the Limpopo Baobabs 71-40, with the Limpopo team notching up their highest total of the tournament so far.
The Baobabs, who finished seventh on the log, were always in control of the match, reaching half time 36-13 up and simply extending their lead from there.
Baobabs coach Jenne-lee Delport, who had taken the opportunity to give her bench players plenty of court time, said afterwards: “I was pleased with the overall performance. To me it was good and clean. Last night we made a lot of errors, bad passes, footwork and breaking the line. So last night, for the first time this tournament we had quite a hard chat and we spoke about the fact that you can’t be a champion on court if you’re not one off court. I think the players took that to heart and they came out on fire in the first quarter. We didn’t give them any glimpse of hope.”
The Baobabs will now play against the Sunbirds next weekend for seventh spot. The last time the teams met, the Baobabs won by just two goals so it should be an intriguing encounter.
“That’s going to be a tough one and very physical, especially in the goal circle. It would be great to win next weekend as we finished eighth last year, so we’d obviously like to improve on that,” said Delport.
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JAGUARS CONTINUE WINNING START TO TITLE DEFENCE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Gauteng Jaguars stormed through the opening weekend of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League unbeaten and look as dominant as ever, pulling off a 51-43 win over the Southern Stings at Ellis Park Arena on Sunday.

Shannen Bartlett of the Stings challenged by Izette Griesel and Tshina Mdau of the Jaguars during the 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between the Jaguars and Stings at Ellis Park Arena, Johannesburg on 13 May 2018
Pictures by: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix


As predicted the much-anticipated showdown between the two sides started out as a closely fought clash. The teams were neck and neck in the first quarter, exchanging the lead on numerous occasions and reaching the first break with just one goal in it – the Stings leading 11-10 at that point.
The team from the Western Cape held onto that one-goal advantage heading into half time 26-25 up. That’s when a new game plan from the Jaguars kicked into gear and it showed on the scoreboard with the defending champions finishing a quarter ahead for the first time at the end of the third, on 37-34.
Four unanswered goals at the start of the fourth meant the Jaguars opened up that small gap significantly before the Stings could respond. It seemed there was no coming back from that, with the Jaguars increasing their advantage to eventually win it by eight goals.
“We changed our plan after halfway through. Our first game plan sucked,” admitted Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk after the game. “We tried something and it didn’t work and so we had to change it. The girls were quick to adapt and it worked well. It was quite a tough match so I’m pleased with the performance.”
Speaking about the 2017 champions’ confidence levels following a successful weekend, Van Dyk added: “It’s fantastic but that can also lead to becoming complacent and a bit too relaxed so we’ll definitely go back and analyse everything we’ve done and work on the areas that weren’t so great.”
Stings coach Annelie Lucas reckoned: “We couldn’t keep up our intensity. It was a very physical game so the girls just got beaten on the body, and the bodies got tired so they couldn’t keep up with it.”
Meanwhile, the North West Flames claimed their first win of the weekend. Last year’s runners-up bounced back from a loss to the Stings on Saturday, with a 61-39 victory over the Limpopo Baobabs. Having struggled on Saturday, young goal shooter Claudia van der Berg had a much better time of it, slotting in some great goals in the first quarter which meant her side led 17-11 at the break.
Quarters two and three were good ones for the Baobabs, and while they trailed throughout, they never let the Flames run away with it. There was a two-goal difference in the second and four in the third, but it was the final period that let them down. That’s when the Flames asserted their dominance to open up their lead and win with ease.
“That was much better,” said a relieved Flames coach, Elsje Jordaan, afterwards, explaining her key wing attack Kgomotso Itlhabanyeng had recovered enough from flu to make a big difference. “I think the rhythm overall was much better on attack.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play all 12 throughout the weekend which is good for a squad, getting those youngsters out. For some of them it’s the first time playing on a sprung floor so it’s all about exposure and building. I’m more happy than last night, definitely.”
Baobabs coach Jenny-Lee Delport said: “Yesterday I kept a lot of players on court and then made the big change at half time and that didn’t work, so this time I tried to change more often but that didn’t work either, so there’s a lot of work to do on when to make the changes to see which players are ready when.
“Other than that, the play looked good. It was fun to see my players play so well against ex-Protea players like Vanes-Mari du Toit and one of the Protea coaches [Jordaan]. I think the players realised for the first time in a while that they can actually do this. We’ve got the ability, we just need to work on the fitness.”
In the final game of the opening round, the Eastern Cape Aloes slumped to their second loss of the weekend, while the Gauteng Fireballs claimed their second victory. The Fireballs, who finished in third spot last year under coach Jordaan’s guidance, dominated from start to finish to eventually take it 53-28.
“I think the difference for us was playing the ball instead of playing the man and losing focus,” said Fireballs coach Dorette Badenhorst. “The Aloes are a very physical team and you need to make sure that you work from them. They’re a difficult team to play, but I think our shots were good. Talja [Venter] played really well. Her goal average was very high so that was the difference.”
Badenhorst believes there’s still plenty of room for improvement however. “It was a good weekend for us. It’s always important to beat these teams because at the end of the day you want to qualify, but it wasn’t a great performance. Some of the quarters we really played well in both of our games but we struggled with certain combinations and we still need to keep possession. We are turning a lot of balls so I’m happy on defence but there are a few things we still need to change.”
Aloes coach Des Neville said: “We were hoping our players would have settled after yesterday’s game and some of the combinations did come through quite strongly today.
“We tried a few new things and some of those did pay off but it’s just a matter of trying to keep that going for the whole game. We’ve got pockets of brilliance, but too many lulls and too many lows so if we can sort that out, I think we’ll go forward from here.”
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SLICK-LOOKING STINGS OFF TO WINNING START

Johannesburg, South Africa- The Southern Stings produced one of the finest defensive efforts of the opening weekend of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League to defeat last year’s runners up, the North West Flames, 53-37 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg this afternoon.

Claudia Van Den Berg of the Flames (l) challenged by Stephanie Brandt of the Stings during the 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between the Stings and Flames at Ellis Park Arena, Johannesburg on 12 May 2018.

Photo Credit : Gavin Barker at Backpage Media


After a series of fairly large winning margins in matches earlier in the day and on the opening night on Friday, it seemed this might be the match that might deliver the tightest contest of the day. That certainly proved to be the case in the opening quarter as the teams swapped the lead and reached the break just one goal apart – 11-10 in the Stings’ favour. It was still fairly even as the teams went to half time four goals apart on 27-23 to the team from the Western Cape.
But that’s as close as it got in the end, with the Flames struggling in the circle and squandering numerous scoring opportunities, while the Stings impressed on both defence and their basic skills. It was a slick team performance all-round and saw the Stings surging ahead to win it by 16 goals at the final whistle.
“We did expect a closer game. We know the type of players they have and we know that Elsje [Jordaan] in a very good coach,” admitted Stings coach Annelie Lucas afterwards.
“At the beginning of the game we were too loose so we played into their hands, but when we tightened up the game, eventually it went out way. Our defence was on par tonight. They were sharp and I know Helene [Steyn] got the player of the match, but I think Stephanie Brandt, our keeper, also really outdid herself. Her timing was on and she just turned the ball for us there. If you have tight defence, then it’s easy.”
Flames coach Jordaan explained that an injury to their number one shooter had caused the team’s scoring woes. “Our attack is a brand new combination and it showed, and obviously if you don’t convert, you can’t win. I’m not happy with the shooting effort at all. But I’m quite happy that now we know what we need to work on. And we’ll be back hopefully.”
In the final match of the day, the Mpumalanga Sunbirds sank to their second defeat in as many days with a 44-25 loss to the Gauteng Fireballs. It was always going to be a tough task for the team that finished second last in 2017, coming up against the third-placed Gauteng side, and they struggled to match the skill from the better-drilled team.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Gauteng Jaguars could not have sounded a louder warning to their challengers as they got the defence of their Brutal Fruit Premier Netball League title off to a successful start.
They may have been taking on the team that finished bottom of the pile last year, the Northern Cape Diamonds, but they still looked in sensational form as they powered to an 81-12 win.
The team from the Northern Cape simply battled to match the pace at which the defending champions were operating. They reached the half time break 30 goals behind and it got worse from there as some strong defence from the Jaguars meant the Diamonds could score only twice in the third quarter and once in the final 15 minutes.
“We set some goals for the match so I did expect them to perform even if it was a weaker match,” explained Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk. “We are very confident of defending the title. We wouldn’t just come here to take a second or third place. We want to win this and that’s what we’re working towards,” she added.
In other action, the Limpopo Baobabs sprung a surprise by surging to a 15-12 lead after their first quarter against three-time champions, the Free State Crinums.
The Crinums came back in the second to level matters at 16-all, but the Baobabs were still very much in it by half-time, heading into the break with the Free Staters 30-27 ahead. It was the third quarter that really lost it for the Limpopo team, however, as they could only manage eight goals to the Crinums’ 22. And despite a tight final quarter, the damage had been done, with the Free State side winning it 68-46.
Earlier in the day, the Kingdom Stars notched up their second win of the opening weekend’s action with a 54-30 victory over the Eastern Cape Aloes.
Having played their opener on Friday night, it was clear from the start that the KZN side already had a game under their belts, with much slicker passing and effective teamwork than their opponents from the Eastern Cape.
“I’ll never put away the Aloes. We did it last year where we were up the first quarter and then the Aloes took the game, so we never allowed them to actually come back at us,” said Kingdom Stars coach Madri Maritz afterwards. “We tried to build every single quarter, stay calm, play our game and just keep on going.”
This year’s Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League was officially opened with a special ceremony on Saturday afternoon attended by South Africa’s Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa, President of Netball South Africa Cecilia Molokwane, MMC Community Development for the City of Jo’burg – Nonhlanhla Sifumba and other netball dignitaries.
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VICTORY FOR CRINUMS AND KINGDOM STARS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Free State Crinums cruised to a 46-25 victory over the Mpumalanga Sunbirds in their Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) match at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena on Friday night.

Sindile Nkuna of the Sunbirds challenged by Maryke Coetzee of the Crinums during the 2018 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League match between the Crinums and Sunbirds at Ellis Park Arena, Johannesburg on 11 May 2018.

Photo Credit : Gavin Barker at Backpage Media


The Crinums, who finished fifth last year, after winning the first three tournaments, looked comfortable, although the Sunbirds performed better than the score line suggests. Both teams were tentative in the first quarter, but started finding their feet as the match continued. The defenders on both sides achieved a number of turnovers in the circle. At halftime, the Crinums were 36-18 ahead.
“The first game is always a bit of hide-and-seek,” said Crinums coach Burta de Kock.
“The Crinums are a fast team, but they didn’t use their speed to their advantage tonight. I changed the combinations every quarter, and gave all 12 players some game time. That’s very important in the first match of a tournament.
“There are a lot of wrinkles to iron out, but I am happy with the win.”
“We struggled in the first quarter,” said Sunbirds coach Marlie Nel.
“But they played better after that. I think a lot of it was down to nerves. We have some very young players – two of them were still at school last year. But we also have some very experienced players and I think we are going to do much better this year,” she said.
The Sunbirds finished ninth last year
Earlier, the Kingdom Stars got off to an excellent start, beating the Northern Cape Diamonds by 59 goals to 34.
Despite having lost top players like Proteas captain Bongi Msomi and veteran centre court player Precious Mthembu, the Stars looked slick and purposeful. They led by seven goals after the first quarter, and then extended their lead with every successive quarter. At halftime they were 31-15 ahead, and they led 42-22 after the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was the Diamonds’ best as they scored 12 goals – their highest in any quarter.
“It was a disappointing start to the tournament,” said coach Elfreda Luyt.
“They didn’t play the way they practiced, but they had a very early start and a long journey to get here.
“They can definitely play better than they did today, and I was pleased with the combination in the final quarter, when they finally clicked. But the Stars were definitely the better team.”
Kingdom Stars coach Madri Maritz was much happier with her team.
“I am very happy with our start,” she said.
“The combinations in the third quarter didn’t work too well, but generally I thought they played well.
“We are without some of our top players, but we are focusing on developing talent, and our team is an ideal blend of youth and experience. And I am very pleased to see the youngsters giving the senior players a run for their money,” said Maritz.

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AFRICA SHINES IN LATEST WORLD RANKINGS

SPAR Proteas remain number six on netball world rankings
SPAR Proteas top ranked African team on latest world rankings

Johannesburg, South Africa - It is 10 years since netball world rankings were first introduced, and South Africa has made steady progress up the ladder.
When the first rankings were announced in 2008, South Africa was ranked ninth, but the SPAR Proteas have since worked their way up to fifth position, overtaking their African rivals, Malawi, in the process.

The SPAR Proteas Pictured from left, back – Zanele Vimbela, Lenize Potgieter, Ine-Marie Venter, Phumza Maweni, Danelle Lochner, Maryka Holtzhausen, Karla Pretorius (Vice Captain).

Front – Bongi Msomi(Captain) ,Shandine Van Der Merwe , Precious Mthembu, Izzete Griesel, Erin Burger.

Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


This year, for the first time, three African countries are ranked in the top 10, with South Africa at five, Malawi at six, and Uganda at seven. Ten years ago, Uganda were not even in the top 15, so their progress up the ladder has been remarkable.
David Kendix, who devised the ranking system, told the International Netball Federation (INF) that Uganda’s rise to seventh position was an example of the value of world rankings.
“For sport to be meaningful you need to have surprises and upsets, you need to have teams that are getting to the top and others that are moving down,” said Kendix.
“You need to have that fluidity to keep sport interesting. Uganda’s rise has been a great achievement.”
Kendix said it was very exciting that the number of teams that are ranked has risen from 22 in 2008 to 40 now.
“I do believe that countries have been motivated by getting a ranking,” he said.

“Once a country has it, they don’t want to drop off the table. If you look across the ten-year period, I believe that the world rankings have acted as an incentive for some countries to play more than they would otherwise have done – which must be good for the game as a whole.”
The top four teams have remained unchanged over the past 10 years. Australia and New Zealand are ranked first and second respectively, followed by England in third place and Jamaica in fourth.
“Rankings play a crucial part in determining qualification for major events such as Commonwealth Games”, said Kendix .

“On a given date, July 1, it is the top 12 eligible countries who go through. If you are around the cut-off area, and you’ve got a Commonwealth Games spot at stake, then it certainly focuses the mind. To that extent, the rankings system is more than just general interest, it’s become part of the infrastructure of the sport, in so far as the rankings are driving qualification.”

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ENGLAND ROSES BEAT SPAR PROTEAS IN THE BATTLE OF THE FLOWERS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR SANZEA Netball Quad Series ended on a disappointing note for the SPAR Proteas, who went down 52-47 to the England Roses at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena on Sunday.

Erin Burger of the SPAR Proteas (l) and Jade Clarke in action during the Netball Quad Series match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park Arena on January 28, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


After trailing by as many as 12 goals at one stage, the Proteas fought back bravely in the final quarter, but were unable to close the gap.
In the early stages of the match, the teams were exchanging goal for goal until a wayward pass by wing attack Bongiwe Msomi gave England the chance to get ahead. For the rest of the first quarter, the teams remained very close, and the quarter ended with England leading by 16 goals to 13.
The damage was done in the second quarter, when the Proteas were unable to score more than nine goals, while England responded with 14. Although Proteas goalshooter Lenize Potgieter finished with the outstanding shooting average of 94 per cent, scoring 33 goals from 35 attempts in the match, the Roses did an excellent job of keeping the ball away from the Proteas’ circle, thus limiting Potgieter’s scoring opportunities.

At halftime, England were 30-22 ahead. The Proteas started their fight back in the third quarter and started to close the gap. Coach Norma Plummer made some changes, bringing on Shadine van der Merwe and Izette Griesel at wing defence and wing attack, and Zanele Vimbela at goalkeeper. The Proteas shared the third quarter with 13 goals each.
In the final quarter, Msomi came back on as centre and immediately picked up the pace. At one stage, the Proteas were within two goals of the Roses, but a couple of missed passes had the Roses back on top. However, the Proteas won the quarter by 12 goals to nine.
“It’s the mistakes after great turnovers that cost us the game,” said Plummer.

“The damage was done in the second quarter. The players have to learn to hang on in those crunch situations.”
Captain Msomi said the team had failed to capitalise when they had the ball in hand.
“We know where we went wrong, and we have to fix that,” she said.
“But we’ve had good results against the top three countries in the world, and we feel prepared to take on anyone at the Commonwealth Games”.
England coach Tracey Neville was delighted with her team’s performance. The victory secured them second place in the Quad Series.
“We feel that we are on our way, and we are determined to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“South Africa have improved tremendously over the past six months and they are always a tough team to play.

“The South African crowd was a new experience for us. There was a great vibe and they brought joy to the game,” said Neville.
Earlier, the Australian Diamonds coasted to a 67-48 victory over the New Zealand Silver Ferns..
The Silver Ferns, who beat the SPAR Proteas 51-46 on Thursday night, appeared flat and made a number of unforced errors. They managed to draw level with the Diamonds midway through the first quarter (5-5), but after that the Diamonds pulled away and the Ferns were unable to close the gap. At the end of the first quarter, the Diamonds led 17-9, and they stretched their lead with every successive quarter.

With the Commonwealth Games in Australia in mind, both teams made numerous changes so that all players were able to demonstrate their skills.
“We wanted a big win and we wanted a strong start, which is what we got,” said Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett.
“We put everything out there on court, and we focused on the processes we needed to do every quarter, and let the score take care of itself.”
“We were very disappointed,” said Ferns coach Janine Southby.
“I think we were adjusting to the climate and the altitude and we had a hard game against the Proteas on Thursday, but there are no excuses. We just weren’t good enough.”
Goalshooter Maria Falou, who, uncharacteristically, missed a number of shots at goal in the first quarter, said the team would have to study the video of the game and eliminate the errors that had been made.

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SPAR PROTEAS ACHIEVE BEST EVER RESULT AGAINST NETBALL WORLD CHAMPIONS

Johhanesburg, South Africa - The SPAR Proteas achieved their best ever result against Australia in their SANZEA Quad Series match at the Copper Bowl in London on Saturday.
The Australian Diamonds won the encounter 54-50, for their smallest winning margin over South Africa and the Proteas, who were 26-25 ahead at halftime, forced them to step up a gear in the final minutes to clinch the victory.
Australia won the first quarter 15-12, but the Proteas never let the Diamonds get away from them, with the goal difference never more than four goals.
With two minutes left in the second quarter, goalshooter Lenize Potgieter scored to bring the Proteas level on 24-all. The two teams exchanged goals, and then, with 20 seconds left in the first half, Potgieter scored again and the Proteas were 26-25 ahead at half time. They won the second quarter by 14 goals to 10.
The Diamonds brought on two new shooters in the third quarter, with Caitlin Bassett and Susan Pettitt replacing Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel Tippett, and they gradually drew back into the lead. They were 38-36 ahead at the end of the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Australia stepped up a gear as they fought to retain their dominance over the Proteas. But the South Africans were not giving up and threw everything they had into the match. Midway through the quarter, they once again drew level with the world champions on 45-all. The Australians fought hard and in the final five minutes of the match, began to pull away from the Proteas, with a succession of five unanswered goals. Potgieter and goal attack Maryke Holtzhausen came back with their own flurry of goals, before Bassett and Pettitt scored three in succession. With 15 seconds to go, Holtzhausen scored to limit the goal difference to four.
Goalkeeper Phumza Maweni had an outstanding game, with a number of intercepts, while wing attack Bongi Msomi appeared to be everywhere on the court. Her performance earned the South African captain the player of the match award.
“I am so proud of the team,” said Msomi.
“Every time we step on the court against the top teams, we reduce their winning margins. I am also very proud that we played at the same intensity for the full hour. We are growing with every match, and we believe we can beat the very best,” she said.
“It was such a great team performance that I would like to divide this medal, so that we can all share it.”
Coach Norma Plummer was delighted with the team’s performance, particularly as they had not played any internationals since the last Quad Series tournaments in New Zealand and Australia, while the two top teams had both played a number of Tests.
“We used to lose by 50 goals,” she said.
“The top teams need to look out – South Africa is right up there with them.”
The Proteas take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena at 7 o’clock next Thursday evening. They play the England Roses at the same venue at 2.30 pm on Sunday. Tickets are available from Computicket.


HARD WORK AHEAD FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa -The head coach of the SPAR Proteas national netball team, Norma Plummer, says the Proteas have a lot of work to do in the SANZEA Quad Series, involving Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.

SPAR Proteas head coach Norma Plummer.
Photo credit : Getty Images


Speaking shortly before the team left for London for the fourth leg of the series, Plummer said Australia and New Zealand had played a number of Tests since the second and third legs in September last year.
“England have also played a number of Tests, so the other three teams are match ready,” said Plummer.
“That is a bit concerning, but I was very pleased with the training camp we have just had. The players had worked hard on their individual programmes during the break, and their fitness levels were good. But it is disappointing that we weren’t able to arrange any international matches.
“We will be playing against the Australian Diamonds on Saturday. They are the reigning world champions, and it is important for us to be as competitive as possible against them,” she said.
“We are steadily closing the gap between us and the two top teams, Australia and New Zealand.
“We play the New Zealand Silver Ferns and the England Roses in Johannesburg the following week and we are working towards good results in both matches.”
South Africa beat England 54-51 in their last Quad Series encounter, at Invercargill, New Zealand.
Plummer said the Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast were just around the corner and the players had a lot to do ahead of the Games.
“We are planning matches against Australian league teams ahead of the Games. We need some tough practice matches to get the players into the right frame of mind,” she said.
“We are lucky that seven of our best players will be playing in tough overseas leagues between the Quad Series and the Commonwealth Games. Two will play in Australia, one in New Zealand and four in England. That extra experience will be invaluable for the whole team.”
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SPAR Quad Series Schedule:

Thursday January 25 19:00pm SPAR Proteas vs New Zealand Silver Ferns
Sunday January 28 12:00pm Australian Diamonds vs New Zealand Silver Ferns
14:30pm SPAR Proteas vs England Roses

FILLUPELLISPARK

Tickets for the Quad Series can be bought at Computicket.

Thursday 25 January 2018 :
• R30.00 per person per day
• Sunday is R30 for two matches our present to supports

Sunday 28 January 2018 :
• R30.00 per person


STRONG TEAM FOR NETBALL QUAD SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) has announced a strong and experienced SPAR Protea team for the Quad Series presented by SPAR to be played in England and South Africa later this month.

Pictured from left ; back – Maryka Holtzhausen, Lenize Potgieter, Karla Pretorius (Vice Captain), Ine-Marie Venter , Danelle Lochner, Phumza Maweni, Zanele Vimbela, Erin Burger
Front – Precious Mthembu, Shadine Van Der Merwe, Bongi Msomi (Captain), Izette Griesel
Photo credit : Netball South Africa


Former Under-21 player Shadine van der Merwe is the only new cap in the 12-member squad, which was announced on Friday during a training camp in Johannesburg.
Head coach of the SPAR Proteas Norma Plummer said she was very happy with the standards achieved by the players at the training camp.
“It’s always difficult to maintain your fitness at this time of year,” said Plummer.
“There was no club netball over the festive season and the players had to work on their own fitness programmes. I was very impressed with the amount of work they were able to put in. They did an excellent job of keeping fit.
“We played several matches yesterday and this morning, and with only 16 players in the training camp, they had very little time off, but were able to keep up the intensity,” she said.
Plummer said she was excited about shooter Danelle Lochner, who was part of the team that went to the Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand last year.
“She was in the team for the Under-21 World Cup in Botswana last year, and was included in the training camp after the SPAR National Championships. She forced her way into the team. She is a very strong player and she doesn’t back away,” said Plummer.
“Another player who impressed me was Ina-Marie Venter. She is so much better than she was in the Quad Series last year. She is proof that travelling with the senior players pays off. She looks much more experienced now, and she had the best shooting figures at the training camp.
“It is also heartening to see how well Maryke Holtzhausen has recovered from her knee injury. She appears to be stronger than ever. Unfortunately, Siggie Burger did not have the match fitness she needed, but she is going to England to play in the Super League there, and we are expecting great things from her when she gets back.”
The SPAR Proteas leave for London on Tuesday for the English leg of the Quad Series, where they will play the Australian Diamonds on Saturday January 20. The four teams then travel to South Africa for the South African leg, which will be played at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena. The Proteas will play the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Thursday January 25 and the England Roses on Sunday January 28.
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Tickets

Tickets for the Quad Series can be bought at Computicket.
Thursday 25 January 2018 :
• R30.00 per person per day
• Sunday is R30 for two matches our present to supports

Sunday 28 January 2018 :
• R30.00 per person

SPAR Protea netball team
Bongiwe Msomi (capt), Karla Pretorius (vice capt), Erin Burger, Izette Griesel, Maryke Holtzhausen, Danelle Lochner, Phumza Maweni, Precious Mthembu, Lenize Potgieter, Shadine van der Merwe, Ina-Marie Venter, Zanele Vimbela
Head Coach : Norma Plummer
Assistant Coaches : Elsje Jordaan, Nicole Cusack
Manager : Nisha Rupnarain
Medical : Nande Mjajubana
Analyst : Cristy Mullender


GAUTENG WIN THRILLING SPAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL IN EXTRA TIME

Durban, South Africa - Gauteng squeaked home by one goal after extra time to beat the defending champions, Western Cape and win the 2017 SPAR National Netball Championships 47-46 in a thrilling final at Hoy Park on Saturday.

Chante Louw of Gauteng (r) and Stephanie Brandt of Western Cape in action during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 12, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

The triumphant North West u/21 team after they beat Gauteng in the u/21 final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 12, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


Gauteng were four goals up after the first few minutes, but Western Cape responded with a flurry of seven unanswered goals.
The lead changed hands frequently during the match as the game swept up and down the court. At the end of the first quarter, Western Cape were 10-8 up, but Gauteng won the second quarter, which ended 19-all. After the third quarter, Western Cape led 31-30. Both teams played their hearts out in the final quarter. At one stage, with less than four minutes to go, Gauteng had a lead of five goals, but Western Cape coach Annelie Lucas brought her star shooter, Jambaye “Bakie” Zauana, back on, and Western Cape clawed their way back to level the scores on 40-all. With the seconds ticking away, Gauteng captain Chante Louw, tried to score the winning goal, but the ball rolled round the ring and dropped off the wrong side.

The game went into extra time. The crowd got involved, cheering their favourites on, singing and dancing. After the first seven minutes of extra time, Western Cape had a 44-42 lead. In the final seven minutes, fortunes swung both ways, with first one team, then the other, getting the upper hand. With less than a minute to go, Gauteng scored, to take the score to 47-46. Western Cape had the next centre pass and tried to level the score again, but the shot at goal missed and the Gauteng players jumped for joy.

It was a worthy final after a week of exciting netball. Gauteng were unbeaten, although they drew with North West during the round robin phase. Western Cape lost only two matches, both of them to Gauteng.

Gauteng Coach Jenny van Dyk said they had been preparing for the final since last year.
“We trained at the hottest time of the day, and we put them under pressure. Decision-making under pressure is the key to winning big matches,” she said.
“When things were getting tight, I told them to settle down and make matters simple – to take the ball with both hands and to keep calm.
Earlier, North West won the Under-21 final, beating Gauteng 44-36. It was the third year in a row that North West won the title.

Chante Louw was named shooter of the tournament. Rome Dreyer of North West was named the best centre court player, Jessica Khomo of KwaZulu Natal the best defender, and Shadine van der Merwe of Western Cape the best overall player.


GAUTENG UNBEATEN AT SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHPS

Durban, South Africa - Gauteng remained unbeaten at the end of the round robin section of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoy Park with a 45-25 victory over Mpumalanga on Friday.

Shongile Hlungwana of Gauteng in action against Mpumalanga during day 5 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 11, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


The match against one of the weaker teams gave Gauteng coach Jenny van Dyk the opportunity to give some of her bench players a run and to rest critical players ahead of the final against defending champions Western Cape on Saturday. The match against was by no means a walkover as the Mpumalanga defense was tight and the Gauteng shooters had to fight hard to score.

Van Dyk said afterwards she was pleased with the way the tournament had progressed and Friday’s match had been a good workout ahead of the final.
“We’ve been preparing for the final since Day One, working on our tactics and strategies,” she said.

“I took pages of notes during our match against Western Cape yesterday, and we will spend some time seeing where we did not execute our game plan. But it will all depend on the quality of decision-making on the court tomorrow. I can do as much as I can to prepare them, but it is down to the players on the court.”
Western Cape breezed past Northern Cape, beating them 69-12.

“It was a nice relaxed game, and we are going to relax today,” said coach Annelie Lucas.

“The girls are going to the beach this afternoon and they are not going to think about netball. They know what they have to do tomorrow. I have a few options up my sleeve. What we are going to focus on is a tight defense and the need to get the ball into the circle so that our shooters can score goals.”

North West thumped Eastern Cape 57-15 to finish the tournament in fourth position, while last year’s finalists, Free State beat KwaZulu Natal 50-39. They clinched the bronze medal when they beat North West 35-28 on Thursday.


DUNLOP BUNDES LEAGUE RETURNS TO ELLIS PARK

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s premier men’s and women’s club tennis league, the Dunlop Bundes League will return to Ellis Park in Johannesburg this weekend.

The premier league hosted by the Gauteng Central Tennis Association was last played at Ellis Park the “grand old lady of tennis” three years ago. In its 22 years of existence, the Dunlop Premier League has always had its home at Ellis Park but for the past three years different clubs in the greater Johannesburg area have been given the opportunity to host the league.

The provinces top six men’s and women’s teams will compete for title honours each Saturday afternoon from 12 August to 9 September. The league is run on a Round-Robin basis over the five weekends.

The 6 participating men’s teams are:

Marks Park A; Wanderers A; Fairland A; Bedfordview A; Old Edwardians A and Randburg A

The 6 participating women’s teams are:

Bryanston A; Rivonia A; Randburg A; Old Edwardians A; Boskruin A; Marks Park A

Last year’s runner-up, Marks Park A are seen to be men’s title favourites with 2016 champions Bryanston deciding to not defend their title due to a contractual dispute with
Gauteng Central Tennis Association. Wanderers A are earmarked as possible dark horses this year.
In the women’s league, Bryanston A would appear favourites to repeat their victory in 2016. However age and injury might play a role in opening the door to the experienced Marks Park A side or even the youthful exuberance of Observatory A.
With the possibility of rising stars like Bertus Kruger and Richard Thongoana, both Junior Davis Cup players participating and former National Champion Bradwin Williams in action the
Dunlop Bundes League is sure to live up to its billing of the country’s premier club tennis league.


THREE TOP TEAMS STILL UNBEATEN AT SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - Western Cape continued their campaign to defend the title they won last year with two victories on the second day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoy Park Sports Complex in Durban on Tuesday.

Jo Prins of Western Cape in action against Eastern Cape during day 2 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 08, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott


They had a very comfortable win over Eastern Cape in their morning match, beating their neighbours 73-10. The victory was no surprise and Western Cape dominated throughout the match.

Their second match, against North West, was much tougher. The two top four teams were neck and neck early in the match, and at the end of the first quarter, were level on 11-each. Both teams included some untried players in the place of their SPAR Proteas, who are not playing in the tournament, as well as players who have moved to other provinces, but in the end it was Western Cape that prevailed. At halftime, they were 21-18 ahead, and they led 32-28 at the end of the third quarter. The coastal team then pulled out all the stops and won the match 43-34.

Coach Annelie Lucas said she had expected a tough match, and was slightly surprised at the final goal difference.

“At the start of the first quarter, I told them to watch what the North West players were doing, and then we worked out our strategy accordingly,” she said.

“I knew they had new shooters and I believe we have the best defenders in the country. They turn a lot of balls and that gives us a chance.

“Our defenders did their work and we gradually gained control of the game.”
Western Cape have their toughest match so far on Wednesday, against Gauteng, and Lucas said they would prepare carefully for that encounter.

“What we need is patience and accurate shooters, and I believe that will help us to win that match.”
Gauteng also won both their matches on Tuesday, beating Kwa-Zulu Natal 47-29 and Eastern Cape 46-26. Coach Jenny van Dyk said she was very happy with her team’s performance so far.

“The absence of our Proteas means we can test our depth and give opportunities to untried players,” she said.
“We had a very physical match against KZN, but our defenders were very good and that helped us.
“If we can play consistent netball, I believe we can win the title,” said Van Dyk.

In other matches played on Tuesday, Free State also won both their matches, beating Mpumalanga 46-26 and Northern Cape 66-14. North West won their morning match, beating Northern Cape 53-27. Kwa-Zulu Natal beat Mpumalanga 37-34.


SOUTH AFRICA BEAT PHYSICAL ZIMBABWE

Botswana, Gaborone – The SPAR Baby Proteas overcame a feisty Zimbabwe to record their second victory at the World Netball Youth Cup in Gaborone, Botswana, on Sunday. They beat their northern neighbours 56-42 after leading 28-22 at halftime.

Khanyisa Chamane of the SPAR Baby Proteas and Shallom Ncube of Zimbabwe compete for the ball in their game during day 2 of the Netball World Youth Cup at the Ditshupo Hall on July 09, 2017 in Gaborone, Botswana.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


Zimbabwe came storming out and went into an early lead, leaving the South Africans slightly shell-shocked. But by the middle of the first quarter, the SPAR Baby Proteas had eased past them to lead by 14 goals to 10 at the first break.

The match was very physical, and supporters of both teams got into the spirit of things, chanting slogans and blowing vuvuzelas.

The second quarter was fairly even, with neither side able to dominate. They generally managed to hold their centre passes, but both teams achieved some excellent turnovers, with the ball moving from end to end.

In the third quarter, Zimbabwe managed to reduce the goal deficit to two, before SPAR Baby Proteas clawed their way back into the game and extended the margin to six goals.

However, the Zimbabweans appeared to wilt in the final quarter, as SPAR Baby Proteas took control of the court. The Zimbabwean coach brought on a string of substitutes to provide fresh legs, but by this time the SPAR Baby Proteas had surged ahead, leaving Zimbabwe with too much to do.

SPAR Baby Proteas coach, Dorette Badenhorst said she had expected a tough and very physical match and had selected her team accordingly.

We played them in the qualifiers and I knew what to expect, so I chose players who were able to stand up to the physicality,” she said.

I am very pleased we have a day off tomorrow so we can recover and prepare for our matches against Singapore and Australia on Tuesday and Wednesday.”


SPAR BABY PROTEAS OFF TO GOOD START

Gaborone, Botswana – The SPAR Baby Proteas got their Netball World Youth Cup campaign in Gaborone off to the best possible start on Saturday, with a crushing 62-30 win over Barbados.

Danelle Lochner of the SPAR Baby Proteas shoots for goal against Barbados during day 1 of the Netball World Youth Cup at the Ditshupo Hall on July 08, 2017 in Gaborone, Botswana.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Dorette Badenhorst’s team showed their intent from the start, racing to a nine-goal lead at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, the SPAR Baby Proteas were ahead by 33 to 14. With a substantial lead, Badenhorst was able to bring on her bench players after the break.

Barbados fought back in the third quarter, restricting South Africa to 12 goals and scoring 11 - their highest total in the match, but it was back to normal service in the final quarter, with the South Africans outscoring the islanders by 17 goals to 5.

The South African attack was in good form and the defenders were very effective, particularly in the circle. Badenhorst was delighted with the result.

It’s a great start and a confidence booster for the rest of the tournament, ” she said. “We didn’t know much about Barbados, but they came seventh at the last Youth World Cup, so I expected a harder fight.

Our girls showed a lot of character, and I am very proud of them. It is always good to start with a win and we are very excited about the rest of the tournament.”


STATEMENT BY NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa – Netball South Africa (NSA) has issued the following statement about allegations of financial mismanagement reported by the SABC and a Sunday newspaper:
“Netball South Africa has taken note of reports by the SABC and a Sunday newspaper of financial mismanagement within NSA.
NSA rejects the allegations and is willing to cooperate fully with any inquiry into its financial affairs.
NSA has referred the allegations to its lawyers and is taking legal action.”
Further NSA confirmed that they would be meeting with SASCOC President, Gideon Sam on Tuesday to discuss the allegations.


AUSTRALIA A TOUGH PROSPECT FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Durban, South Africa - After a day of relaxation following their thrilling match against England on Saturday, the SPAR Proteas were hard at work on Monday preparing for their Quad Series match against world champions Australia on Tuesday night.
Fifth-ranked South Africa forced third-ranked England into extra time, drawing 48-all at fulltime. The more experienced England Roses won the match by 60 goals to 55, but the Proteas could hold their heads high after storming back from an eleven-goal deficit at halftime.
Head coach Norma Plummer said they had watched video footage of the match and analysed where they had gone wrong and what they needed to work on.
“Our start wasn’t good and we weren’t on the money on the shots. We were letting ourselves down and we weren’t converting, so those are two of the areas we will work on,” said Plummer.
She said she would not necessarily have the same starting line-up for the match against Australia.
“I’m running the third end players at the moment,” she said.
“I still have some options I want to look at. The Commonwealth Games are next year, not this year, and I want to make sure by the time we get to the Commonwealth Games we’ve picked the right blend and have all the options in the players we select.”
Assistant coach Jenny van Dyk said there was a vast difference between England and Australia.
“The Aussies have been at the forefront of netball for quite a while and the amount of match opportunities they have is really what sets them apart,” said Van Dyk.
“We will spend time this afternoon planning our strategy for the Australian match, and working on our own game plan.”
“As much as we did well against England, tomorrow is going to be much tougher said assistant coach Dumisane Chauke.
“We’ve been playing more with the top three in the world, and the more we play them, the better we’ll get. We’ll be focussing on what we can do as a team and keeping the South African flair will do wonders for us.
“We’re probably going to focus on the goal circle players and getting the feeds into the circle. Playing the triangle and forcing our goalshooters not to move around so much, but to play to their strengths. Lenise Potgieter is the standing, holding shooter and we’ll be focussing on that in preparation for tomorrow’s game,” said Chauke.
The match will be played at the Durban International Convention Centre at 7 o’clock on Tuesday night. The Proteas set off almost immediately after that for the United Kingdom, where the fourth and final leg of the SANZEA Quad Series will be played.


SOUTH AFRICA DRAW WITH ENGLAND, BUT LOSE IN EXTRA TIME

Durban, South Africa - There was heartbreak for South Africa in their SANZEA Quad Series netball match against England at the Durban ICC Arena on Saturday.
After fighting back from a 11-goal deficit at halftime, the SPAR Proteas were level on 48-all at fulltime but the more experienced England team won the match 60-55 in extra time.
It was South Africa’s best performance against a top three team since 2013, when they beat a second-strong England team.
The SPAR Proteas started strongly, taking the early lead, and it took England 10 minutes to draw level on 7-all. They ended the first quarter 11-8 ahead, and by halftime they led by 28 goals to 17.
Shortly after the start of the second quarter, Proteas coach Norma Plummer brought Izette Lubbe on for Bongi Msomi at wing attack, and she replaced Renske Stoltz with Lindie Lombard at goal attack in the third quarter. Lombard, who has been plagued with injuries, and has been in and out of the squad, brought new energy to the South Africans, who scored eight goals to one in the first four minutes. Boosted by the vociferous support of the crowd, the Proteas won the quarter by 17 goals to 11 and in the fifth minute of the final quarter, they drew level at 40-all. From then on, the lead changed hands minute by minute. Just before fulltime, South Africa scored but the umpire ruled that centre Erin Burger’s knee had been over the line, and disallowed the goal.
Plummer was delighted with the team’s performance and said it was a sign of how far they had come.
“I thought they were outstanding,” she said.
“That 11-goal turnaround – you don’t often get that. We did actually have the game and then the umpire decided Erin’s knee was over the line. But it’s the first time they have taken a top three team into overtime, so you have to admire what they did.
“Lindie came on and she played a blinder. She brought us back into the whole match.”
Plummer said Australia would be another step up for the team, but South Africa had nothing to lose.
“We don’t want to play teams below us, we want to challenge the top teams,” she said.
England coach Tracey Neville said South Africa came out as hard in the third quarter as they had in the first.
“We weren’t expecting that, and I think we were too casual. We gave cheap ball away and we stopped driving, and you get crucified by any team when you do that,” said Neville.
“I think their two tactical changes were crucial. We didn’t adapt to that well. The wing attack helped get the ball into the top of their circle, and Lombard offered (goalshooter) Lenise Potgieter more opportunities.”
Earlier, the Australian Diamonds proved once again why they are number one in the world with a clinical 57-50 victory over the New Zealand Ferns in the opening match.
Australia stamped their authority from the start, and it was only in the fifth minute that New Zealand were able to score their first goal. The Diamonds led 16-10 after the third quarter and 30-23 at halftime. With some outstanding shooting by Bailey Mes and the charismatic Maria Tutaia, New Zealand were able to reduce the deficit to three goals, but each time they did so, Australia came back to stretch the goal deficit again. Australia won the third quarter 15-14, but with the crowd behind them, cheering every goal, New Zealand won the last quarter 13-12. Once again, New Zealand came within three goals of Australia, but each time they did so, Australia counter-attacked and surged ahead again.
Goal attack Susan Pettitt, making her first appearance for Australia in three and a half years, slotted seamlessly back into the team and was named player of the match for her performance.
“I am so happy to be back,” she said.
“I have been working very hard and it felt really good to be on court for Australia again. I think we are doing well because we have confidence in one another.”
Australian coach Lisa Alexander said she was disappointed that they had lost the final quarter.
“We set ourselves targets and one of these is to win all four quarters. So we still have plenty to work on. But I am thrilled that we executed our plans so well against top quality opposition.”
Captain Sharni Layton said the vocal support for New Zealand had affected the Diamonds in the final quarter.
“We enjoyed the hype, but we know that it is going to be even more when we play South Africa on Tuesday. We know we will have to concentrate on our own game and not get caught up in the hype.”


SOUTH AFRICA WINS NETBALL DIAMOND CHALLENGE

Durban, South Africa - South Africa retained their netball Diamond Challenge title with an emphatic 68-34 victory over Zimbabwe at the University of Durban-Westville on Wednesday night.

SPAR Proteas (position) Precious Mthembu holds the winning Diamond Challenge trophy as she and her team mates do a lap of honour at the University of KZN Westville Campus Tuesday evening. The SPAR Proteas beat Zimbabwe 68-34 in the final to retain their title.

The SPAR Proteas (position) celebrate after defending their title at the 2016 Diamond Challenge played at the University of KZN Westville Campus Tuesday evening. The SPAR Proteas beat Zimbabwe 68-34 in the final.

Photo Credit : Gerhard Duraan


The SPAR Proteas stamped their authority on the match from the start and were 18-11 up after the first quarter. That was Zimbabwe’s most successful quarter, as they were unable to reach double figures in the succeeding quarters. The match was played at a very fast pace, and the Zimbabweans gave a good account of themselves, but the vastly more experienced SPAR Proteas were just too much for them.
The South African midfielders were all outstanding, with Precious Mthembu at wing defence and Bongi Msomi at wing attack snatching balls from midair and turning over balls on numerous occasions. There were some thrilling passages of play and the Zimbabwean wing attack, Perpetua Siyachitema once again enthralled the crowd with her speed and footwork.
The three South African shooters, Sigi Burger, Lenize Potgieter and Renske Stoltz all had very good games. Potgieter played first at goal attack and then at goalshooter and her calm presence in the circle did much for the South African cause.
“A job well done,” said coach Norma Plummer.
“We’d played Zimbabwe before, so we knew what to expect. I started with a different line-up, because what I have been trying to do since I’ve been here is introduce new options and different styles of play.
“I think they have all responded well, and they are picking up on all the new ideas.
“It has been very rewarding as a coach,” said Plummer.
She said the performance of the President’s XII was also very pleasing, because it showed the depth of South African netball.
The earlier match, between Uganda and the President’s XII, ended in a thrilling 54-all draw, after Uganda led for most of the match.
Uganda dominated the first half, leading 12-8 after the first quarter and 27-24 at halftime. The President’s XII drew level with three minutes to go in before the halftime whistle, but Uganda responded with three goals in a row.
The third quarter also belonged to Uganda, who outscored the President’s XII by 15 goals to 13. In the final quarter, the President’s XII fought back. With just 90 seconds to go, they went into the lead for the first time. The ball swung from end to end, with the defence on both sides giving everything they had. Uganda went into the lead again and Lindie Lombard scored the equalizing goal in the dying seconds.


SPAR PROTEAS STEP UPGEAR

Durban, South Africa - After a lacklustre start, the SPAR Proteas stepped up a gear and beat the President’s XII comfortably, by 56 goals to 35, in their Diamond Challenge match at the University of Durban-Westville on Tuesday night.
With nothing to lose, the President’s XII got off to a terrific start, and were 12-10 ahead at the end of the first quarter. Coach Norma Plummer had strong words with her team during the break, and the Proteas came back strongly in the second quarter, drawing level in the first three minutes and extending their lead as the match went on. They were 26-20 ahead at halftime, and they just got better and better.
Erin Burger, playing her 91st game for South Africa, showed her class with some outstanding intercepts, and feisty goal attack Renske Stoltz combined well, first with her provincial teammate, Sigi Burger and then with Lenize Potgieter to keep the goals flowing. At the other end of the court, Phumza Mawena made life difficult for the President’s XII shooters, although Lindie Lombard had a good game.
Coach Norma Plummer said she had expected the President’s XII to start well, and she was pleased the Proteas had come back so strongly.
“It was a very good match,” she said.
“It was good to see how well the President’s XII played. There are players there who are knocking on the door and the Proteas are aware that they can’t be complacent.
“It is important to have a strong underpinning, so that if a player is injured, there is someone ready to take her place without skipping a beat,” said Plummer.
“The President’s XII have shown they are ready.”
Earlier, Zimbabwe, who are ranked 21st in the world, caused an upset when they beat Uganda, ranked eighth, 42-39. Zimbabwe went into the lead from the middle of the first quarter, and in the second quarter, outscored Uganda by 12 goals to seven to lead 23-17 at halftime. Their performance in the second quarter proved decisive, because Uganda won the third and fourth quarters, 11-9 and 11-10, but Zimbabwe’s six-goal cushion at halftime saw them through to victory.
The Zimbabwean captain Perpetua Siyachitema was once again outstanding at wing defence, as was player of the match Pauline Jani, the Zimbabwean goalshooter.
Their victory means Zimbabwe will play the SPAR Proteas in the final on Wednesday night. Although the President’s XII won more round robin matches, as an unranked team they are not allowed to play in the final of an official tournament.


SPAR PROTEAS THUMP UGANDA 59-27 AT DIAMOND CHALLENGE

Durban, South Africa - The SPAR Proteas continued their winning ways in the netball Diamond Challenge at the University of Durban-Westville on Monday, when they thumped Uganda by a massive 59 goals to 27.

SPAR Proteas goal shooter Sigi Burger prepares to shoot at goal during SA Proteas 59-27 win against Uganda at the Diamond Challenge being played at the University Of Kwazulu Natal Westville on Monday 3 October 2016.

Photo Credit : Gerhard Duraan


Uganda started well and a mistake in the opening passage of play gave them the opportunity to score off South Africa’s first centre pass. They were two goals up before South Africa scored their first, and maintained their slender lead for much of the first quarter, until the Proteas drew level and then passed them in the last two minutes to finish 12-8 ahead.
The Proteas took control of the match in the second quarter, and by halftime were leading 24-15. Uganda managed only five goals in the third quarter and seven in the final, in reply to South Africa’s 17 and 18 goals. Goalshooter Lenize Potgieter and goal attack and player of the match Renske Stoltz were both on song, with Stoltz in particular netting the ball from all areas in the circle. SigiBurger came on in the final quarter, and maintained the high success rate.
Erin Burger and captain Bongi Msomi were both outstanding, keeping the ball moving in the right direction and intercepting frequent passes.
It was a very physical match, with players crashing to the floor on several occasions. Tempers flared at times, but the umpires kept matters under control.
“We knew it was going to be very physical and frustrating,” said Msomi.
“But I like the fact that as a team we can look at each other and get strength from one another. We weren’t really worried about them getting ahead of us, because we knew we could always come back. We have a lot of trust in the team and that keeps us going when things start getting tough.”
The last time the two teams met was in the World Cup in Sydney last year, where South Africa won by 50 goals to 40.

In Tuesday’s matches, Uganda play Zimbabwe, and the Proteas take on the President’s XII.


SPAR PROTEAS OFF TO A GOOD START IN DIAMOND CHALLENGE

Durban, South Africa - Defending champions South Africa got off to the best possible start in the netball Diamond Challenge at the University of Durban Westville on Sunday, with an emphatic 70-35 trouncing of Zimbabwe.
The SPAR Proteas were in control throughout the game, despite some spirited play by Zimbabwe. They were 20-7 ahead after the first quarter, and led 37-20 at halftime.
Zimbabwe had their best results in the third quarter, which South Africa won by only three goals, but the Zimbabweans’ lack of international experience was obvious.
The South Africa defence was outstanding, with Phumza Maweni and Karla Mostert making life hard for the Zimbabweans in their circle. Maweni achieved some outrageous intercepts and earned the player of the match award for her efforts.
Coach Norma Plummer rang the changes, using all members of the squad, apart from Vanes-Mari du Toit, who had a slight injury. She tried a number of combinations and played some of the team out of their usual positions. One of these was goalshooter Lenize Potgieter, who played goal attack in the last quarter, and seemed to relish the greater freedom of movement.
“I have told them they all need to be able to play in at least two positions, so that we have greater flexibility,” said Plummer.
“We don’t want to be one-dimensional.”
She said she was happy with the Proteas’ performance, although there were still areas where they needed to improve.
“They still need to let the ball go quicker, and they missed some sitters, but they are getting better all the time,” she said.
She said Zimbabwe suffered from the lack of international exposure, but she thought they would get better as the tournament continued.
“They have some very good players and it is just lack of experience,” she said.
The Zimbabwean captain, Perpetua Siyachitema impressed at wing attack and goalshooter Pauline Jani, sporting long braids in her national colours, had a good game when she could get past Maweni and Mostert.
Earlier, the President’s XII beat Uganda by 55 goals to 50. The South Africans started off well, and were three up before Uganda scored their first goal, but the East African team drew level midway through the quarter, forcing the South Africans to up their game.
The President’s XII led 16-13 after the first quarter, and at one stage were eight goals ahead. The She-Cranes pulled things back with a volley of unanswered goals, but were still five goals behind at halftime. (29-24)
It was in the final quarter that the Ugandans came back strongly, and at one stage they were only one goal behind. They won the quarter by 15 goals to 13, but it was too little, too late.
Their goal attack and captain, Irene Erayu, was outstanding, achieving some brilliant intercepts and shooting accurately. At the other end of the court, Lindie Lombard, who was named player of the match, also had a very good game and goalshooter Ine-Marie Venter grew in confidence throughout the match, shooting from the edge of the circle and making good use of the ball when it was in her circle. Although the She-Cranes threatened, the President’s XII stood firm, and finished the match with a five goal victory.
On Monday, the Proteas play Uganda at 6pm, and the President’s XII take on Zimbabwe at 8pm.

Ends


SPAR PROTEAS TO TAKE ON MIGHTY SILVER FERNS IN NETBALL QUAD SERIES

Hamilton, New Zealand - Before they even take the court, the SPAR Proteas have received kudos from the Silver Ferns, their next rivals in the international Netball Quad Series, as a team to respect and be wary of.

The New Zealand and South African sides will square off tomorrow (Wednesday) in the North Island city of Hamilton for the second round of the inaugural competition, which will also feature the clash between Australia and England, in Adelaide.

While the SPAR Proteas are smarting from a 25-goal loss to the Australian Diamonds at the weekend, Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby has no doubts the constantly-improving South African team are a side to be reckoned with.

“They are a bit unorthodox in their style, with a fit little midcourt who could be quite a challenge,” says Southby, who made her coaching debut for New Zealand last Saturday in a 26-goal victory over the lacklustre English Roses.

“The Proteas” goal shoot [Lenize Potgieter] has a strong shot and she put some great shots up against Australia. There are definitely some great players amongst them. We respect that it will be a tough game and we will have to put out our best performance.”

The SPAR Proteas coaches Norma Plummer and Nicole Cusack also believe their team has the skills and enthusiasm to foot it with the New Zealanders, ranked No. 2 in the world, but they are simply lacking in experience at the top international level.

Cusack, a former Australian international shooter, praised her players for their ability to learn so rapidly in this campaign.

“They are so keen, and so quick to pick things up. Some of the older girls say ‘I wish I had known this 10 years ago!’ This Quad Series allows them to learn so much from playing the best teams in the world,” Cusack says.

Since arriving in Hamilton on Sunday (where the temperature has been a nippy 12 degrees Celsius), the SPAR Proteas have had two training sessions a day, focusing on combating the New Zealand style of play.

“Before the test against Australia, we worked on the one-on-one defence, but now we’re getting the girls used to the New Zealand zone style of play,” says Cusack. “We want to give the few who haven’t played a lot of international netball before a taste of that.”

Although the Silver Ferns have been hit hard by illness, injury and unavailability leading in to this series, they have already shown their depth by producing some potent new combinations in their 65-39 victory over England.

“There will be a lot of aerial ball coming in to the circle for our defenders to deal with, and we have to keep moving the ball on attack to draw the spaces for our attackers. We can expect the typical Kiwi style of zone defence, clogging up the midcourt for us,” Cusack says.

Lifting their spirits after the loss to Australia has not been a problem for the SPAR Proteas management team. “While the players were disappointed with the loss, because they always want to do better, they definitely saw an improvement in their game from the last time they played Australia,” says Cusack. “They were keen to look at the video analysis and see what other options they could have taken. But they are upbeat and so are we.”

While the SPAR Proteas are determined to give the Silver Ferns a run for their money at the Claudelands Arena venue, the coaching team want to give more players the opportunity of international exposure.

“We want to be competitive, and keep the score-line close. We’re definitely out to have a good go at them,” says Cusack. “But we also want to put some fresh legs out there. But there are some young players who are quite capable of matching it out there. They might go out there and blitz it, so you’ve got to give them that opportunity.”

Players like goalkeeper Jeanie Steyn, and shooters Renske Stolz and Siggie Burger, who all made their international debuts this year against Wales.

After this test, the SPAR Proteas will leave New Zealand for Melbourne, where they will play the England Roses on Sunday.

The South Africa vs New Zealand game with be broadcast live on SuperSport (09:35 on channel 210)

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MSOMI NAMED CAPTAIN OF SPAR NETBALL PROTEAS

Pretoria, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Thursday that KwaZulu Natal captain Bongiwe Msomi will captain the SPAR Proteas on their tour of New Zealand and Australia later this month for the Quad Series.

Bongi Msomi the newly appointed captain of the SPAR Proteas team on court at the Diamond Challenge last year in Port Shepstone Ugu Sports and Leisure center.

Karla Mostert the newly appointed vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas team at Hoy Park in Durban during the SPAR National Netball Championships 2016 .
Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


Msomi succeeds Maryka Holtzhausen, who suffered a devastating knee injury during the SPAR national championships in Durban last week. Holtzhausen underwent surgery on Wednesday and could be out of action for up to eight months.
“I am very honoured to have been named captain,” said Msomi, who is a midcourt player.
“I have great respect for Maryka as a leader and as a player, and we are all so sad that this has happened to her. But I have been her vice captain for some time, and that will make it easier for me to take over. I will also always be able to consult her.”
Free State goal defence Karla Mostert was named vice captain of the team. She said the appointment was not a total surprise.
“Some time ago, a Proteas leadership team was formed, and I was a member of that team. I have captained the Free State Varsity Cup team, so I am quite used to playing a leadership role,” said Mostert.
“Bongi and I have played together for a long time and I think we will work well together.”
The Proteas leave for New Zealand on Saturday. They will meet up with their Australia coach Norma Plummer ahead of their opening match against Australia in Auckland on Saturday August 27. Both leaders believe the time has come for South Africa to step up a gear and challenge the world’s three top teams.
“We have been working hard with Norma and I think we have learned a lot. We put some of it into practice in the series against Wales and we are looking forward to doing it against the best,” said Msomi.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us, and the best way of gauging where we are.”
The SPAR Proteas will then travel to Melbourne to play against England (4 September 2016) and Australia (27 August 2016) before returning home to South Africa.
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BIG BOOST FOR SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS HOPEFULS

Stellenbosch, Cape Town; To fall in line with the aims and objectives of Tennis South Africa (TSA) to give local junior talent international exposure, TSA confirmed on Tuesday that Stellenbosch would once again host a back to back series of international tennis tournaments.
The Digicall Futures which was launched last year will be staged again this year at the Maties Tennis Club in the Coetzenburg Sports Grounds of the University of Stellenbosch from 29 October to 20 November 2016. The men’s and women’s series will consist of three tournaments namely the Digicall Futures 1, Digicall Futures 2 and Digicall Futures 3. Each tournament would have a 32 men’s and women’s singles draw and a 16 team men’s and women’s doubles draw. There will be a sign up qualification tournament ahead of each of the three Futures.
In a boost for South African Tennis, TSA confirmed that the wild cards for each of the abovementioned tournament would be awarded through the Curro Wild Card Initiative.
The organisers of the Digicall Futures have decided to allocate 50% of the available wild cards to local junior talent in order to encourage and reward local participation and support for TSA events. In doing so South African players are able to gain access to the main draw of local International events.
The wild cards will therefore be offered to the following players:
• Wild Card to SA Junior National u18 winners played in Bloemfontein in April (boy and girl) into 2 weeks of their choice.
• Wild Card to best SA performing player at the Curro Junior ITF Grade 3 week, to be played in September (boy and girl) into 2 weeks of their choice
• Wild Card to Junior Masters u18 winner (boy and girl), to be played in October, into 2 weeks of their choice
Remaining wild cards will be awarded by the tournament committee on a case by case situation as wild cards do remain the prerogative of the tournament committee.
Carl Roothman of the Organising Committee said “Our idea as organising committee is to reward the top junior players in South Africa with direct access to the Futures in a more structured way and a goal for the top juniors to work towards. It will also give more prominence to the u18 National and Masters titles.”
Tournament Director, Le Roux Conradie of Caylix Sports said “We are truly excited and honoured to have the Digicall Futures Series back at the Maties Tennis Club in Stellenbosch for the 2nd year running and trust that it will give an excellent opportunity for our players and provide an unforgettable experience to each and every player attending. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for their continuous support and commitment to help with the development and growth of tennis in our country and what better place than Stellenbosch to visit during November.”
Other than the title sponsor Digicall, it was confirmed that Curro Holdings, Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, Stellenbosch University, Chill beverages (Score Energy) and Agua e Vida Water would be associate and supplier sponsors of the series.

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HEARTBREAK FOR HOLTZHAUSEN, JOY FOR LOMBARD

Pretoria, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) confirmed on Tuesday that SPAR Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen will miss the Quad series against Australia, New Zealand and England later this month.

Lindie Lombard has been named by Netball South Africa as the replacement for the injured Captain Maryka Holtzhausen for Quad series against Australia, New Zealand and England from the 27th August this month to the 4th September 2016 held in both New-Zealand and Australia.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Holtzhausen tore a ligament in her right knee (ACL) playing for Free State in the SPAR national netball championships in Durban last week. She will undergo surgery on Wednesday and will require up to eight months rehabilitation.
NSA Director of Selectors Christine du Preez said Gauteng goal attack Lindie Lombard would replace Holtzhausen.
“My heart bleeds for Maryka,” said Du Preez. “She was coming into her prime and playing the best netball of her life.
“She will be missed as a player and as a leader. We expect her to be back in time for the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League next year.”
Lombard was part of the team that played in the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year. She made her Test debut in 2012. Ironically, her international career was disrupted by torn knee ligaments in 2012 and 2014.
“I really feel for Maryka, ” said Lombard.
“I have had the same injury to both knees, so I know what she is going through. “But I am thrilled to be back in the SPAR Proteas team, and I am looking forward to going to New Zealand and Australia and training under Norma Plummer again.
“It will also be very good to be playing internationally with Lenize Potgieter. We played together last week and our combination as goal shooter and goal attack really worked well.”
Meanwhile, North West goalshooter Sigrid Burger has been given until Wednesday to be declared fit for the tour, after an ankle injury that kept her out of the national championships. Another Gauteng player, 20-year-old Ina-Marie Venter, is on standby to take her place if Burger is unable to travel.
The team leaves on Saturday. Their first match will be against Australia in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday August 27.
SPAR Proteas team for Quad Series: Erin Burger (Western Cape), Lauren-Lee Christians (Free State), Rochelle Lawson (Western Cape), Lindie Lombard (Gauteng), Izette Lubbe (Gauteng), Phumza Maweni (Western Cape), Karla Mostert (Free State), Bongiwe Msomi (KwaZulu Natal), Precious Mthembu (KwaZulu Natal), Lenize Potgieter (Gauteng), Renske Stoltz (North West), Jeanie Steyn (Gauteng), Zanele Vimbela (Eastern Cape )
Coach: Norma Plummer, Dorette Badenhorst

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ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - The organizers of the SPAR national senior and Under-21 netball championships can breathe easily once again, with all systems go for the tournament which starts on Monday.

Mami Diale director of Demarcations, Monique Roberts the U21 Captain,Edelweiss Calitz U21 caoch,Julene Meyer coach,Nadia Uys Captain and Mimi Mthethwa president of Netball South Africa.

Coaches and Captains of the defending champions of the SPAR National Championships 2015 the North West Province and President, CEO and Director of Demarcations of Netball South Africa- at the media press conference held at the Marine Parade Hotel in Durban on Sunday.

Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


The floods in Durban last month caused some anxious moment after the courts at Hoy Park were flooded, but by last Thursday, everything was back to normal.
“We had a Plan B, but fortunately we didn’t need to use it,” Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said on Sunday afternoon.
“We waited until Thursday for a final inspection, and found that everything was in order,” she said.
“So the Championships can start as planned, at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.”
For the second year in succession, the championships will be played on a provincial basis, with the players representing their provinces rather than districts, as was formerly the case. Twenty-two teams will take part in the senior tournament and 17 in the Under-21 championships, with A and B sections in each.
“We brought in this format in an effort to raise the standard of play,” said tournament director, Mami Diale.
“We are going to try this format for three years to see how it works, but so far we are very pleased with the new format. We believe there has definitely been an improvement in the standard of play.“
NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said NSA was trying to promote transformation among the teams, but was operating on a target basis rather than introducing a quota system.
“We will look at the demographics in each province and our aim is to ensure that by 2018, the teams reflect the demography of their province. But the bottom line is that we want the provinces to send their best players to the championships. We are focussing on development rather than quotas,” she said.
North West Province had a clean sweep at the championships last year, winning the A and B sections in both the senior and Under-21 tournaments, but North West coach Julene Meyer is aware that it will not be easy to repeat this success.
“When you are the defending champions, you are the benchmark for all the other teams, who want to bring you down,” said Meyer.
“It won’t be easy, but we have prepared very well and we will play our best in every match.”
North West captain Nadia Uys said they knew there would be no easy games.
“We had a terrible disappointment in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, where we won all our matches, only to fall in the semifinal, and we don’t want a repeat of that. There are several very strong teams, like Gauteng, Free State and Western Province, and we know no game will be easy.
“There will be no arrogance from our side, but we will go hard at every game,” she said.

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TOP TEAMS OFF TO A GOOD START IN NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - Defending champions North West got off to a winning start on the opening day of the SPAR national netball championships at the Hoy Park Sports Centre on Monday, beating Gauteng Two by 51 goals to 17.

Kenilwe Kgasi of North West Province and an opposing player at Hoy Park Sports Complex today in Durban on the first day of the SPAR National Championships 2016.

Gauteng Province vs Western Cape Province players on court at the Hoy Park Sports Complex today in Durban on the first day of the SPAR National Championships 2016.

Nadia Uys of North West Province and Jody Brown of the Gauteng Province on court at the Hoy Park Sports Complex in Durban on the first day of the SPAR National Championships 2016.

Photo credit : Reg Caldecott


The opening day’s matches were played in windy conditions, which made goal scoring difficult for all the teams. North West coach Julene Meyer said the gusty conditions meant that her team could not make use of their specialist long distance shooters, as the ball swirled away from the net, but she was happy with the start of their campaign.
“I was happy to be able to give everyone a run on court and to get a win. From tomorrow we can build on that, and hopefully the weather will improve. The wind has a big impact on game plans,” said Meyer.
“But we were able to try out different combinations. From now on, we will be playing two or three games a day, so I need to make sure that everyone has game time.”
Gauteng Two coach Jenni-Lee Delport said her team had mixed fortunes on the opening day, beating Mpumalanga 47-24, but going down heavily to Western Cape and North West.
“Western Cape are a tough team – they are tournament contenders,” she said.
“We struggled against them. We started well in our match against North West, but then the players started making silly mistakes. But we will get better as the tournament goes on,” said Delport.
Western Cape had three matches on the opening day, beating KwaZulu Natal One 63-18, Gauteng Two 68-15 and thrashing KwaZulu Natal Two 94-10.
Gauteng One had an easy start to the tournament, with a comprehensive 88-21 victory over Northern Cape. Free State also got off to a good start, beating Eastern Cape 52-21 and Northern Cape 75-19. Eastern Cape bounced back from their loss to Free State with a 56-37 win over Limpopo, who beat KwaZulu Natal Two 57-40 in their earlier match.
KwaZulu Natal One also had a mixed day, recovering from their loss to Western Cape by beating Mpumalanga 49-22.


FLOODS DISRUPT PREPARATIONS FOR SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - Floods in Durban have disrupted preparations for the SPAR national netball championships, which get under way on Monday August 8.
“We were to have played at Hoy Park Netball Centre, but the courts were flooded during the recent heavy rains,” said Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.
“We will be inspecting the courts on Monday, to see if we will be able to play there. We have made contingency plans to find another venue if there has been too much damage at Hoy Park,” she said.
De la Guerre said the championships could not be moved from Durban, because the teams had already booked their transport and accommodation.
The 2016 national championships will follow the same format as last year, when teams represented provinces rather than regions.

“This is a major event on the national netball calendar appropriately played in women’s month and our official opening ceremony will take place on national women’s day. It’s the largest inter provincial championships of any sporting code played at one time with over 800 players representing 39 regions participating” said De la Guerre.
The tournament will have a under 21 section and senior section.
All members of the SPAR national team which will be travelling to New Zealand for the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England, will be playing at the national championships.
“We won’t have a training camp in South Africa before they game, and playing in the national championships will give them much needed game time,” said De la Guerre.

De la Guerre also confirmed that the victorious under 21 SPAR Baby Proteas who this past weekend were unbeaten in the African Qualifiers for next year’s World Youth World Cup would also all be playing in the national championships.
North West coach Dorette Badenhorst will be aiming to repeat her success of a year ago, when North West made a clean sweep of all the titles on offer at the championships in Ugu, near Margate. The senior and under 21 teams was unbeaten throughout the tournament.

Badenhorst has made a habit of winning recently – she returned last month from the World University championships in Miami, where the South African team won gold, after beating Jamaica 43-39 in the final. She followed that by coaching the South African Under-21 team to first place in the Youth World Cup qualifiers in Botswana.
But Badenhorst may not have it all her own way this year. The presence of the SPAR Proteas, who missed the championships last year because they had just returned from the Netball World Cup in Sydney means teams like Gauteng, Free State and Western Province will be back to full strength.

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PROTEAS CLINCH NETBALL SERIES AGAINST WALES

Durban, South Africa - South Africa clinched the SPAR Challenge international netball series by beating Wales 64-45 in the second Test at the Durban International Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Maryka Holtzhausen also sealing the ball from Welsh player Steph Perry at the ICC on the 18th June 2016, SPAR Netball series Saturday.
Picture credit: Regg Caldecott


The SPAR Proteas won the first Test 63-43 on Friday. The final Test will be played on Sunday.
The Proteas got off to a much better start than in the first Test. Coach Norma Plummer made some changes to the starting seven, bringing Rochelle Lawson and Izette Lubbe on in place of Precious Mthembu and Bongi Msomi. Both teams appeared to be more relaxed and Wales put up a good fight, particularly in the third quarter, which South Africa won narrowly by 15 goals to 14.

Plummer rang the changes with the team, giving Lauren-Lee Christians her first outing in the series, at wing attack, and bringing on Zanele Vimbela instead of Karla Mostert at goal defence. In the final quarter, she brought Msomi in at wing attack, and moved Lubbe to centre. Lubbe had an excellent game and was named player of the match.
Plummer said she had taken a few risks with the team.
“I have a squad of 14 players, so there are always two behind the bench. But we are building for the World Cup in 2016 and I want to give all the players a chance,” she said.

“The nerves weren’t there today and we had a better start, but they flattened out a bit at various stages.
“The scoreline doesn’t really matter. What matters is putting into practice what we do in training.”
Wales coach Trish Wilcox said it had been a much better performance from her team.

“They used the structures and systems better than yesterday, and I was very pleased with the third quarter, where we lost by only one goal. Our aim is to have four consistent quarters. We are reducing our losing margin one goal at a time,” she said, smiling.
Wilcox said three Under-21 players had played in the senior team.
“It is fantastic to give them exposure at this level, ahead of the Under-21 World Cup in Botswana next year. I made several changes during the match because I want the players to learn to cope with the pressure.”

In the curtain raiser, the Baby Proteas beat Wales Under-21 by73 goals to 22 . South African coach Jenny van Dyk made a number of changes to the squad that beat Wales 75-25 on Friday. Assistant coach Dumisani Chauke said they had played several Under-20 players, because they would be the ones playing in the World Cup qualifiers.

“The Under-21s will help us to qualify, but it is the youngsters who will be playing next year,” she said.
The final day’s play will start at 12 noon with South Africa and Wales under 21 teams doing battle followed at 14h00 by the third and last Test.
Tickets available at Computicket or at the door.

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COMFORTABLE WIN FOR PROTEAS IN INTERNATIONAL NETBALL CHALLENGE

Durban, South Africa - The SPAR Proteas scored a comfortable 63-43 victory over Wales in the opening match in the three-Test SPAR International Netball Challenge at the Durban International Convention Centre on Friday night.

Precious Mthembu at the ICC in Durban on the 17th June 2016 on the first day of the Series.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas started off slowly, and Wales were first to score. It was three minutes before the Proteas got on the scoreboard, and it took seven minutes before they went into the lead. However, they never looked back after that, and maintained the lead throughout.
Wales, however, put up a good fight, and after trailing 18-9 at the end of the first quarter managed to keep closer to the Proteas for the rest of the match. South Africa won the second quarter by 3 goals, the third by six and the final quarter by just two goals.
Veteran Proteas centre Erin Burger played in her normal position of centre wearing a specially designed face mask after cracking her cheekbone in two places during the Proteas training camp earlier this month. This setback did not appear to affect her play as she did her normal outstanding job of covering the whole court and controlling the game, and was named player of the match.
Proteas coach Norma Plummer said she was reasonably satisfied with the team’s performance.
“Coaches are never satisfied, but you’re never going to achieve perfection,” she said.
“They started slowly, but I think that was because they were very nervous. We have got the first match out of the way now, and I expect a better performance tomorrow and on Sunday.
“Wales did a good job across the transverse line, and I think we played a bit too wide.”
Plummer brought on uncapped players Jeanie Steyn and Renske Stoltz in the final quarter, and said she was very pleased with their performance.
“We were 20 goals ahead at that stage, and that’s an ideal time to bring on players for their first appearance in Proteas kit. I think they did us proud,” said Plummer.
Wales coach Trish Wilcox said there were many positives to be taken out of the match.
“We reduced the margin from 28 last time we played to 20, and that is a step in the right direction, even though it was not as much as we would have liked,” said Wilcox.
“I think we lacked composure, particularly in the circle,
Suzy Drane, the Wales captain, said they were very happy to have turned over the first centre pass.
“But we should have done more with our three goal lead,” she said.
Earlier, the Baby Proteas demolished Wales Under-21 by 75 goals to 25. Outstanding defence by Alicia Puren and the player of the match, goal defence Kgomotso Mamburu, made it difficult for the Welsh players to get the ball into their circle, while the South African shooters, Ina-Mari Venter and Charmaine Baard were both on song. Wales performed best in the final quarter, when they scored eight goals, but the outcome of the match was never in doubt.
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THREE NEW CAPS IN TEAM FOR WALES NETBALL SERIES

Durban, South Africa - There are three new faces in the 14-member SPAR Protea team announced by Netball South Africa for the coming SPAR Challenge international netball series against Wales in Durban later this month.

Vice Captain of the SPAR Proteas Bongiwe Msomi

The Captain of the SPAR Proteas Maryka Holtzhausen

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


North West Flames shooting partnership, the lanky Sigrid Burger and her shorter goal attack, Renske Stoltz, make their first appearance in the national team and the third newcomer is the Gauteng Jaguars goalkeeper, Jeanie Steyn.
Twenty-two year old Stoltz was named player of the tournament after the final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL) last weekend and won much acclaim for her gutsy attitude and her willingness to shoot at goal from anywhere in the circle. She attributed her confidence to having a tall shooting partner, Sigrid Burger, under the goalpost. Burger had the best shooting average in the competition.
“You know she can get to the ball if you miss,” she said.
The pair worked together very well during the NPL, where the Flames were unbeaten until the knock-out stages of the tournament. Steyn was also a stand-out player at the NPL, winning at least one player of the match award.
Free State Crinums goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen will captain the team, with Bongiwe Msomi of the Kingdom Stars as vice captain. Two members of the squad, Jaguars goalshooter Lenize Potgieter and Crinums goal defence Karla Mostert, returned three weeks ago from playing for Bath in the English Super League. Their experience in one of the world’s top netball leagues should be invaluable for the Proteas.
Exciting news for South African netball is that the SPAR Proteas will be coached by Australian Norma Plummer, who coached the Proteas at the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year. Plummer coached Australia when they won World Cup gold in 2007 and 2011, and is regarded as one of the top coaches in world netball.
Fifth-ranked South Africa and eighth-ranked Wales last met at the World Cup last year, when the Proteas won by 60 goals to 38. South Africa have won all 11 matches between the two teams.
Plummer said she was happy with the team that had been selected.
“The top seven, who were at the World Cup last year, know what I expect of them and the new players will follow their lead,” she said.
“I think it is a very versatile team and we can utilise all their strengths.”
“I am particularly excited by young players like Siggie (Sigrid) Burger and Renske Stoltz, who are the basis for future development. They both slotted into the team very well,” said Plummer.
Netball South Africa have also announced a Baby Proteas team to play Wales Under-21 in curtain-raisers to the three Test matches
The matches will be played at the Durban International Convention Centre on Friday June 17, Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19.
Tickets are available at computicket.

SPAR Proteas team: Sigrid Burger, (North West Flames), Erin Burger (Southern Stings), Lauren-Lee Christians (Free State Crinums), Maryka Holtzhausen - Captain (Crinums), Rochelle Lawson (Stings), Izette Lubbe (Gauteng Jaguars), Phumza Maweni (Kingdom Stars), Karla Mostert (Crinums), Bongiwe Msomi – Vice Captain (Stars,), Precious Mthembu (Stars), Lenize Potgieter (Jaguars), Renske Stoltz (Flames), Jeanie Steyn (Jaguars), Zanele Vimbela (Eastern Cape Aloes)
Coach: Norma Plummer, Nicole Cusack, Dorette Badenhorst

SPAR Baby Proteas: Charmaine Baard, Stephanie Brandt, Khamyisa Chawane, Melodine Jacobs, Khomotso Mamburu, Sasha-Lee Petersen, Jo Prins, Alicia Puren, Margarethe Rademan, Jeante Strydom, Ine-Mari Venter, Talja Venter (Captain and Vice-Captain to be announced)
Coach: Jenny van Dyk, Dumisane Chauke
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SPAR PROTEAS TO PLAY TEST SERIES AGAINST WALES

Durban, South Africa - With the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League done and dusted, the cream of South African netball will be in action again in June, when the SPAR Proteas meet Wales in the three-Test SPAR International Challenge at the ICC in Durban.

Lenize Potgieter of South Africa and Rosanna Pretorius of Wales compete for the ball during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


It will be a real feast of netball, as the three Tests will be preceded by matches between the South African and Welsh Under 21 teams.
The Proteas last played Wales in the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year, when South Africa beat Wales by 60 goals to 38. South Africa also beat Wales in the European Championships in Belfast last year.
The Proteas have played Wales 11 times, winning every time. South Africa are currently ranked fifth in the world and Wales are ranked eighth.
The matches will be played on Friday June 17, Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19.
Tickets for the matches cost R20 and are available from Computicket.

Fixtures for SPAR Challenge;
Friday June 17 18h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
20h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales
Saturday June 18 16h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
18h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales
Sunday June 19 12h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
14h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales




WALES TO PLAY SPAR PROTEAS IN NETBALL TEST SERIES

WALES TO PLAY SPAR PROTEAS IN NETBALL TEST SERIES

Pretoria, South Africa

The SPAR Proteas and the South African U/21’s will play Wales in a SPAR Netball test series that is scheduled for June.

The baby SPAR Proteas will use the series as part of their preparations on the road to the Youth World Cup which will be in Botswana.

Netball South Africa CEO Blanche De la Guerre says “Wales are a great opponent and they have just the right sort of competitive culture to make this series very exciting.”

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MIXED FORTUNES FOR WESTERN CAPE AT NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gamalakhe, Margate- It was another day of mixed fortunes for Western Cape A1 at the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Wednesday, but coach Marlene Wagner was not despondent about the results.
Western Cape A1 played three matches, easily beating Limpopo 42-15 in their early match, before going down to high-flying Gauteng, who beat them 30-19.

Lungile Mthembu of Gauteng in action against Western Cape A1 during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championship at Ugu Sports Centre on August 26, 2015 in Margate, South Africa.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


“It’s a work in progress with a young, developing team,” explained Wagner.
“We battled to get possession against Gauteng, and once we got possession, we lost it again. Our shooting was also not as accurate as it could have been and some of these youngsters are not quite ready, mentally, to take on some of these stronger teams.”
“But it is a building process and we are bringing in the youngsters under the new structure, where teams play for provinces rather than regions. Maybe in a year or two or three we will be at the top again,” she said.
Wagner said although players in her team were largely from Stellenbosch and Cape Town, they also came from as far afield as Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, which made training very difficult.
“We were also badly affected when Maties (Stellenbosch University) withdrew most of their players, because they want to save them for the Varsity Cup,” she said.
Wagner said many of the bigger provinces had similar problems, but the new format was in its early stages and improvements would almost certainly be made over the next few years.
In their final match of the day, they squeaked home against Western Province A2 26-25.
North West also played three matches on Wednesday, and maintained their unbeaten record, with victories over KwaZulu-Natal A1, (50-27), Northern Cape (55-16) and Mpumalanga (48-26). Gauteng also continued to do well, beating KwaZulu-Natal A2 62-18 and Western Cape A1, while Free State beat Eastern Cape 47-18 and Limpopo 37-20. Western Cape A2 also had a busy day, beating Mpumalanga 34-29 before losing to KwaZulu-Natal A1 (41-28) and Western Province A1. Eastern Cape beat KwaZulu-Natal A2 48-14, while KwaZulu-Natal A1 beat Northern Cape 37-29.
North West are on top of the log, with 16 points, followed by Free State and Gauteng with 14 each. Western Cape A1 are in fourth position, on 11 points. KwaZulu Natal A2 and Northern Cape have no points so far.


NORTH WEST IMPRESS ON DAY 1 OF THE SPAR NATIONAL NETBAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gamalakhe, Margate- The SPAR National Netball Championships got under way at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Monday.
The championships are being played according to a new format, with teams representing provinces rather than regions, and North West coach Dorette Badenhorst, was pleased with the way her team started, beating KwaZulu-Natal A2 49-13, and Gauteng 36-26.

Lentsa Motau of North West in action against Gauteng during day 1 of the SPAR National Netball Championship at Ugu Sports Centre on August 24, 2015 in Margate, South Africa.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“We had a good first day, and I was able to try out a lot of combinations,” she said.
“I’ve got a few players coming back from injury, and it’s important that we don’t push them too hard. It was Sigi Burger’s first day back from injury, and I think she went well. But Fifi (Kefiloe Tsotsetsi) also played well as goalshooter, and it’s lovely that we have players that we can use in different combinations.”

Badenhorst said she liked the new format, although she thought it might work better for some provinces than for others.
“It’s great having the provinces here, but it’s a big change for some of them. Some are much bigger than others, and they can draw players from a lot of clubs, but others might suffer because of the new format. It’s a great opportunity for players to experience playing in the A-section. I’ve got two players who normally play in the B-section, and they did very well today,” said Badenhorst.

She said some of the provinces would find it difficult to train as a team, because of the vast distances they had to travel.
“For instance, the Eastern Cape, it’s a long way between East London and Port Elizabeth, whereas for us, it’s not such a big distance. So the training is definitely a problem for some of the provinces, but I think we can work on this format.”

In other matches played on day one of the tournament, Free State beat KwaZulu-Natal A1 35-22 and Free State beat Northern Cape 44-11, Western Cape A1 beat Northern Cape 32-9, Gauteng beat Western Cape A2 45-12, and Eastern Cape beat Limpopo 36-26.


SOUTH AFRICA STILL TOP IN AFRICA

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas held their nerve to beat Malawi 48-46 in a hard-fought match in which the lead changed hands at regular intervals, in their fifth place playoff at the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Sunday.

The triumphant SPAR Protea team after the 5th and 6th place play-off match between South Africa and Malawi on day 10 of the Netball World Cup 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott


The victory means South Africa retain their fifth place ranking in world netball, and are once again officially the top team in Africa.

The Proteas came out hard from the start, and at one stage, five successive unanswered goals gave them a lead of 8-4, but Malawi clawed their way back with their own series of goals spearheaded by star goal shooter Mwayi Kumwenda. They drew level at 8-all, and then when into the lead, winning the first quarter12-11.
In the second quarter, the teams once again exchanged goals, with first one team and then the other surging ahead, but in the middle five minutes, goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen and goalshooter Lenize Potgieter scored five quick goals to put South Africa into the lead again. They kept this slender lead until the end of the second half, with South Africa 23-21 ahead, with Holtzhausen scoring on the stroke of halftime.

Malawi won the third quarter by three goals, to edge ahead 36-35. Two goals from Potgieter at the start of the final quarter had the Proteas level with the Malawi Queens once again, and it became a case of which team was able to hold its nerve. Once again, a flurry of goals put South Africa back in the lead on 43-40 after eight minutes, and the Proteas retained their slender lead for the rest of the match.

Erin Burger and Karla Mostert were once again outstanding, while Potgieter looked like a veteran rather than a 21-year-old. Holtzhausen had a good game, and scored a number of her goals from the edge of the circle.

“I am glad that’s over,” said a smiling coach, Norma Plummer.
“I’m delighted for the team, and for South Africa, that they have come out African winners.”

She said she had taken over as coach at short notice, and had only about three weeks working with the team before the start of the World Cup, so she was very pleased with the improvement they had shown over the tournament and appreciated the way they had shown such “hunger” for her coaching advise and the way they implemented it throughout.
Holtzhausen said they had started the game well, but had let Malawi back into the match, and had to work hard throughout to win it.

“I think the difference between this match and the opening match, when we lost, is that we have improved throughout the tournament. In that opening match, it was a first World Cup for several of the girls, and I think the nerves got the better of us,” she said.

“But this time we worked according to our game plan, and things worked out for us.”
She said Plummer’s influence on the team had been immense.

“If she could do so much to improve us in a few weeks, imagine if we had her for four years,” she said.
“I think we could go right to the top.”

Deputy Minister of Sport, Gert Oosthuizen paid tribute to Plummer and the team and made a special trip to the locker room following the game to show his appreciation and support. “Each one of the SPAR Protea outfit can be proud of not only what they have achieved for themselves but for South Africa as a whole.”


SOUTH AFRICA TO MEET MALAWI IN FIFTH PLACE PLAYOFF

Sydney, Australia- After a tough and very physical match, the SPAR Proteas qualified for the fifth place play off at the Netball World Cup in Sydney by beating Uganda 50-40 on Saturday.

Phumza Maweni of the SPAR Proteas defends against Peace Proscovia of Uganda on the 9th day of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas shrugged off their loss at the hands of England on Friday and came out hard at Uganda from the start. The She-Cranes have been improving throughout the tournament and made life difficult for the Proteas. At one stage, they scored several unanswered goals and went into the lead, but South Africa came back strongly and at the end of the quarter, were ahead by 13 goals to 11.
The second half followed much the same pattern, with both sides achieving turnovers and intercepts. Wing defence Bongi Msomi, who had an off-night against England, was back to her normal standard of play, and darted around the court like a gazelle, while Erin Burger frequently appeared to pluck the ball out of nowhere. South Africa once again won the quarter by two goals, to take a 24-20 lead at halftime.
Coach Norma Plummer replaced Msomi with the more physically robust Izette Lubbe after halftime. South Africa pulled away from Uganda, and at one stage, had a nine-goal advantage, before the She-Cranes scored give unanswered goals in quick succession to reduce the margin to four goals. At the end of the quarter, which the Proteas won by 13 goals to 12, South Africa were ahead by 37 goals to 32.
In the final quarter, Precious Mthembu replaced Rochelle Lawson at wing attack, and South Africa were able to withstand repeated surges and turnovers by Uganda, winning the quarter by five goals.
Goalshooter Lenise Potgieter had an outstanding game, succeeding with 36 goals from 38 attempts, including several that had the crowd gasping in admiration.
“I had some nervous moments,” Plummer admitted after the match.
“They have improved throughout the tournament and we knew it was going to be a tough match. Uganda have a height disadvantage, but they make up for it with their physicality. They interrupt the flow of play, and that makes life difficult,” she said.
“We were a bit slow, and we need to speed it up.”
“We’ll have to go back and cut it up and look at how we should deal with it, because it will be more of the same against Malawi tomorrow. Malawi have played extremely well at this tournament, and they are going to be very hard to beat.”
South Africa play Malawi at 11 o’clock, local time. Malawi beat Wales 71-52. In 2011, the two African teams played each other for the same position, with South Africa emerging the winners.
“We can do it,” said captain Maryka Holtzhausen.
“We want to defend our number five ranking and we also want to leave here as African champions.”


WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Sydney, Australia- Deputy Sports and Recreation Minister Gert Oosthuizen flew into Sydney on Thursday with a message of support from the government for the SPAR Proteas ahead of their crucial Netball World Cup match against England on Friday.

Bongiwe Msomi, vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas thanks Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation) during a visit to the team at the Sydney Olympic Park prior to their match against England in the Netball World Cup on 13 August 2015.

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott


South Africa have to beat England to qualify for the semifinals.
Speaking to the players at their hotel in Olympic Park, Oosthuizen said the country was behind them, particularly in Women’s Month.
“Social media is full of talk about the Netball World Cup and how our team is doing.
“I received a Tweet on Tuesday saying it would be nice if the Minister or Deputy Minister or the President arrived to support the team before their match against England. I’m answering that Tweet from Down Under,” he laughed.
“Netball is very important to us in the Department,” he said.
“The Minister pioneered the Brutal Fruit tournament and he is totally committed to the sport.”
Oosthuizen said he had travelled the world with the team, from the Cook Islands to Singapore, and various places in between, and he was impressed by the improvement in their standard of play.
“I am confident that we can win tomorrow.
“England is number three, we are number five, but to me that is just numerical,” he said.
He thanked Australian coach Norma Plummer for agreeing to coach the Proteas.
“You have made an important contribution to the sport,” he said.
“Your impact is evident in the way they have been playing.”
Earlier, the Proteas spent the day exploring Sydney, visiting the Opera House and Circular Quay, and travelling by ferry to the beautiful Manly Beach as they took a break from the tournament.


LAST CHANCE FOR WORLD CUP SEMIFINALS

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas have one last chance to qualify for the semifinals of the Netball World Cup in Sydney when they meet England in their final qualifying match on Friday afternoon.
South Africa have played two qualifying matches so far, beating Wales on Tuesday and losing to Australia on Wednesday. The Australian Diamonds booked their semifinal berth with victory over England and South Africa.
The Proteas froze at the start of their match against Australia, allowing the Diamonds to score 11 goals before they were able to get on the scoreboard, but they are expected to get off to a better start against the world number three team.
Coach Norma Plummer said preparations for the crucial match would be the same as for any other match.
“I will tell them they have nothing to lose, and just to focus on their own game,” she said.
“What happened against Australia was they were overwhelmed by the realisation that they were playing the world number one team, and they froze. They will be able to look at the videos of the match and see what they did right and what they did wrong. You learn more from defeats than from wins, and I don’t think they will make the same mistakes again.
“If we didn’t learn anything from the match against Australia, that would be sad. But we’ll cut it up and let them have a look at things and get them to smarten up.
“When you’re under pressure, especially when you haven’t been there before, it’s a bit hard. We’ve got a few players who are playing their first World Championship and probably the first time against Australia, so it is understandable. But I don’t think they will freeze again,” said Plummer.
“We have learned a lot from losing to Australia,” said captain Maryka Holtzhausen.
“One of the things were learned was that we can’t afford to play the overhead ball, because we lose it too often, so we will focus on short, sharp passes.
“We will try to focus on our game plan right from the start when we play against England, and will not fall back into our old ways.”
If they start the match against England as they ended against Australia, South Africa are in with a fighting chance of qualifying for the semifinals for the first time since 1995.
In the first half of their match against Australia, the Proteas battled to maintain possession, as the Diamonds easily intercepted their long, looping passes. By halftime, Australia were 26 goals ahead, but in the second half, South Africa reduced the margin to 10 goals, and in the final quarter, achieved more intercepts and turnovers than the Diamonds. In the final quarter, they held Australia to just 12 goals, scoring 10 of their own.
If they beat England, they go through to the semifinals.


AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS DOMINATE NERVOUS SPAR PROTEAS 66-31.

Sydney, Australia- Nerves got the better of the SPAR Proteas on Wednesday night as the Australian Diamonds dominated them 66-31 in their qualifying match at the Netball World Cup in Sydney.

Lenize Potgieter of the SPAR Proteas in action during the match between South Africa and Australia on day 6 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Bongiwe Msomi of the SPAR Proteas in action during the match between South Africa and Australia on day 6 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


The Diamonds, who have won all 32 encounters between the teams, came out hard from the start, and were 11 goals up before the Proteas scored their first goal. The South Africans looked jittery and reverted3 to their old ways, with long, looping passes which the Diamonds intercepted with ease. At the end of the first quarter, Australia were 23-5 ahead.
Coach Norma Plummer made a few changes and the Proteas looked more settled in the second quarter, but the Diamonds continued to overwhelm them. The turnovers the South African defenders achieved were lost on their way into the Proteas’ circle, and the Diamonds had a 38-12 lead at halftime.
Plummer obviously had stern words with the team, because they were much better in the second half, going back to the short, sharp passes Plummer has been calling for. Australia won the quarter by 16 goals to nine. In the final quarter, the Proteas had more intercepts and turnovers than the Australians, and lost the quarter by only two goals (12-10).
“It was a bit disappointing, especially in the first half. A couple of the players just let the ball go into no man’s land. They weren’t even processing,” said Plummer.
“But that’s nerves. That’s being worried about playing the opposition, the number one team, and I thought that as we got further into the game, they played a little better.
She said her message to the players before the match had been that they had nothing to lose, so they could relax and take it up to them.
“You learn more from your defeats than from your wins,” she said.
However, Plummer said it was essential for some of the Proteas to play in the ANZ league, which is the best competition in the world, if they were to improve.
Captain Maryka Holtzhausen conceded that the players had lost focus in the early stages of the match.
“At halftime we decided that we just had to focus on playing the ball and play our own game and it worked better the moment we started getting the ball into the spaces,” she said.
“I think the biggest thing we’ll take out of this match is how much we still need to improve. I think there were some great passages of play, but sometimes our ball placement and giving the ball to the wrong person let us down. We saw in the first half that we can’t play the overhead ball, because it went out of court numerous times. We need to start playing the short ball into the circle.”
South Africa have the day off on Thursday before meeting England on Friday afternoon. They have to beat England to qualify for the semifinals.


CONFIDENCE BOOSTER FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas had a good confidence-boosting victory over Wales in their first match in the second round of the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Tuesday, beating the Welsh team by 60 goals to 38.

Bongiwe Msomi of South Africa in action during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Erin Burger of South Africa and Kyra Jones compete for the ball during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


Wales had sailed through the opening round, winning all three of their matches, but South Africa proved too much for them, as they were never really in contention. Goalkeeper Lenize Potgieter was on song, particularly in the first quarter, when she succeeded with every attempt at goal. At the end of the first quarter, the Proteas were 15-10 ahead. By halftime, South Africa had stretched their lead to the critical margin of 10 goals, with the score on 31-21.
Coach Norma Plummer appeared to have had stern words with the players during the break, because they stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring Wales by 24 goals to eight. It was probably their best quarter of the tournament so far, with South Africa achieving five intercepts and five turnovers. Once again, coach Norma Plummer rang the changes, bringing on fresh legs and making sure that most of her players got precious time on court ahead of matches against Australia and England.
The final quarter was more subdued, as Wales battled hard to make up the deficit. It was the closest quarter, with South Africa scoring just two more goals than Wales.
Plummer seemed relatively pleased with the team’s performance.
“I thought they were a bit lethargic at the beginning. I told them after their warm-up that they were too relaxed, and they had to step up, because we are now at the business end of the carnival,” she said.
“I was a bit disappointed in the first half, when they were a little flat, but I made some changes at halftime, and brought some new life into their movement.”
Wing attack Bongi Msomi said the match had been a confidence booster.
“It was about sticking to the game plan, and implement the strategies that have been worked out,” she said.
“We were able to do that today. We expected them to come hard at us, especially after the game they played yesterday (when Wales narrowly beat Uganda 49-47 in their final preliminary round match). I think they were confident, but we put the tactics we’ve worked on into practice. We needed this win before we play Australia.”
South Africa play defending champions Australia on Wednesday and world number three England on Friday. The Proteas need to win one of these matches to qualify for the semifinals.


SPAR PROTEAS TAKE ON THE BEST

Sydney, Australia- South Africa take on their toughest opponents yet in the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Wednesday, when they meet defending champions in their second qualifying round match.
The SPAR Proteas know they have a tough task ahead, but they are all excited about playing the world number one team. Australia lost their preliminary round match to New Zealand on Sunday, going down 52-47.
Captain Maryke Holtzhausen said this gave South Africa confidence going into the match.
“We now know they are human and they can be beaten,” she said.
“We also know that it is going to be a very tough match, but we are looking forward to putting into practice what we have learned from our coach.”
The Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, was the Australian Diamonds’ coach when they won the previous World Cup in Singapore in 2011.
“Norma knows them well, and that could help us,” said Holtzhausen.
Plummer said she was not making any promises or predictions, but she said it was important for the Proteas to test themselves against the best.
“This is the business end of the tournament, and the girls know they have to step up a gear. We have some outstanding players – (goalshooter) Lenize Potgieter is fantastic, particularly considering she is only 21, and players like Erin Burger and Bongi Msomi are outstanding.”
She said it was important for South Africa to play against the best.
“It’s about them learning by playing against that quality, and it’s a quality they don’t come up against every day. Win or lose, they will learn a lot.”
“We definitely want a good contest and show the world that the Proteas can compete with the best,” said defender Adele Niemand.
“Australia are on their home ground and they’re the number one in the world, but we just need to apply what we’ve learned.”
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” said Msomi.
“We’re going to go hard and do our best against them and see if we can pull it through,” she said.
The match will be played at 8.20 in the evening, and organisers expect the 30-thousand seat Allphones Stadium to be sold out, so the Proteas will be playing in front of one of the biggest crowds they have ever experienced.
South Africa have to beat Australia on Wednesday or England on Friday to qualify for the semifinals on Sunday.


GOOD WIN FOR SPAR PROTEAS AHEAD OF QUALIFICATION ROUND.

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas crushed Sri Lanka 89-17 in their final first round match at the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Monday. They finished second in Pool C, behind Malawi.

Erin Burger of SPAR Proteas (L) and Deepika Abeykoon compete for the ball during the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on day 4 of Netball World Cup 2015 at Allphones Arena on August 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Adele Niemand of SPAR Proteas and Thishala Algama compete for the ball during the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on day 4 of Netball World Cup 2015 at Allphones Arena on August 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Picture Credits: Reg Caldecott


Coach Norma Plummer used the opportunity of playing one of the weaker teams to ensure that all 12 players had time on court, with Lindie Lombard making her first appearance in the tournament, playing at goal attack.
It was five minutes before Sri Lanka were able to score, and by the end of the first quarter, South Africa were leading 25-7. In the second quarter, Sri Lanka were able to stem the flow of goals to a certain extent, but they scored only five goals to 16 for the Proteas. At halftime, South Africa had an unassailable 41-12 lead. Things just got worse for the islanders as the match continued – they scored four goals in the third quarter, and just one in in the last, while South Africa scored 24 in each.
Elsje du Plessis achieved 100 per cent accuracy, with 11 goals from 11 attempts, while Lenize Potgieter had a nearly clean sheet, with 43 goals from 46.
Plummer said although the outcome had been expected, she was pleased with the way the team had executed their game plans.
“I wanted to play them all, and to try out various combinations in a match like this, before we get to the business end of the competition,” she said.
She said she would obviously have preferred to play Sri Lanka or Singapore before Malawi, to give her players some confidence ahead of their most difficult first round match.
“Malawi have been together for several years, and we have a number of new players in the team. But you have to play with the cards you are dealt, and do the best you can.
“The players will go into the next round with renewed energy,” she said.
“I think it was a great game, and it’s always nice to get all 12 players on the court,” said captain Maryke Holtzhausen.
“Our biggest challenge was not to get into a set pattern, because we always tend to go back to the long ball, but we executed our game plan of short sharp passes into the circle quite well.”
South Africa will come up against the Australian Diamonds in one of their second round matches. New Zealand beat the defending champions 52-47 in their round robin match on Sunday and Holtzhausen said this was good news for others in the competition.
“We can see now that are beatable,” she said.
“We just need to stick to our game plans. We very excited about the qualification round, where we will play some of the best teams in the world.”
South Africa will play Australia, England and the winner of the match between Uganda and Wales in the qualification round, which starts on Tuesday.


SPAR PROTEAS BOUNCE BACK WITHWIN

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas bounced back from their loss to Malawi on Friday with a crushing 69-21 victory over Singapore at the Netball World Cup in Olympic Park in Sydney on Saturday.

Lenize Potgieter of SPAR Proteas aims for a Goal against Singapore.

The flexible Precious Mthembu of SPAR Proteas catches the ball in the air.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


The match was played at the Netball Central Arena rather than the much bigger Allphones Arena, and the players appeared to respond well to the more intimate setting.
Coach Norma Plummer gave players who were not involved in the first match a run, with Rochelle Lawson replacing Karla Mostert at goal defence, Elsje du Plessis replacing Maryke Holtzhausen at goal attack, and Izette Lubbe coming in for Erin Burger at centre.
“You can run your top seven and run them into the ground, or you can use your bench in the early stages and then you’ve got fresh legs when it really counts,” she said.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the smart way to go.”
South Africa started slowly, but gathered momentum as the match continued. By the end of the first quarter, they were 15-8 ahead. Lawson and goalkeeper Phumza Maweni did a good job in defence, preventing Singapore from scoring, and making good use of rebounds. Du Plessis appeared nervous at first, and missed a number of shots at goal, but she improved as the game wore on. At halftime, South Africa led 32-13s and it became clear that they had the match well under control.
Singapore scored just six goals in the third quarter, and in the final quarter, when Plummer brought on her first choice players, the Proteas closed Singapore down completely, and they were only able to net two goals. South Africa showed remarkable consistency in scoring, with 18 goals each in the last three quarters.
Plummer experimented with positional changes, putting Mostert into wing defence instead of her normal goal defence, and then later playing Lawson at wing defence.
“I always think the two positions are part of the same thing,” said Lawson.
“I was happy to play there and let the coach see what I could do.”
Lawson, was one of several players making her World Cup debut in the match, said she was thrilled to have had some time on court.
“This is what you dream about, playing in a World Cup,” she said.
“I’m so happy that I got my chance.”
Plummer said she was happy with the team’s performance.
“We worked on some things this morning, and they put them into practice tonight,” she said.
The two coaches, Plummer and Singapore’s Ruth Aitken, are old rivals – their last World Cup encounter was the final of the 2011 championships in Singapore, with Plummer coaching Australia and Aitken New Zealand. Australia beat New Zealand in the final.
South Africa’s final round robin match is on Monday, when they take on Sri Lanka.


SPRINGBOK CAPTAIN WISHES PROTEAS LUCK FOR NETBALL WORLD CUP

Sydney, Australia- The SPAR Proteas received a special message before the start of their Netball World Cup campaign in Sydney on Friday.
“Although we play different sports, we share the same pride in representing our country,” said Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, in a message recorded at the Springbok camp in Durban.
“We wish you every success at the World Cup, and we know you are going to do South Africa proud,” he said.
“Do your best, and be great ambassadors for our country. Above all, have fun and enjoy the experience.”
“It was so cool to get the message,” said World Cup debutant, goal defence Karla Mostert.
“He is such a great, humble guy. We were surprised but thrilled to get the message.”
Unfortunately, the message from the Springbok captain was not enough to inspire the Proteas to victory – they lost their opening match to Malawi by 58 goals to 51.
But like every South African team “a loss will only inspire you to work harder and fight for victory” said SPAR Proteas Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen. “We may have lost to Malawi but we will fight harder in our next games to make South Africa proud.
The message from Jean was played to us ahead of the World Cup and it was so welcome and appreciated” added Holtzhausen.


PROTEAS CONFIDENT AHEAD OF OPENING WORLD CUP MATCH

Sydney, Australia- “I can’t wait to get this tournament under way,” said SPAR Proteas Netball coach Norma Plummer on the eve of the opening of the Netball World Cup in Sydney on Thursday.

Left: Bongiwe Msomi (SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain), Middle: Norma Plummer (SPAR Proteas Coach) and Right: Maryka Holtzhausen (SPAR Proteas Captain)







Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas get their World Cup campaign under way on Friday afternoon with a match against their eternal rivals, Malawi.
Plummer, who was appointed to coach South Africa during the Diamond Challenge in Margate in June, said she would obviously have liked to have had four years with the Proteas, instead of barely three weeks, but she believed she could make a difference in the short time available to her.
“They are very intelligent players, and they are picking things up well. We have been focussing on skills and court strategies. Generally, we have been working on balance on the court, and on realising there is always more than one option. It is also about space awareness and court and on realising the ball has to be passed well and with purpose,” said Plummer.
“We played two Tests against New Zealand, and although the Silver Ferns won both Tests, we were able to reduce their margin of victory. I was happy to play the second ranked team in the world, because I wanted to put the players under pressure and raise the intensity. It is more valuable to play and lose against a team like New Zealand than to beat a weaker team,” she said.
South Africa beat Malawi convincingly in their two encounters in the Diamond Challenge, but Plummer said she knew Malawi would come back hard against the Proteas in their opening match.
“They have made peace with some of the players who withdrew from the team, and it will be a tougher team to beat. Malawi will want to go up another gear tomorrow.
“But we’ve had time together, and we can go out feeling confident,” said Plummer.
Proteas captain Maryke Holtzhausen said the team was excited about starting their World Cup campaign.
“We know Malawi is going to come at us very hard, and that it will be a very physical match, but we are ready for them,” she said.
“We have taken a lot of positives from our Tests against New Zealand, and we have learnt a lot from coach Norma, whose passion for netball and for success is there for everyone to see.”


SPAR PROTEAS IMPRESS AGAINST SILVER FERNS

• New Zealand have to fight hard to beat brave South Africa
Hamilton, New Zealand- The SPAR Netball Proteas may have lost against the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Sunday but they certainly impressed the Netball world with their performance.

SPAR Proteas goal defense Karla Mostert takes the first of four interceptions in the second quarter of their test against new Zealand in Auckland on Sunday. New Zealand beat South Africa 68-44 in the first of two tests. The second test will be played on Tuesday in Auckland.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The world number two ranked Silver Ferns survived a second-quarter stutter to account for South Africa 68-44 in the first of two Tests played at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.
Not since 1999 had South Africa scored so high against New Zealand. Sixteen years ago in a test played in Auckland, New Zealand beat South Africa 65-47 in the lead up to the World Championships played that year in Christchurch.
New Zealand started with the same intensity that featured in their 60-goal win over Fiji three days ago. The Silver Ferns blasted out to an early 8-1 lead, helped by two early turnovers but couldn’t maintain the pressure and allowed the world No.6 Proteas to graft their way back.
Goal shoot Lenize Potgieter shouldered the attacking burden, sinking all nine of her attempts on goal as her midcourt worked overtime to break New Zealand’s tight defensive zone.
The Silver Ferns converted 16 of 21 attempts to give the Ferns a 16-9 lead at the first break.
But the wheels fell off in the second quarter. New Zealand’s midcourt struggled to create space, and their flow into the attacking third lacked rhythm and timing. The home team failed to find the circle edge, and their feed into Goal Shooter Bailey Mes and Goal Attack Jodi Brown grew fractured and erratic.
South Africa’s circle defenders Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert forced a series of turnovers and suddenly the Proteas had closed New Zealand’s lead to just one midway through the quarter.
A four-goal run right before halftime restored some respectability to the margin, but although New Zealand took a 31-24 lead into the break, honours had been shared 15-15 in the second quarter.
Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu brought about new combinations at the half time break reintroducing Laura Langman to centre to open the attack which took a little time to settle. But by the end of the third quarter New Zealand had re-established midcourt dominance, winning the quarter 21-10 and building up a 52-34 lead.
The Kiwis delivered more of the same in the final 15 minutes and Langman was back to her very best in controlling the midcourt with precision as New Zealand won the spell 16-10 and the match by a comfortable 24 goals.
Taumaunu gave credit to the Proteas on their performance. “South Africa worked really hard tonight to keep the ball away from us. They shot well and quite honestly with us not playing their style of netball for a while we were rattled. Also we didn’t know the players in their defensive circle which took some getting used to.”
A delighted SPAR Proteas coach, Norma Plummer said she was proud of her team’s performance considering. “In the first quarter the girls were so nervous, they were watching the game and not really involved. It was a big moment for them. But in the second quarter they settled and put in an excellent effort. All in all I am really pleased with my girls.”
Plummer singled out the teams “youngster” Izette Lubbe as one of the top performers saying her strength in particular was good. Plummer also gave credit to player of the match, Lenize Potgieter for her accuracy. “Lenize is such a great talent. At only 21 years of age, she adds such value to the team.”
“The goal defense (Karla Mostert) also did a good job and started to read the game well” added Plummer.
It’s only been weeks since Australian multiple World Championship winner has taken over the reigns as coach of the SPAR Proteas. “Although I am pretty pleased with the progress since working with the girls I must say there is a lot of work still to do. It’s been a terrific challenge and the Proteas are a wonderful group of girls. The Proteas need to play at the top level to understand and experience the intensity. The game tonight was really not about the score line it was for the Proteas to gain form the experience of the Silver Ferns which will help them in their World Cup challenge in Sydney next month.”
Plummer said that by the time the team arrived in Sydney she aimed to have the team performing 10 to 15% better.
The second Test is scheduled for Tuesday in Auckland.


SPAR NETBALL PROTEAS WISH SPRINGBOKS THE VERY BEST

Hamilton, New Zealand- On the eve of the SPAR Proteas playing against New Zealand (Silver Ferns) in the first of two test matches, the South African Netball team sent best wishes to the Springboks for their test against the All Blacks in Johannesburg this afternoon.

Speaking from Hamilton, New Zealand, Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen said that her whole team were behind the Springboks. “My team and I send all our best to the Springboks. We wish them a good game against the All Blacks and hope they do themselves and South Africa proud.”
“On Sunday it will be our turn to play New Zealand so we hope the Springboks set the standard for us.”

Unfortunately the Proteas will not be able to watch the rugby due to the time change. The test will be played at 03h00 Sunday morning New Zealand time and with the Proteas playing the Silver Ferns Sunday sleep is important. However the Proteas have arranged for a recording to be made of the rugby and they will watch it after they have played the Silver Ferns.

The SPAR Proteas are in New Zealand for two warm up tests against the world number two ranked Silver Ferns ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney next month. The Hamilton test Sunday will be followed by a second test in Auckland on Tuesday 28 July.

Coach Norma Plummer said that preparations for Sunday’s test were on track. “I am satisfied with the way we have prepared this week. I would dearly loved to have more time with the girls but am pleased with the way the girls have responded over the past few days. The real test will be on court Sunday.”

Both netball tests will be shown live on SuperSport on 26 and 28 July at 09:45 (South African time) on SuperSport 4 and SuperSport Select SA

SPAR Proteas team: Lenize Potgieter, Elsunet du Plessis, Lindie Lombard, Maryka Holtzhausen (captain), Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain), Izette Lubbe, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu, Rochelle Lawson, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Phumza Maweni.


SPAR NETBALL PROTEAS TO TAKE ON SILVER FERNS

Pretoria, South Africa- The SPAR Proteas are to take on one of the world’s best Netball teams in preparation for the World Netball Cup in Sydney, Australia, starting this coming weekend.

The Proteas, who jetted out of Johannesburg, met us with their new coach, Norma Plummer, in New Zealand on Monday, and will play two Tests against the Silver Ferns, who have been a dominant force in world netball for several decades.
The Tests will be played in Hamilton on July 26, and in Auckland on July 28.

SuperSport will be broadcasting the two warm up tests against New Zealand on 26 and 28 July at 09:45 (South African time) on SuperSport 4 and SuperSport Select SA.

Plummer, who coached Australia to victory in the 2011 World Championships in Singapore, took over as Proteas coach last month. She had an immediate impact on the team, who beat perennial rivals Malawi twice in the Diamond Challenge, played at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate.
Plummer said she was excited to be taking charge of the Proteas, who she described as ‘very talented athletes.’ She said the short series against New Zealand was very important for the team.

“They need to have the experience of playing one of the world’s top teams,” she said.
“Regardless of the outcome of the Tests, they will benefit.”

Plummer said the Proteas needed to learn how to get out of tough situations, and to develop Netball intelligence, which was something for which the Silver Ferns were renowned.

Meanwhile Netball South Africa confirmed that Melissa Myburgh has been replaced in the SPAR Protea lineup by reserve Elsunet du Plessis. Myburgh had to withdraw from the team due to injury.

SPAR Proteas team: Lenize Potgieter, Elsunet du Plessis, Lindie Lombard, Maryka Holtzhausen (captain), Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain), Izette Lubbe, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu, Rochelle Lawson, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Phumza Maweni
Non-travelling reserves: Lauren-Lee Christians, Zukelwa Cwaba.


SOUTH AFRICA SEND THE NETBALL PROTEAS OFF TO THE WORLD CUP IN STYLE

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa gave a fitting World Cup sendoff to the SPAR Netball Proteas in Pretoria Saturday evening.

The SPAR Protea Netball team, Back row: Mike Prentice (The SPAR Group Marketing Executive), Dr Sherylle Calder (EyeGym Visual Skills and Performance Specialist), Mimi Mthethwa (NSA President), Molebatsi Bopape (Gauteng Provincial MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation) stand together.

Left: Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain) of the SPAR Proteas shares a good laugh with Mike Prentice (The SPAR Group Marketing Executive), Middle: Mimi Mthethwa (NSA President) and Molebatsi Bopape (Gauteng Provincial MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation) stand together.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


Netball South Africa and the team sponsors SPAR organized a farewell dinner for the team, their families and loved ones at the Southern Sun Pretoria hotel with Gauteng Provincial MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Molebatsi Bopape giving the key note address on behalf of government. Sponsor representatives and members of the media were also in attendance.

MEC Bopape said that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and his Deputy Gert Oosthuizen had asked her to pass on their best to the SPAR Proteas and the MEC also gave the team well wishes from the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura. “The Minister his Deputy and Premier would dearly have loved to be with us all tonight but have Mandela Day duties to fulfill around the country. Actually to me it’s no coincidence that we are celebrating the SPAR Proteas travelling to the World Cup on Mandela Day, it’s a fitting match that a team of such talent should be celebrating netball when we are celebrating an icon that said that sport plays such a role in unifying a nation.”

A special message from the teams newly appointed Australian coach, Norma Plummer who could not attend the dinner was broadcast to the audience from Melbourne. Plummer said that she was honored to have been appointed coach of the SPAR Proteas. “We have a great bunch of athletes in the team and they are hungry to learn and deliver and I would like to thank Netball South Africa for honoring me with the coaching job.”

MEC Bopape said that each one of the SPAR Proteas should be proud of what they achieved. “Each one of you sitting here tonight with your families have achieved so much in making the World Cup team. You are an inspiration to so many thousands of hopeful youth out there, you should embrace that responsibility.”

The SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice confirmed that his company would be paying an incentive to the team should they return to South Africa with a medal. “SPAR will gladly pay a R500 000.00 bonus for any medal won in Sydney by South Africa but if the team bring back silver we will pay R750 000.00 and for gold we will pay R1 million. We wish the SPAR Proteas all the very best, we believe in them and are proud to be associated with netball.”

Both Captain Maryka Holtzhausen and Assistant Captain Bongi Msomi told the audience that they were excited to travel to Sydney and felt well prepared for the World Cup.

Netball South Africa President closed the evening off with a fitting tribute to the SPAR Proteas saying that her Executive had done all they could to give the best preparation to the team and were totally committed to their success and felt that the team spirit was special and the team would do not only themselves but the country proud.

The team jet off from Johannesburg on Sunday evening for New Zealand where they will play two tests against the Silver Ferns (New Zealand). The team would remain in New Zealand with coach Norma Plummer to prepare for the World Cup to be played from the 7-16 August in Sydney.


STRONG TEAM FOR NETBALL WORLD CUP

Netball South Africa (NSA) has announced a strong SPAR Proteas team for the Netball World Cup (NWC) in Sydney in August.
The new head coach, Australian Norma Plummer, selected the squad after trials involving players who had taken part in the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge and in the European Championships in Belfast in May.

Maryka Holtzhausen was named as the captain of the SPAR Proteas Netball World Cup team announced in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. Holtzhausen will captain the 12 player team that will travel to New Zealand for two tests against the Silver Ferns in Hamilton (26 July) and Auckland (29 July) ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia from 7-16 August, 2015.

Bongiwe Msomi was named as the vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas Netball World Cup team announced in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. Msomi will captain the 12 player team that will travel to New Zealand for two tests against the Silver Ferns in Hamilton (26 July) and Auckland (29 July) ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia from 7-16 August, 2015.

Pictures credits: Reg Caldecott


There were no major surprises in the squad. Erin Burger, who was named Player of the Tournament in the world championships in Singapore in 2011, was included, although she is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the recent Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League.
“Erin is on a rehabilitation programme, and we have a deadline for her recovery,” said Plummer.
“If she is not match fit by that date, we will make other plans.”

Plummer, who coached the team to victory in the Diamond Challenge which ended on Friday, said she felt privileged to be given the opportunity to coach such a talented group of athletes.
“I only have three weeks with them before the World Cup, whereas other coaches have had four to five years,” she said.
“So I’m not saying we are going to win the World Cup. I just want to make sure we give the players the knowledge and confidence to take the next step.”
Plummer’s influence was clearly visible during the Diamond Challenge, particularly in the final, when the Proteas stormed back after trailing Malawi at halftime, to win the match by five goals.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa thanked Plummer and the entire Proteas management team, including the medical staff, for restoring the players’ confidence.
“It was so wonderful and gratifying to see the players so full of confidence and belief in what they can achieve on court,” said Mthethwa.
“This also affirmed that the decision the NSA Executive took to involve Ms Plummer could be the best so far.
“We know that she comes in at a very late stage before the NWC but we looked at what could benefit our players and we are sure that their performance at the NWC will show a much improved Proteas team,” she said.

“Our country has the best athletes. We would like them performing at their best to end the tournament with improved results from where they ended in the previous NWC.”
In 2011, South Africa beat their archrivals, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth place.

SPAR Proteas: Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Maryka Holtzhausen (captain), Bongiwe Msomi (vice captain), Izette Lubbe, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu, Rochelle Lawson, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Phumza Maweni
Non-travelling reserves: Elsunet du Plessis, Lauren-Lee Christians, Zukelwa Cwaba.


SPAR PROTEAS THROUGH TO FINALS OF NETBALL DIAMOND CHALLENGE

The SPAR netball Proteas reached the finals of the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate with a decisive 56-39 victory over Uganda on Thursday.

SPAR Protea Karla Mostert and Rachel Nanyonga of Uganda compete for the ball during day 3 of the Kwazulu-Natal Diamond Challenge Netball tournament at UGU Sports Centre on June 18, 2015 in Margate, South Africa. The SPAR Proteas beat Uganda 56-39 to qualify for Friday evenings final vs Malawi.

SPAR Protea wing attack Bongiwe Msomi in action against Uganda during day 3 of the Diamond Challenge netball tournament at UGU Sports Centre on June 18, 2015 in Margate, South Africa. The SPAR Proteas beat Uganda 56-39 to qualify for Friday evenings final vs Malawi.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


The victory meant South Africa went through the round robin stage of the competition without dropping a match. They will meet archrivals Malawi in the final on Friday night.
The Proteas did not have things all their own way. The Ugandan goal attack Rachael Nanyonga had an outstanding game, netting most of her attempts in the circle and the She Cranes never gave up.

Coach Norma Plummer made some changes to the Proteas line-up, with Lindie Lombard starting the match for the first time since a long lay-off because of injury and newcomer Nokubonga Sibiya startingat centre. Pumza Maweni also got her chance to start as goalkeeper, and performed so well she won the player of the match award.
Captain Maryka Holtzhausen sat out the early stages of the match, until the dynamic wing attack Bongi Msomi had to leave the court after being hit in the face in the third quarter.
Uganda started slowly and the Proteas were five goals up before the She Cranes scored their first goal. South Africa were 15-6 ahead after the first quarter. Uganda were outstanding in the second quarter, at one stage scoring five unanswered goals before the Proteas came back hard. The quarter was a tie, with both teams scoring 12 goals and at halftime, the Proteas led 27-18.

Plummer made some changes in the third quarter, bringing Adele Niemand on for Karla Mostert at goal attack, and replacing Sibiya with Izette Lubbe. Midway through the quarter, Msomi fell flat on her back after being elbowed in the left eye. Niemand moved to wing attack and Holtzhausen came on as goal attack. South Africa began to edge away from the Ugandans, outscoring them by 15 goals to 10.
There was joy for Elsunet du Plessis in the final quarter, when goalkeeper Lenize Potgieter sustained a hand injury, and Du Plessis was able to make her first appearance for South Africa.

The very vocal multiracial crowd got behind the Proteas and the noise level rose as the minutes ticked by.
“It was very physical and Uganda kept coming back at us,” said Holtzhausen after the match.
“We just couldn’t get away from them. We let them back in the game, and we certainly can’t do that against Malawi tomorrow.”
She said she was happy with the win, but disappointed that the team had not implemented coach Plummer’s game plans properly.
“Norma likes the short pass, and we tend to use the long pass when things get tough and we have to learn to do things her way.”
She said the team was very excited about working with Plummer.

“She has a different perspective, and she has coached a team that won the World Cup. She knows what it takes. I know we don’t have much time before the World Cup, but we’re willing to work hard and follow her ideas. She is making a huge difference.”
In the earlier match of the evening, Malawi thrashed Zambia 60-34. Zambia lost all their round robin matches, while Malawi were only beaten by South Africa.


SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS TEAM QUALIFY FOR DAVIS CUP FINALS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African under 16 boys tennis team has qualified for the Junior Davis Cup Finals.
The team comprising of Richard Thongoana, Joshua-Howard Tripp and Bertus Kruger secured a spot in the Junior Davis Cup Finals to be played in Spain in September this year after completing a clean sweep against Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt in last week’s Africa Junior Tennis Team Championships in Cairo, Egypt.

“The boys only dropped two sets in all the matches and showcased their dominance against tough opposition on the Clay courts of Egypt.” Said team coach Allan Karam. “The team is well balanced and the players worked hard in all matches and showed incredible self-belief when there were moments of adversity, they managed to come back in certain situations where the score did not favor them” added Karam.
“I am delighted for the players as this is an incredible achievement for them and for tennis in the country. The hard work now starts and preparation for Spain will start immediately.”

Tennis South Africa President and acting CEO Gavin Crookes said “It is with a great deal of pride and satisfaction that I, on behalf of Tennis South Africa, congratulate our boys Richard, Joshua and Bertus for winning this year’s African Junior Championships. Even more commendable in this achievement is the fact that this team has now deservedly earned the right to participate in the Junior Davis Cup Finals later this year. At this event the top under 16 boys Teams from sixteen countries around the world participate – it is particularly gratifying to know that our young South African players have the ability and talent to be up there with the best in the world. This bodes well for the future of tennis in South Africa.

I know I speak for everyone in wishing our Team well and assure them of South Africa’s unqualified support in Spain.”

The Junior Davis Cup Finals will be played from 28 September to 3 October 2015 in Madrid, Spain. The tournament will see 16 different countries competing for the ultimate prize of being crowned the top junior tennis players in the world.

The South African team is as follows:
1. Richard Thongoana
2. Joshua Howard Tripp
3. Bertus Kruger
Captain - Allan Karam


SOUTH AFRICA BEAT NEMESIS MALAWI IN NETBALL THRILLER

The SPAR Proteas celebrated the official appointment of Australian World Cup winning coach Norma Plummer as their head coach with a decisive 43-33 win over their arch rivals Malawi in the
KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre in Gamalakhe on Wednesday.

Newly appointed SPAR Protea head coach Norma Plummer charges up her players during the 1st quarter break in South Africa’s 43-33 win over arch rivals Malawi at the Diamond Challenge being played at Gamalakhe in Kwazulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


South Africa took control of the match from the start. Lenize Potgieter was on fire as goalshooter, netting the ball with almost every attempt, including a shot on the run as she passed the post. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen was also effective with shots from the edge of the circle.

At the other end of the court, goalkeeper Adele Niemand and goal attack Karla Mostert did sterling work in defence, with Niemand in particular achieving a number of intercepts and turnovers.
The match was very fast and very physical, with players on both sides blown up for over-enthusiastic contact. Bongi Msomi, playing wing attack, moved like lightning, driving the ball to her circle, while Izette Lubbe did a good job at centre before she had to leave the court with a wrist injury.

The Proteas maintained their lead throughout the match, and won every quarter. At halftime they were 22-16 ahead, and their best quarter was the third, which they won by 11 goals to eight.
It was sweet revenge for the Proteas, who lost to the Malawi Queens at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. Malawi are the top-ranked African team, at fifth in the world, while the Proteas are ranked sixth.

Plummer said she had seen an improvement in the Proteas’ performance since Tuesday, when they beat Zambia 63-38.
“I told the girls they had to be prepared to stand up and be counted,” she said.
“I said they had to withstand the pressure throughout the match, and put pressure back on Malawi. By halftime, they had Malawi wondering about their game plan.
“There were some loose passes, where we lost the ball, and that was not good enough. But they sustained pressure for most of the match – there were times when they let it go, but then they came back again.”

However, Plummer said there was still a long way to go.
“I’ve been with them for just five days. So much to do, so much to learn,” she said.
“Our first match at the World Cup is against Malawi. If all goes well, we should play them in the final on Friday night, so it’s a case of one down and two to go. But first we have to beat Uganda tomorrow night, and they are developing into a very good team. It’s four days of very tough netball.”
Plummer once again made changes after the second quarter.
“I am not coaching seven players, I’m coaching 12,” she said.

“I have to know that the bench players can step onto the court at any time without the team missing a beat.”
In the other match, Uganda beat Zambia 59-36 to claim their first victory of the tournament. The world number 14 side dominated the match from start to finish, extending their lead with every quarter. The Ugandan captain, goalshooter Peace Proscovia impressed once again with her accurate shooting. She was ably supported by Rachael Nanyonga, who was named Player of the Match.
The Zambians fought hard throughout the match, but the Ugandan She Cranes proved too much for them.
Zambia take on Malawi in the first match on Thursday. It will be followed by the match between South Africa and Uganda. Both matches will be live on SuperSport.


AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP WINNER TO COACH SOUTH AFRICA

Gamalakhe, South Africa- Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Wednesday that Norma Plummer, who coached Australia to victory in the Netball World Cup in Singapore in 2011, had officially been appointed head coach of the SPAR Proteas for the World Cup in Sydney in August.

Newly announced SPAR Proteas head coach, Norma Plummer of Australia gives advice to Wing Defense Precious Mthembu during practice Wednesday at the Diamond Challenge in Gamalakhe, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Plummer will lead South Africa to the World Cup to be played in Sydney in August. JPG

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said the International Netball Federation and World Cup Committee had approved the appointment and Plummer would take over with immediate effect. Bennie Saayman would be her assistant coach, and Plummer’s assistant in Singapore, Nicole Cusack, had been appointed as the second assistant coach specializing in the shooting area. The former assistant coach, Martha Mosoahle-Samm, had withdrawn from the coaching panel because of family commitments, said Mthethwa. Elsje Jordaan would remain part of the team as the analyst, Dr Shyrelle Calder the EyeGym consultant, Tumelo Komane the team physiotherapist, Ilze Pheiffer the sports scientist and Nisha Rupnarain team manager.

NSA President Blanche de la Guerre said Plummer had been brought in to provide a fresh approach to coaching.
“We have been working with Norma since 2011, and she came here in February to conduct a training camp. The players were excited by her different approach and we realised how much they would benefit from the experience of someone with a proven track record. We couldn’t appoint her then because she was working with the England team,” she said.
Earlier, it was reported that Plummer would act as a mentor to the official coaching staff.

Plummer said she was delighted to take over as coach of the Proteas.
“There is so much talent in the team, and the girls are very hungry for success,” she said.
Plummer is also the head coach for the four nations Diamond Challenge, which is currently taking place in Margate.
“We will travel to New Zealand next month to play two Tests against the Silver Ferns. It is important for the players to have the experience of playing against one of the world’s top teams before they head into the World Cup, and regardless of the outcome of those Tests, they will benefit,” she said.

Mthethwa said NSA would have the freedom to select the World Cup team purely on merit.
“Players will be picked on performance, not on their colour,” she said.

“But NSA is very proud of the fact that last night, in the match against Zambia, there were five black players on court at one time,” she said.
“This proves our transformation process is working.”

World Cup trials will be conducted on Saturday, after the Diamond Challenge, with several other players, including the 2011 World Cup Player of the Tournament Erin Burger, joining the Diamond Challenge squad.


SOUTH AFRICA WIN OPENING MATCH OF DIAMOND CHALLENGE

Gamalakhe, South Africa-The SPAR Proteas got off to the start they wanted when they comfortably beat Zambia 63-38 in the opening match of the KwaZulu-Natal Netball Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Tuesday night.

Adele Niemand

Precious Mthembu

Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas were generally much taller than their Zambian counterparts, and they made good use of their height advantage, particularly in the Zambian circle, where Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert were able to turn the ball and get it back to the South African side.
Bongi Msomi at wing attack and Precious Mthembu at wing defence were also outstanding, achieving numerous intercepts and turnovers.

The match was fast and physical. South Africa maintained a good level of scoring throughout the match. They were 14-10 ahead after the first quarter, and led 33-16 at halftime, with the second quarter being Zambia’s worst, with only six goals. The ‘Chipolopolo’ stepped up the pace in the third quarter, scoring 10 goals to South Africa’s 15, and the last quarter was their best, where they scored 12 goals to the Proteas’ 15.
Former Australian coach Norma Plummer, who has been appointed Proteas coach for the Diamond Challenge, made some changes in the third and fourth quarters, as she tried out different combinations. Lindie Lombard came on instead of Maryka Holtzhausen as goal attack for the second half, with Phumza Maweni replacing Adele Niemand as goalkeeper, and in the final quarter, she replaced centre Izette Lubbe with Nokubongo Sibiya, giving the Kingdom Stars player her first international exposure.
Plummer said afterwards that she was quite pleased with the performance, although there was much to be done if South Africa wanted to succeed at the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.
“Zambia have not had a lot of exposure to international Netball, and thinks the Proteas can get away with against them will not work against the stronger teams,” she said.
“The Proteas make too much use of the long pass, and teams like Australia and New Zealand will just eat them up – they need to work smarter, and use short and sharp passes. We have a lot to work on before the World Cup,” she said.
Asked about the Zambian team, Plummer praised the shooters, Margaret Mutafela and Agnes Chingambo.
“They’re unbelievable, and they certainly know where the goalposts are,” she said.
Holtzhausen, the South African captain, said the Proteas were very pleased to have won their first match of the tournament.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do,” she said.
“For example, we need to look after the ball better.”
The Proteas’ archrivals Malawi, who are one above South Africa in the world rankings, showed their strength with a decisive 51-40 win over Uganda.
However, it did not go all the Malawi Queens’ way. The Uganda She Cranes, led by their dynamic captain and goalshooter Peace Proscovia, were just one goal behind Malawi after the first quarter, which ended 15-14 in Malawi’s favour, and outscored Malawi in the third quarter by 12 goals to 10. Proscovia, who is Holtzhausen’s teammate at Loughborough in the English Super League, was named player of the match. She said she was very happy that her team had fought until the end.
“Malawi are number five in the world, and Uganda are number 14. So we are very excited that we managed to keep up with them, and even win a quarter,” she said.
South Africa and Malawi meet in the first match on Wednesday, with Zambia and Uganda locking horns in the second match.


WORLD CUP WINNING NETBALL COACH TO ASSIST PROTEAS

Netball World Cup winning Australian coach Norma Plummer has joined the SPAR Proteas as consulting coach ahead of the Diamond Challenge, which begins in Margate on Tuesday.

AFRICAN NETBALL CAPTAINS.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa made the announcement on Monday. She said Plummer would be able to assess the progress made by the national players, and determine whether they were going in the right direction.
Plummer worked with the Proteas in February this year, and will work again with the current coaching panel led by Bennie Saayman.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Proteas again,” said Plummer.
“I retired from coaching fulltime after the World Cup in 2011, but since then I’ve realised that I can serve as a mentor coach. I can come in for a couple of weeks, wherever I’m needed.”
Plummer praised the concept of the Diamond Challenge, in which South Africa will play against Malawi, Uganda and Zambia, the other African countries who will be taking part in the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.
“Australia and New Zealand play each other all the time, and they also have a very strong league, which means they constantly compete at a very high level. There is a huge pool of talent in Africa, and what they need is exposure to international Netball. They need more competitions like this, but the Diamond Challenge will help them all prepare for the World Cup,” said Plummer.
Saayman said she was very pleased to be able to work with Plummer, who had coached at the very highest level.
“She brings a different approach and we can only benefit from her presence. Our training is going well, and we have had opportunities to study the other three teams. We know what to expect from them and we know what we have to do.”
Mthethwa said she was happy to be able to extend a hand of friendship to South Africa’s African sisters, ahead of the World Cup.
“The Diamond Challenge is a symbol of the unification of African Netball,” she said.
“We welcome our sisters to our country, and we all say no to xenophobia.”


TWO NEW FACES IN TEAM FOR DIAMOND CHALLENGE

Pretoria, Johannesburg- Two newcomers have been selected to join the SPAR national Netball team for the Diamond Challenge to be played in Margate next week.
The newcomers are Elsje Susanna du Plessis , a shooter from the North West Flames, and centre/goal defence Nokubonga Sibiya of the Kingdom Stars. The two players caught the eye of the selectors during the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), which ended in Pretoria on Sunday. Sibiya was named the most promising player at the NPL.

Goal attack Lindie Lombard of the Gauteng Jaguars, makes a welcome return to the national team after a long layoff because of injury. She was carefully managed during the NPL, and was not allowed to play more than three quarters in a game.

“She has been cleared now to play a full game, and we will watch her during the Diamond Challenge to see if she is match ready after her injury,” said Netball South Africa Director of Selectors Christine du Preez.

Others to return to the team, after missing the tour to Northern Ireland for the European championships last month because of work commitments are NPL player of the series Karla Mostert, the Crinums goal attack and NPL midcourt player of the series, Bongiwe Msomi, who plays centre or wing attack for the Kingdom Stars. Another Stars centre court player, Precious Mthembu, also returns to the squad.

Du Preez said the team for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August would be announced after the Diamond Challenge.
“The team for the Diamond Challenge is not necessarily the team that will go to Sydney,” she said.
“For instance, we will want to see how Erin Burger is and whether she will be ready for the World Cup,” said Du Preez.
Burger sustained an ankle injury during the NPL, and was not available for selection to the Diamond Challenge.

South Africa will play the three other countries that will represent Africa at the World Cup during the Challenge. They are long-time rivals Malawi, and World Cup newcomers Uganda and Zambia.
The tournament starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday night.

SPAR national team: Maryka Holtzhausen (C), Lindie Lombard, Elsunet du Plessis, Phumza Maweni, Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adéle Niemand, Lenize Potgieter, Izette Lubbe, Shadine van der Merwe, Karla Mostert, Zukelwa Cwaba, Nokubonga Sibiya.

Team Management:
Coach: Bennie Saayman
Assistant Coach: Martha Mosoahle/ Elsje Jordaan
Team Manager: Nisha Rupnarain


DIAMOND NETBALL CHALLENGE RETURNS TO SOUTH AFRICA

With the Netball World Cup (NWC) just around the corner, there’s good news for the SPAR Proteas – the Diamond Challenge is returning to South Africa on June 16.

The four African teams that will be playing at the World Cup – South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Uganda – will compete in the Diamond Challenge, which will be played at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate on the KZN South Coast from June 16 to 19.

“We are very excited that the Diamond Challenge is back,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.

“It was last played in 2013, but we have entered a partnership with KwaZulu Natal Sport, and they will help to finance this tournament. In return, we will assist with Netball development programmes in KZN.”

She said Margate had been chosen for the tournament because there is great interest in Netball in the Ugu district, which is the area around Margate.

“The tournament matches will be played in the evenings, and in the daytime, provincial players will hold Netball clinics for senior schoolgirls in the area,” said De la Guerre.
“We will also hold clinics for technical officials and umpires during the Diamond Challenge,” she said.

South Africa and their main African rivals, Malawi, are old hands at the NWC, but this year’s World Cup in Sydney will be a first for Uganda and Zambia.

“By holding the Diamond Challenge, we will be giving our fellow Africans some experience of tournament conditions,” said De la Guerre.

“It will also be good exposure for our players. The team that is selected for the Diamond Challenge is not necessarily the team that will go to Sydney, but this is an opportunity for the selectors to have a look at some different players.”

South Africa won the Diamond Challenges in 2012 and 2013, and will want to maintain their record this year.

De la Guerre said the Diamond Challenge was an expression of NSA’s commitment to fighting xenophobia.

“We are reaching out to our African friends and neighbours, and it is also fitting that the tournament starts on Youth Day – one of the most significant dates in our country’s history,” she said.

The tournament starts with a round robin section with play-offs for positions on Friday June 19.


SPAR PROTEAS RETURN HOME FROM EUROPEAN NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR Protea Netball team arrived back in Johannesburg on Wednesday, fresh from securing second place in the European Netball championships in Northern Ireland.

The SPAR Protea pictured at OR Tambo International Airport on their arrival Wednesday from Belfast, Northern Ireland where they finished second behind England in the European National Netball Championships.

Picture credit: BLD Communications


It was a successful tournament for South Africa, who lost only to England, but beat Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago.

Coach Benny Saayman was happy with the outcome, but said there was still work to be done ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

“We were disappointing against England, but then we just kept getting better,” said Saayman.
“The last match, against Trinidad and Tobago, was recognised as the match of the tournament. We had to fight hard, and Trinidad led for most of the match, but we came back in the final quarter and won the match 46-42. I was very proud of the girls, and of the way they fought their way back into the match.”

Saayman said at the start of the tournament, the players took some time to adjust to playing together again.
“They have all been involved in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), so they have been playing intensively with other combinations. But after the first day, they started playing as a team again, and were able to rely on one another.”
She said the players were still making too many basic errors.

“Particularly against England, where we lost too many passes and the feeds into the circle were poor,” said Saayman.
“We need to have more training camps before the World Cup, because it is essential that the players get to the point where they know exactly where everyone else is. We have to get rid of these basic errors.”

She said the players and the coaching staff had both learned a good deal from the tournament.
“We can come back and put what we learned into practice. The players will go back to the NPL, and then we have the Diamond Challenge, where we can look at some other players. I am very pleased with the way our World Cup preparations are going,” said Saayman.


SHAKY BUT SOUND FINISH BY SPAR PROTEAS AT EUROPEAN NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Belfast, Northern Ireland - South Africa end second in European Netball Championships

Going into their final game of the European Netball Championships on Sunday the SPAR Proteas knew they would have to pull out all the stops.

South Africa’s opponents on the last day of the four day Championships being played in in Belfast, Northern Ireland were the aggressive Trinidad and Tobago a side ranked only three spots behind the sixth ranked Proteas at number nine on the world rankings.

The “Calypso Girls” as the Caribbean islanders are fondly referred to as are renowned to play hard and physical netball and the Proteas were aware that the challenge was on.

But going into Sunday’s game, the Proteas were confident having easily beaten Wales 72-42 late Saturday evening.

Maryka Holtzhausen, the SPAR Protea Captain said “after a great performance against Wales my team were confident that keeping the consistency through 60 minutes Saturday against Trinidad & Tobago and sticking to our game plan would be the key focus.” Holtzhausen added that South Africa expected a tough physical battle from “The Calypso Girls” but were definitely up for the challenge.

And what a challenge it was. After the Proteas lost the first (8-10) and second quarters, they went, after half time, into the third quarter 6 goals behind their opponents (18-24).

South Africa clawed back to a three goal deficit trailing 32-35 going into the final quarter.

With quick turnovers, South Africa came back on an absolute surge. The Proteas showed good defense and kept focus on the win with goal keeper, Maweni Pumza putting on a star performance and shooter Lenize Potgieter, calm, collected and on target. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen also impressed with centre Erin Burger complimenting every Protea effort.

The Proteas came from behind to take a 4 goal lead (42-38) with only six minutes left of play. South Africa in the final minutes made the crucial goals at the right time to beat Trinidad and Tobago 46-42.

Coach Bennie Saayman admitted that South Africa for the first three quarters could not find rhythm. “ Unforced errors and missed shots kept Trinidad and Tobago in the lead. Real character and supportive play brought about the much needed breakthrough in the fourth quarter.”

“South Africa showed their will to win when their kept Trinidad and Tobago under constant pressure by employing outstanding defending tactics. They forced Trinidad and Tobago to commit errors, took the turn overs and with fast and disciplined attack scored. The team showed character by fighting for this win” continued Saayman.

So South Africa ended second in the Championships behind favourites England. With the championships being a world ranking tournament it was an important finish for the SPAR Proteas and good preparation for the Netball World Cup to be staged in Sydney in August.

Captain Maryka Holtzhausen said she was extremely proud of the girls and what they accomplished in Northern Ireland. “ That was a great match against Trinidad and Tobago. The islanders came out very physical and we started a bit slow, but great character from the girls to keep on working and pull it through even though we were behind. There was great impact from players coming off the bench.”

Holtzhausen thanked South Africa for all the support which her team appreciated. “We now know what we need to work on harder in the lead up to the World Cup in Sydney later this year”.


SPAR PROTEAS SOLDIER ON AT EUROPEAN NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Belfast, Northern Ireland - The SPAR Proteas put together an improved performance on Friday evening at the European Netball Championships when they beat hosts Northern Ireland 47-37 in the last scheduled game on day two in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Despite an energetic start to the game by South Africa, the SPAR Proteas looked an improved outfit from Thursday where they struggled to beat Scotland and lost convincingly to tournament favorites England.
Constructive attacking play and solid defense lead to a 14-11 lead by South Africa at first quarter. Unnecessary bad feeds and wrong options by South Africa in the second quarter gave Northern Ireland the opportunity to catch up to a one goal lead at half time. Constructive changes put the Proteas again on a winning path for the third and fourth quarters which were won by South Africa.

Protea Coach, Bennie Saayman said “intelligent thinking of experienced players made the difference. South Africa deserved to win by 10 goals”.

“Although we went out determined I felt we made a slow start to the game, but an improved performance by the whole squad. There was some great play from young players taking the court in a starting line and great composure from experienced players” said Protea Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen after victory.

Holtzhausen admitted her team still needed to get their error rate down especially in the defensive end but she said she was all in all proud of the girls for an improved performance.

On Saturday evening the SPAR Proteas come up against Wales. The Welsh are well known for physical play could post a danger to the South African’s.

“ We are definitely expecting a more physical game from Wales. We looking to keep on improving as a squad, focusing on our game plan and implementing it for a longer periods” said Holtzhausen.

Saayman said that with enough energy and commitment her team can beat Wales. “My team proved against Northern Ireland they can ensure constructive and attractive play so the plan is to better that against Wales on Saturday”.


SPAR PROTEAS TO PLAY TWO TESTS AGAINST NEW ZEALAND

Pretoria, South Africa - Good news for the SPAR Proteas netball team is that they will play two official Test matches against New Zealand ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said New Zealand had approached NSA about playing the matches, and South Africa had jumped at the opportunity.

“New Zealand is one of the strongest teams in the world, and it will be an excellent experience for our players. It also means they have time to recover from jet lag and get acclimatised before the World Cup, which starts on August 7,” said De la Guerre.

The Tests will be played in Hamilton on July 27 and in Auckland on July 29. The Proteas will remain in New Zealand until August 3 when they will fly to Sydney.
New Zealand is currently ranked second in the world, behind Australia. South Africa are ranked sixth.

“We see it as something of a compliment that they have invited us to play there,” said De La Guerre.

“We surprised them in 1995, so maybe they want to see what we can do,” she said.
In 1995, South Africa beat New Zealand in the semifinal of the World Cup in Birmingham in England and went on to win the silver medal, after losing to Australia in the final.

De La Guerre said the hosts would pay South Africa’s accommodation expenses while they were in New Zealand.


NETBALL SA STAGE AFRICAN TOURNAMENT TO FIGHT XENOPHOBIA

Netball South Africa will dedicate the 2015 Diamond Challenge international series to the victims of xenophobic violence, in what it hopes will be a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Launched in 2012, the Diamond Challenge is a tournament that pits Africa’s strongest netball nations against each other and serves as a platform for the development of netball in Africa.

Netball SA president Mimi Mthethwa said the federation would like the 2015 Diamond Challenge, which takes place in Durban where the xenophobic violence first erupted earlier this month, to serve as a symbol of peace and unity. The tournament, which runs from June 14 to 18, will feature the national teams of Uganda, Zambia and Malawi each of which has sizeable expatriate communities living in South Africa.

“As Netball South Africa we want to send out a strong message to South Africa and the world that we stand by our African brothers and sisters. We want the world to know that we in the sports community and general populace deplore the senseless acts of violence and displacement of extremely vulnerable communities,” said Mthethwa.

“As the umbrella body for the sport that represents nearly two million active participants we call on all South Africans to take a stand against hatred and discrimination and to end the bloodshed,” she said. “We implore individuals and communities to seek peaceful means of resolving underlying issues and differences.”

“We have always been proud to host our African sisters and compete against them in the spirit of camaraderie and friendship. We want this message of sisterhood and indeed brotherhood to echo loud and clear throughout our various communities destroyed by the violence against foreign nationals,” said Mthethwa. “We hope that in its own small way netball can play a part in the healing process.”

Malawi and South Africa are expected to revive their ongoing rivalry which has seen the two countries battle neck and neck for the top ranking on the continent and the world. The two nations will again lock horns at the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney from 7 to 16 August, as they have been seeded in the same pool.

The last Diamond Challenge was held in October 2013 in Port Elizabeth and featured both Zimbabwe and Zambia.


Netball SA Dedicates Diamond Challenge to Fight Against Xenophobia


NEW FACES IN SPAR PROTEAS NETBALL TEAM

Pretoria, South Africa - Mari-Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson and Lauren-Lee Christians have all taken a big step up in their netball careers – the three youngsters have all been selected for the SPAR Protea team representing South Africa at the European championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, next month.

“We are eager to try out young upcoming players that have represented South Africa in our junior teams (SPAR Baby Proteas and Fast 5 Netball Series), and see how ready they are for senior international competition,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Selectors, Christine du Preez.

“It is very exciting that there are so many young as well as experienced players fighting for places in the national team.
“The Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League starts next month, and the top players have five weekends of really hard netball to show us what they can do. With the forthcoming Diamond Challenge scheduled for the last weekend of June, we will still open opportunity for other players as part of the top twelve that the coach would like to test; these could include the twelve that is going to Ireland and/or other new faces if need be.

“After we have seen everyone in action in Northern Ireland, the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and the Diamond Challenge, we will have a very good idea of who to select for the World Cup in Sydney in August,” said Du Preez.

She said three players, Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni and Bongiwe Msomi, were all currently playing in the Super Netball League in England. They would return to South Africa at the end of April, in time to prepare for the European Championships.

“They are really living the netball dream,” she said.
“They are playing netball every day, and playing at a very high level. We are all looking forward to seeing what they have learnt from the experience. They should all come back even better than before they left. Bongi and Phumza have both been named Player of the Match in different matches, which shows that they are really doing well.”

The other teams taking part in the European Championships are England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. England are ranked third in the world, and the Proteas coaching staff are excited about measuring South Africa’s progress against one of the top countries ahead of the World Cup.

Head coach Bennie Saayman said the tournament would enable the coaching staff to see what aspects of play needed the most work.

SPAR South African Protea team is as follows: Erin Burger, Lauren-Lee Christians, Maryka Holtzhausen, Mari- Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni, Zanele Mdodana, Bongiwe Msomi, Nothando Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adele Niemand, Lenize Potgieter.

NSA has joined forces with the many people and organisations that have spoken out against the recent outbreak of xenophobia in South Africa, and has adopted the slogan: “Netball South Africa condemns violence and any actions linked to xenophobia”.


PREPARATIONS FOR WORLD CUP START IN STELLENBOSCH NEXT WEEK

Pretoria, South Africa - The Spar national netball team is to meet at the Stellenbosch Sports Centre for an intensive training camp from Monday to Saturday next week.

South Africa has been invited to participate in the European Netball Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from May 11 to 18. The other countries taking part are England, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland and Wales. England are ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand, and head coach Benny Saayman is excited about the prospect of gauging South Africa’s strengths against one of the top teams ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in August.

“The other teams are also quite strong, so we will be able to see where we stand and what we still need to do,” said Saayman.
“It is very important to us to play against strong opposition, because we will meet both Australia and New Zealand at the World Cup.”

She said the training camp would be used to hone the players’ basic skills before giving them game time.
“We’ll break it down to different aspects of the game and work on those until they are second nature,” she said.
“Once we’ve done that we can start playing again.”

The squad will also spend time with Dr Sherylle Calder, who is renowned for the success of her specialised Eye Gym, which helped England and South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2007 respectively. The eye training helps players react faster to situations on court.
Three players, national captain Maryke Holtzhausen, Bongiwe Msomi and Phumza Maweni are currently playing Super League netball in England. Saayman said that if they were selected for the squad for the tournament in Ireland, they would join the rest of the squad at the pre-departure training camp from May 4 to 8.


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA BACKS DURBAN BID TO HOST COMMONEWEALTH GAMES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) has thrown its weight fully behind Durban’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Mimi Mthethwa

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said netball was an important component of the Commonwealth Games, and NSA would be honoured to have such an important tournament at home.
“Netball is mainly played by Commonwealth countries, and the cream of world netball is represented at the Commonwealth Games every four years,” she said.
“There are two major events on the international netball calendar – the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. South Africa is one of the top six countries in world netball, and I know the SPAR Proteas would welcome playing in front of their home crowds in a major event like the Games.”
She said netball was the biggest women’s sport in South Africa, and a tournament of the magnitude of the Commonwealth Games would further enhance its popularity in the country.
“We have seen what happened in the United Kingdom after the Olympic Games in London in 2012, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Local support for the sporting codes involved in the Games increased dramatically, as British sportsmen and women captured the imagination of the British public.

“The same would happen here, and support for netball would grow exponentially as people see what an exciting sport it is when played at international level.”
“With home support, South Africa would feel confident of challenging for a medal in netball.”
As the only city in the running to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Durban is almost certain to be named the host for the biggest multi-sports event ever hosted in South Africa.
Although African countries make up the majority of Commonwealth countries, the Commonwealth Games have never been staged in Africa.


NETBALL SA LAUDS ENGLAND FOR WINNING 2019 WORLD CUP.

The International Netball Federation (INF) announced recently that England Netball has won the rights to host the 15th staging of the Netball World Cup in 2019. The tournament, which follows this year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, will be held at ACC Liverpool in the iconic city of Liverpool, widely renowned for its international reputation in hosting sports and other major events, including the World Netball Series.
Netball SA President Mimi Mthethwa said: “Netball is thriving with unprecedented growth in participation, support from sponsors and exposure in the media particularly in South Africa. We have toured England on numerous occasions and can attest to the top class facilities they have to stage an event of this magnitude.
“We in the international netball fraternity are looking forward to this year’s World Cup in Sydney and believe that such world class events would serve to further enhance the profile of the sport. We want to be one of the most followed and watched codes globally and this will help us to get there,” said Mthethwa.
INF President Molly Rhone said: “England put in a strong bid and we are confident that they will deliver an outstanding event in an excellent venue in the city of Liverpool. It is an exciting time for netball right now, which is growing at an unprecedented rate throughout the world. We look forward to seeing this growth continue to soar and to working with the Organising Committee in bringing the INF’s most important event to England in 2019.”
The 2019 Netball World Cup forms part of UK Sport’s Gold Event Series, which is investing around £40 million of National Lottery funding to bring up to 100 world-class events to Great Britain to help build a strong legacy from London 2012 and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
CEO of England Netball Joanna Adams commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the rights to stage the World Cup, the biggest competition in netball. With participation increasing in the sport, this will provide a welcome incentive to build upon our momentum and increase the visibility of netball in our country.
“Having worked with Liverpool to host major global tournaments previously, we have a proven track record of being able to stage such a prestigious event and we look forward to welcoming the netball world to the North-West. On behalf of England Netball, I would like to thank all parties who worked with us on securing this bid.”


SOUTH AFRICAN FED CUP TEAM ANNOUNCED

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa announced their strongest possible Fed Cup team, including the country’s top-ranked female player, Chanelle Scheepers, for the Euro/Africa Group 2 tie from 4 to 7 February 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia. South Africa will face the hosts as well as Bosnia Herzegovina, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Egypt and Slovenia in the round-robin competition to be played at the Tere Tenniscentre.

KIA SA FED Cup Team player Chani Scheepers.
Picture by: Roger Anderson

KIA SA FED Cup Team player Chanel Simmonds.

KIA SA FED Cup Team player Ilze Hattingh.

KIA SA FED Cup Team player Michelle Sammons.

Picture by: BLD Communications.


The team, to be called the KIA SA Fed Cup Team, will be supported by KIA Motors South Africa.

KIA is excited to be part of the Fed Cup team set up and to facilitate their efforts to progress through the groups to a level that does justice to the talent we have in South Africa,” commented David Sieff, KIA South Africa Marketing Director. “We are also excited to have Chani spearheading the SA attack, and we wish the team every success on the tour”.

Scheepers achieved a career-high singles ranking of 37 in 2011 when she won the WTA title in Guangzhou, China. She is currently ranked 77 in the world, and is back on the SA Fed Cup team for the first time in 10 years.

“I’m so happy to be able to join the team again,” said Scheepers. “I love representing South Africa when I play around the world and it’s even more exciting to be able to do that in a team format with great young players coming up”.

South African Captain Earl Grainger named Chanel Simmonds, Ilze Hattingh, and Michelle Sammons as the three other players to join Scheepers on the team.

“I am delighted that Chani made herself available to play for South Africa. Chani is a great player and will bring so much respect and experience to the South African team,” said Grainger.

Last year South Africa failed to gain promotion to Euro/Africa Group 1 during their Fed Cup in Lithuania. With Scheepers in the side, Grainger believes that the team has a good chance of gaining promotion this year.

“Without doubt Chani will give us our best chance of promotion,” said Grainger. “With her vast experience, we know that our chances are the best ever and, with Chani part of the team, my options of selection as Coach are greater.”

Tennis South Africa confirmed that the team would be having a pre-departure camp from 28 January 2015 at the Bedfordview Country Club before heading to Estonia on 31 January 2015.

South African team rankings (singles/doubles);

Chani Scheepers; Singles 81, Doubles: 127
Chanel Simmonds; Singles 309, Doubles: 258
Ilze Hattingh; Singles 656, Doubles: 526
Michelle Sammons; Singles 674, Doubles: 348


APPOINTMENT OF HEAD COACH AND ASSISTANTS FOR SPAR PROTEA TEAM

Pretoria, South Africa – Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Tuesday the appointment of Benny Saayman as Head Coach of the SPAR Protea team. She will be assisted by Dr Elsje Jordaan and Martha Mosoahle.

Ms Benny Saayman has been appointed as Head Coach of the SPAR Protea Netball team.

Martha Mosoahle-Samm has been appointed as assistant coach of the SPAR Protea Netball team.

Dr Elsje Jordaan has been appointed as assistant coach of the SPAR Protea Netball team.

Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Their appointment is with effect from 01 February 2015 till 31 August 2015. They replace Elize Kotze, who resigned as head coach last week, for personal reasons.
“We are confident that Ms Saayman would be able to guide the team to a successful Netball World Championships (WNC),” said NSA President Mimi Mthethwa.
“She is a mature coach who has been on the same platform before and during her tenure the team was ranked fifth in the world. Ms Saayman was the coach for the Western Stings, the NPL that won the second division of the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup last year. Her trademark is playing basic netball. It would be important for our team to go back to playing basic netball where all the skills they have acquired in the last three years under the former coach would come in handy to support and strengthen their play.
“We had a frank discussion with Ms Saayman to ensure that she and her assistants work as a team. We are happy with how she sees their roles as individual coaches. She was given the opportunity to suggest who she thinks would add value to her game plan; she identified the two assistants.”
“I am confident Dr Jordaan would contribute a lot towards the attack aspect of the game while Martha Mosoahle is very good in mid-court and would be instrumental in improving this area of the game,” said Saayman.
“I will guide and nurture both the assistant coaches. Elsje (Jordaan) played under me when I was national coach, I know her as a player and I can also say she is currently the best game analyst we have in South Africa. She and Martha both captained the SPAR Proteas during their playing days. I will also work hard to build the team to understand that we are family. I would like our team to play basic, fast netball”.
Saayman said South Africa had enough quality players, both black and white, to do a good job in the WNC. She was quick to point out that she was not coming in to perform miracles but was definitely looking forward to the challenge of preparing the team to do well at the WNC.
South Africa is drawn along Malawi, Singapore and Sri Lanka in Pool C (INF has indicated that this might change). Although this might look like an easy pool, it would be bad for the team to take these teams lightly. Regardless of where the team ends in the pool, if they are position one or two they are guaranteed to meet either Australia or New Zealand in the next stage of the competition.
Mthethwa said plans for team preparation had been worked out before the Kotze’s resignation, and Saayman was expected to proceed with these plans.


NETBALL COACH RESIGNS

Pretoria, South Africa – Netball South Africa (NSA) confirmed on Wednesday that it had accepted the resignation for personal reasons of the head coach of the SPAR National team, Elize Kotze.

Fast13.jpg

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


“We had a meeting with the coach on Monday to discuss the team’s preparations for the World Championships in Sydney in August,” said NSA President Mimi Mthethwa.
“At that meeting, she read us a letter tendering her resignation. She said she had given the matter much thought and had decided that it was necessary for her to resign.”
In her letter of resignation, Kotze said she had experienced a trying time in her life, and for personal reasons beyond her control, had decided to resign as national coach.
It is known that Kotze’s son has been critically ill, spending several weeks in intensive care.
Kotze said it had been an honour and a privilege to coach the national team.
“I am passionate about netball, and have always believed we can compete successfully against the best in the world,” she said.
“Their talent is exponential, and I will be behind them all the way.”
Kotze was appointed head coach in 2011, and took the Proteas to fifth place in the World Championships in Singapore that year, beating arch-rivals Malawi in the play-off for fifth place. However, the team lost to Malawi in the fifth-place play-off at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, and dropped back to sixth place in the world rankings.
Mthethwa said Kotze’s resignation had come as a shock, but there was still enough time for a new coaching team to prepare the Proteas for the World Championships.
“We will have a team of coaches focusing on different aspects. For instance, while our defensive play is outstanding, we need to be more attacking, so we will have a coach who can develop that style of play,” said Mthethwa.
“The team of coaches will operate under a head coach, and we expect to make that appointment next week.”
“We are very grateful to Elize for her outstanding work with the team,” said Mthethwa.
“She took over when the team was down, and brought them back into contention. She has laid an excellent foundation for the coaching team to build on.”
Mthethwa said NSA had considered bringing in a coach from one of the powerhouses of world netball, Australia or New Zealand, but felt that there were people in South Africa who were capable of taking the team further.
“However, we are bringing the former Australian coach, Norma Plummer, out to work with the 15 top players for two weeks in February. Norma was coach of the Australian team that won gold in Singapore in 2011, and she will bring much to our team.”


A GOOD YEAR FOR NETBALL

Pretoria, South Africa – 2014 has been a busy year for South African netball, in the run-up to the Netball World Championships in Sydney next year.

The winning Gauteng North team (Behind: Riana Bezuidenhout (Manager), Faith Tumelo Mantjiu, Jeanie Steyn, Erin Burger, Melissa Myburgh, Shadine van der Merwe, Nthabiseng Mothutsi, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Jenny van Dyk (Coach). Front: Lenize Potgieter, Amanda Maynardt (Captain), Tshina Mdau, Mampho Tsotetsi and Lindie Lombard), after beating Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the final of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Bellville, Velodrome in August.


The SPAR Fast5 team clinched fifth position in the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand last month, with a decisive 30-22 victory over arch-rivals Malawi in the fifth place play-off. From L-R (Back): Mari-Lena Joubert, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni. (Front) Tumelo Mantjiu, Elsunet Du Plessis, Shadine Van der Merwe, Lauren-Lee Christians and Bongolethu Ngubeni.


Team South Africa celebrates after winning the SPAR Challenge netball test series between South Africa and Scotland at Bellville Velodrome in June 2014. From L-R: (Front) Adele Niemand, Maryka Holtzhausen, Precious Mthembu, Bongi Msomi, Zanele Mdodana; (Back) Phumza Maweni, Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Chrisna van Zyl, Erin Burger, Kefiloe Tsotetsi and Karla Mostert.
Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


The SPAR South Africa netball squad took part in a number of training camps ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and also played a three-Test series against Scotland at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town in June. The Proteas improved with every outing, beating the Scottish Thistles by more than 20 goals each time.
An innovation this year was the introduction of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, in which the country’s top players were involved in high intensity matches over a hectic five-week period. It was the first semi-professional national league, and players and administrators alike welcomed it. The netball in the first division was of a very high standard, although it soon became clear that the teams to beat were the Free State Crinums and the Gauteng Jaguars. These teams met up in a thrilling final, which the Crinums won 40-36 in extra time.
The most important international event of the year was the Commonwealth Games, where all the world’s top netball countries were represented. South Africa were drawn in the same pool as Australia, England, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Wales.
South Africa did well in the pool matches, with decisive victories over Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Wales. In their match against third-ranked England, they finished six goals short, and the eventual silver medalists, Australia, beat the Proteas 64-40. The Proteas finished third in their pool and came up against perennial rivals, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth place. Malawi squeaked home 53-45, after an exciting ding-dong battle. Their victory meant that Malawi were now ranked fifth in the world, ahead of South Africa.
The SPAR National Championships were played at the Bellville Velodrome in August, and this time it was Gauteng North that came out on top, winning the title for the fourth time in five years. They beat Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) in the final. Dr Kenneth Kaunda were unbeaten during the round robin stages, but Dorette Badenhorst’s young players were no match for Jenny van Dyk’s experienced team, which boasted six current and former Protea players. Gauteng North won the match by 63 goals to 37. Last year’s champions, Mangaung, finished in fourth place, behind Boland.
There was more excitement in October, when a South African invitation team took on a team from the Australian Sports Institute in Potchefstroom, giving younger players from both countries a taste of international netball.
The South African Fast5 squad travelled to New Zealand for the World Fast5 tournament, which features the top six netball countries. The South Africans clinched fifth place with a decisive 30-22 victory over Malawi.
“It has been a very good year for netball,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa.
“One of the highlights was the introduction of the premier league, with one of South Africa’s biggest companies, SAB, coming on board,” she said.
“It is the first time they have sponsored a woman’s sport, and it is exciting to see that SAB have been nominated for the Newcomer Sponsor’s award for the Discovery Awards next year. SPAR continues to be a huge support and our very loyal partner and friend.
“It was also very pleasing that two netballers were honoured at the gsport4girls Awards, with Lenize Potgieter being named Newcomer of the Year and Zanele Mdodana the Style Star of the Year. Lenize was spotted during the premier league, and fast-tracked into the national team.
“I believe netball is doing very well, and I think we will go from strength to strength next year,” said Mthethwa.
Mike Prentice, Group Marketing Executive of SPAR said that he was excited at the strides netball had made over the past year. “SPAR have for many years believed that netball is a ‘sleeping giant’ and this past year Netball South Africa have made incredible progress in securing additional sponsorship partners and introducing some exciting events and projects to the game. This excites SPAR and we welcome this progress as it complements our investment into the game we believe so strongly can uplift communities and in particular women in our country.”


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.


TOURISTS SECURE CLEANSWEEP IN SPAR NETBALL SERIES

Potchefstroom, South Africa – South Africa’s Under-23 invitation team put up a strong fight on Saturday, but the Australian Centre of Excellence side pulled off a narrow 41-37 victory to seal a 3-0 win in the three-match Spar International Netball Series in Potchefstroom.

Lentsa Motau of South Africa produced an outstanding performance during the last match between SPAR South Africa Invitation team and Australia Centre of Excellence on Saturday. South Africa’s Under-23 invitation team put up a strong fight on Saturday, but the Australian Centre of Excellence side pulled off a narrow 41-37 victory to seal a 3-0 win in the three-match SPAR International Netball Series in Potchefstroom.


Getting off to their best start of the series, the South Africans took an early 5-1 lead, but the tourists closed the gap as both sides kept up the pressure in a closely fought contest, with the lead changing hands repeatedly throughout the first three quarters.
The hosts led 22-20 at half-time before they came unstuck as the visiting side used their pace around the court to open a four-point gap heading into the final period.
With the South African defense working hard to put pressure on the Australians, and capitalising on the counter attack, they were able to narrow the advantage to one point in the closing stages.
The tourists launched a final assault, however, in the last few minutes and pulled ahead to secure victory.
“It was an excellent game. Well done to the Australian team. They played really hard,” said Dorette Badenhorst, coach of the SA invitation squad.
“They’ve got a lot of depth and I think that was the difference but I’m really proud of the girls. They came out to win today and they did a good job.”
Australian coach Michelle den Dekker was pleased her side had been given such a close contest, giving them valuable experience in a rare international outing for the young squad.
“I’m very proud of this development team and I think we achieved everything we wanted to in this series. Thanks to Netball South Africa for hosting us,” Den Dekker said.
“We would love to come back, but we’ll look at the planning for next year. If there’s funding available from the Australian Sport Commission and our sponsors, it would be great to compete in another international series.”
Ashleigh Brazill, the Australian team’s captain, who had been sidelined earlier in the week with a stomach bug, along with a few other players in the squad, was equally delighted with their performance.
“It was a great battle. The South Africans put it to us and we put it back,” Brazill said.
“It was exactly what we wanted from this match and this tour.”


SOUTH AFRICA FIGHT BACK TO DRAW SPAR FAST5 SERIES

Potchefstroom, South Africa – South Africa held their composure in the dying seconds to hand the Australian Centre of Excellence the first defeat of their tour on Friday, securing a 27-26 victory in the second and final match of the fast5 section of the SPAR International Netball Series in Potchefstroom.

SPAR SA Fast5 captain, Maryka Holtzhausen in action at the SANDF Kopanelo Sport Hall in Potchefstroom during the Fast5 match of the SPAR International Netball series on Friday, 17 October 2014. The South African team clinched the match 27-26 against the Australian Centre of Excellence.

Picture by: Mario van de Wall


The hosts took the early lead and stayed in front till the final whistle, using their powerplay to open a 12-point lead in the third quarter and holding off the visitors in the final period.
The series ended in a 1-1 draw after the Australian side won the opening fast5 match on Wednesday.
“It was a wonderful win, especially after the first game,” said SAPR SA Fast5 coach Elize Kotze.
“The last few seconds were really stressful out there but the girls handled themselves very well.
“We kept to our game plan and this is only the beginning.”
South Africa’s assistant coach, Martha Mosoahle-Samm, was equally satisfied with the team’s performance.
“It was a great game and I’m glad we pulled through. We’re very happy with the win,” said Mosoahle-Samm.
Kotze will name her squad on Saturday for the Fast5 World Series in Auckland next month, and she confirmed South Africa would play warm-up matches against Jamaica, England and Australia before the annual five-a-side tournament.
“South Africa played very well tonight,” said Australian Centre of Excellence coach Michelle den Dekker.
“I know they’ve been working very hard on some things ahead of their tournament next month and they did very well.
“I think our goal shooting percentage let us down tonight. That was probably the key.”
The Australian outfit will face a South African Under-23 side in the final match of their tour at Kopanelo Sport Hall on Saturday.
“We’ve already won the series after winning the first two matches (in the longer format) and we’re absolutely confident we can win 3-0,” Den Dekker said.


AUSTRALIAN NETBALL PLAYERS SHARE SKILLS WITH RISING STARS

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Thirty local schoolgirls were given a unique opportunity in Potchefstroom on Sunday as the Australian Centre of Excellence squad took time out from the SPAR International Netball Series to participate in a coaching clinic.

Thirty local schoolgirls were given a unique opportunity at North West University Potchefstroom campus on Thursday as the Australian Centre of Excellence squad took time out from the SPAR International Netball Series to participate in a coaching clinic. The Australian team beat SPAR South African Fast5 team last night 38-33 in the SPAR International Netball Series at SANDF Kopanelo Hall in Potchefstroom.

Thirty local schoolgirls were given a unique opportunity at North West University Potchefstroom campus on Thursday as the Australian Centre of Excellence squad took time out from the SPAR International Netball Series to participate in a coaching clinic. The Australian team beat SPAR South African Fast5 team last night 38-33 in the SPAR International Netball Series at SANDF Kopanelo Hall in Potchefstroom.
Picture by: Messed up Media


South African Schools Netball (SASN) linked with partners Unicef, Sportstec, the Department of Education, Sport and Recreation SA and Gate to give the budding young players a chance to develop their netball talent and life skills.
“This is the first time we have worked on a project like this, but SASN President Di Woolley, who is with the SA Under-17 team in Portugal at the moment, has been working with Unicef for the last four years to put this partnership together,” said SASN Project Manager Sanmarie Schlebusch.
“We’re hoping to do this on a regular basis across the country with national and international players. It’s about giving to the young players and teaching them to pay it forward.”
Unicef sports development specialist Lyle Jacobs said every child had the right to play, but they were attempting to do more than merely promote fun during the two-hour clinic.
“We’re looking to develop and empower the girl child. It’s about holistic development and giving them life-long skills,” Jacobs said.
“We’re focusing on advocacy, raising awareness of sport’s role in society and giving the girl child an opportunity to express herself.
“The Australian team wanted to invest time into young players and today gave them an opportunity to do that by sharing their skills and expertise.”
Michelle den Dekker, coach of the Australian outfit who enjoyed a rest day during the SPAR International Netball Series, said it was a privilege for her players to share their skills with the school children.
“This is what netball is all about. It’s about uniting the world and this country,” Den Dekker told the budding young players.
“Netball is about fun, but it’s also about camaraderie and one of the reasons we’re here is to learn something about South Africa’s culture. To see your smiles today will be something we can take back with us to Australia.”
Helene Botha, President of Dr Kenneth Kaunda netball, thanked all involved for their contribution to the region.
“Nobody in the country has had the opportunity you’re getting today,” Botha told the young participants.
“Thanks to Unicef for their contribution, and to SPAR for everything they’re doing for netball in South Africa and this region.”


AUSTRALIAN TEAM TAKE EARLY LEAD IN SPAR FAST5 SERIES

Potchefstroom, South Africa – The SPAR South Africa Fast5 team dominated most of the match but ultimately went down 38-33 against the Australian Centre of Excellence in their opening match of a two-game series at Kopanelo Sport Hall, in Potchefstroom, on Wednesday night.
The hosts led 7-6 after the first quarter, and while the tourists hit back to draw level (13-13) at half-time, Elize Kotze’s side used their powerplay in the third period and drew clear again to hold a 25-18 heading into the final stanza.

Amanda Mynhardt and Phumza Maweni, both from South Africa in action against the Australians during the Fast5 match played at the SANDF Kopanelo Sports Hall in Potchefstroom on Wednesday, 15 October 2014.
Picture by: Mario van de wall


The Australians, however, made full use of their powerplay in the last quarter, playing it safe with two-point shots as they secured a 1-0 series lead ahead of Friday’s second and final contest.
“It’s important for us to be consistent throughout the four quarters,” said SPAR South Africa coach Elize Kotze.
“We were in a good position after our powerplay but we need to be more clinical on defence.”
National captain Maryka Holtzhausen was satisfied with her performance, but she hoped they would be able to work on a few key areas in training on Thursday.
“We need to be much tighter through our powerplay, especially with our two-point shots,” Holtzhausen said.
“I thought we did well, especially considering this was our first game together as a team.”
Both sides were without senior players due to injury and illness, and Michelle de Dekker, coach of the Australian team, was pleased with the victory as the visitors remained unbeaten on their week-long tour.
“It would be nice to hit more three-pointers, and we did not defend hard enough, but only two of our players have played Fast5 matches before so I thought it was a solid performance.”


SOUTH AFRICA LOSE SPAR NETBALL SERIES DESPITE IMPROVED PERFORMANCE

Potchefstroom, South Africa – South Africa’s Under-23 invitation side gave the Australian Centre of Excellence a solid fight on Tuesday night, but ultimately went down 45-38 in the second match of the SPAR International Netball Series in Potchefstroom.

Captain of the Australian Centre of Excellence team, Mandy Proud and Izette Lubbe of South Africa in action at the SANDF Kopanelo Sports Hall in Potchefstroom during the SPAR International Netball Series on Tuesday.
Picture by: Mario van de wall


The Australian outfit, who bagged a 66-33 victory in the opening game on Sunday, won the three-match series with a game to spare.
“There was a little lack of concentration at times which cost us the game,” said Dorette Badenhorst, coach of the SPAR SA team, who was delighted with the improved display.
“It was a great performance on defense and attack.”
The South Africans were boosted by a few players who joined their ranks after the opening match, but the Australians were hit by the absence of three of their key players due to illness.
“We knew what was expected this time, and what to do on court,” said SA captain Zandre Kruger.
“We communicated better and were able to turn more balls on defence to give to the attack.”
The tourists got off to a solid start, and looked to be running away with the match again in the early stages, but the South Africans showed grit and determination to claw their way back into the game.
They moved in front shortly before half-time, leading 22-21 at the interval, with the Australian side placed on the back foot for the first time in the series.
Badenhorst introduced four subs in the third quarter and shifted Izette Lubbe from wing attack to centre, which produced the desired effect as the hosts took control.
Keeping their composure, however, the Australian outfit surged back in front and led 32-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Badenhorst made three more changes, and shifted Shadine van der Merwe from wing defence to goal defence, but Australian coach Michelle den Dekker also rang the changes in the second half, as the visitors drew clear to secure another comfortable win, though it was far less convincing than Sunday’s victory.
“The South Africans played hard for the full 60 minutes and kept their momentum,” said Australian coach Michelle den Dekker.
“They kept pushing back at us, which was a really big positive for them.”
The SANDF Kopanelo Sport Stadium was packed almost to capacity, with local supporters raising the roof as the South Africans put up a tremendous fight.
“It was an amazing experience. We don’t get this kind of support at home,” said Australian centre Maddy Proud.
“It was fantastic to see so many people appreciating the game.”
The third and final match of the series will be played on Saturday, while the SA fast5 squad will face the Australian side on Wednesday and Friday in the shorter, faster format.


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA WISHES POTGIETER SPEEDY RECOVERY

Potchefstroom, South Africa – SPAR Proteas goal shooter Lenize Potgieter will be sorely missed by her teammates this week, in a two-match SPAR Fast5 series against an Australian invitation team, after being involved in a car accident on Saturday.

Lenise Portgieter of Gauteng North in action against Nelson Mandela Bay during the SPAR National Netball Championships in Cape Town, August 2014.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Netball South Africa CEO Blanche de la Guerre confirmed on Tuesday that Potgieter had been withdrawn from the SPAR SA squad while recovering in hospital.
“The SPAR SA Fast5 team will miss Lenize this week. She is a brilliant up and coming player,” said NSA CEO Blanche de la Guerre, who visited Potgieter at Montana Hospital in Pretoria on Sunday.
“We wish her well and hope for a speedy recovery of one of our country’s most talented players.”
Jenny van Dyk, coach of the University of Pretoria team, believed Potgieter had the strength and will to recover in time to represent the country at the Fast5 World Series in Auckland next month.
“She has a very strong character so I’m not ruling that out,” Van Dyk said.
“It was a pretty big accident but she’s a tough cookie.”


GUTSY SOUTH AFRICANS FALL TO AUSTRALIAN CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

Potchefstroom, South Africa – While the South African invitation team put up a strong fight in the first half, they were outclassed by an Australian invitation side in the opening match of the SPAR International Netball Series at the SANDF Kopanelo Sport Centre, in Potchefstroom, on Sunday night.

SPAR South Africa Invitation team’s goal attacker, Mari-Lena Joubert (Right) and Courtney Bruce (Left) of Australia’s Centre of Excellence in action at the SPAR International Netball Series played at the SANDF Kopanelo Sport Hall, Potchefstroom in the North West on Sunday.


Despite the convincing 66-33 loss, Dorette Badenhorst, the coach of the SA squad which is made up of Under-23 players, remained upbeat about her team’s performance.
While the South Africans played their first ever match together, the core players in the touring outfit, representing the Australian Centre of Excellence, have lived together for the past three months.
“There are a lot of positives we can take from this match,” Badenhorst said.
“For a lot of our players this was the first time they played at this level, and it’s the first time they’ve played together as a team.
“The second quarter was excellent and going forward we can take a lot from this game. The more they play togther, the better they’ll get.”
The visitors got off to an explosive start, displaying more speed and aggression than their opponents, as they took a 7-2 lead midway through the first quarter.
The hosts fought back, however, and while they struggled to match the pace and physicality of the tourists, they were more clinical and precise around the court, reducing the advantage to 9-6 after 10 minutes.
That was the closest they would come to closing the gap, though, as the Australians drew clear once again to lead 18-6 at the end of the opening quarter.
Refusing to throw in the towel, the SA squad continued to fight but they were dominated in defence, and while goal shooter Eloise Annandale struggled with her accuracy, goal attack Mari-Lena Joubert did well to keep some pressure on the Australians up front.
Maintaining contact, the home side trailed 30-17 at half-time and were still in with a chance of working their way back into the game.
In an attempt to give all her players some game time, Badenhorst made four changes for the third quarter, with all four subs - Chante Steyn (goal shooter), Tshina Mdau (centre), Sasha-Lee Peersen (wing defence) and Kefiloe Tsotetsi (goalkeeper) - sent out on court.
The changes did not have a positive impact, however, as the tourists ran away with the game in the third and fourth quarters, romping to a comfortable victory.
“I don’t think the score is a true reflection of the game. I didn’t realise the gap was so big,” said Australian captain Ashleigh Brazil.
“The South African girls were amazing, from defence to shooter, and I was really impressed with them. We’re looking forward to the next game.”
The second fixture of the three-match series will be played at the same venue, at 6pm, on Tuesday night.


SPAR PROTEAS FOCUS ON NETBALL WORLD CUP

Pretoria, South Africa – Netball South Africa has congratulated fellow African teams Uganda and Zambia who will join the SPAR Proteas and Malawi as Africa’s representatives at Netball World Cup Sydney 2015.
Following rigorous qualifying events across the five regions – Europe, Oceania, America, Asia and Africa – the International Netball Federation (INF) confirmed this week that the 16 nations who will compete at the Netball World Cup Sydney 2015.
The top six nations automatically qualified when the INF World Rankings were confirmed in July. These were Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Malawi and South Africa. As a result of the Regional Qualifiers, they will be joined by Wales, Scotland, Fiji, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zambia.
“We are very proud of our African sister federations Zambia and Uganda for making it to the World Cup,” said Netball South Africa president Mimi Mthethwa. “Netball on the continent continues to make giant strides forward and we are sure of putting in a good showing for Africa.”
Mthethwa said her federation was providing SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze and her team every support to help assist them to put on a display worthy of capturing netball’s most prestigious prize.
“I can assure you that we are not going to Sydney to make up the numbers. We are going there to compete for the World Cup and establish South Africa as one of the dominant players on the global stage,” said Mthethwa. “We have mass participation, elite players and a world class league. Winning the World Cup would but netball on the map and another step towards a fully professional netball circuit in South Africa.”
Kotze said she was very excited for Uganda and Zambia having made it to the World Cup.
“Uganda and Zambia showed last year at the Africa Cup in Malawi, they are teams to be reckoned with in the future. The gap between scores against the top African countries decreased and they played with more confidence and consistency,” said Kotze. “For Africa to have four of the 16 teams participating at the 2015 World Cup is not only a great achievement for netball but also for all women in Africa. These women of Africa are unstoppable in fighting for their goals and dreams.”

Zambia, who defeated higher ranked African nations, will be competing in only their second World Cup since the tournament began in 1963.
In Europe, England is one of four nations (Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica) to have played in every World Cup. Wales and Scotland also have a consistent record at the event, competing in 13 of the 14 editions of the tournament (missing the 1967 and 2011 Cups respectively).
In Asia, Sri Lanka upset higher ranked nations to join Singapore as the two qualifying nations last month while Fiji, Samoa, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have been preparing for Sydney 2015 after qualifying earlier in the year in events in the Cooks Islands (Oceania Region) and Canada (Americas Region).
International Netball Federation President, the Hon. Molly Rhone, said: “This has been a particularly exciting lead up to the Netball World Cup, with an unprecedented four African nations making it through to the Finals. The competition will be fierce and the rivalry intense at our flagship INF event next August.”


AUSTRALIAN COACH SAYS SOUTH AFRICAN NETBALL HAS MADE GREAT STRIDES

Pretoria, South Africa – Australia’s longest serving netball captain, Michelle Den Dekker, says netball in South Africa has made great strides in the past 15 years.
Den Dekker, who was captain of the Australian team that beat Debbie Hamman’s South African team in the final of the 1995 netball world championships, was speaking ahead of the coming SPAR International series between a South Africa invitation team and the Australian Team of Excellence in Potchefstroom from October 12 to 18.
“The South Africans have become very competitive,” said Den Dekker.
“They are playing a harder style of one-on-one defence, which is making it more difficult for us.”
Den Dekker, the head coach of the Netball Centre of Excellence in Canberra, said the Challenge series was very important for Australia’s future stars.
“They need to experience international travel and also playing against different teams with different styles,” she said.
“Most of them have never played at altitude before, so that could be a challenge. But that is all part of the experience they need. We expect at least five senior players to retire after the World Championships in Sydney next year, so we are looking to players from this group to step up to the next level.
“The depth of netball in Australia is very strong, so I am confident that these players will do well.”
She said two players in particular would be pushing for a place in the Australian team for the World Championships next year.
“Ashleigh Brazill, who plays centre and wing defence, has a very good chance of making the team, and I am also very excited about Kate Shimmin, who plays goalkeeper and goal defence. Kate has a vertical jump of 70 centimeters, and is an expert at the lift, which makes it difficult to score against her,” said Den Dekker.
The coach said that she would be travelling with a squad of 14 players instead of the normal 12, because of the need to identify players who were ready to make the step up to the senior Australian team.
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Australian Team of Excellence: Ashleigh Brazill, Courtney Bruce, Beryl Friday, Hulita Haukinima, Saral Klau, Cody Lange, Maddy Proud, Kate Shimmin, Verity Simmons, Kaylia Stanton, Amy Steel, Numi Tupia, Georgie Virgo, Chloe Watson. Coach: Michelle den Dekker.


NETBALL TEAMS ANNOUNCED FOR POTCHEFSTROOM’S SPAR INTERNATIONAL SERIES

Pretoria, South Africa – Sporting rivalry between South Africa and Australia stretches back over decades, and for many South African sports stars, getting the better of a team from Down Under is sweeter than any other victory.
As much as there is rivalry between two sporting nations, there is also friendship, and both will be on display in Potchefstroom from October 12 to 18 when a South African invitation netball team takes on the Australian Team of Excellence in the SPAR International Series.
The two teams, both made up of players who are 23 or younger, will play three matches against each other, while the Australians will also play the South African Fast5 team in two Fast5 matches.
“We were approached by Netball Australia, who wanted to give their young players some experience in travelling and playing overseas, and we were only too willing to agree,” said Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.
“It’s a win-win situation, because it means we can give our younger players valuable experience against a team from one of the top netball countries. Some of our invitation team, like Melissa Myburgh, Lenize Potgieter and Kefiloe Tsotetsi have already played for the Proteas, but others are players we have our eyes on for the future. Many of them were part of the South African Under-21 team that played in the world youth championships last year.”
De la Guerre said the Challenge series would be an ideal opportunity to measure South Africa’s development programme against the Australian programme.
“We will also talk to them about ways we can improve our programmes,” she said.
The South African Fast5 team is the team that will play in the Fast5 championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in November, and is a combination of young players and some very experienced players, like former Proteas captain Amanda Mynhardt and the current captain, Maryke Holtzhausen.
South Africa finished fourth in the Fast5 last year, and will be hoping to be among the medals this year.

Teams for the SPAR Netball Series:
SPAR Fast5 Team: Lenize Potgieter (Gauteng North), Mari-Lena Joubert (Boland), Maryke Holtzhausen (Mangaung Metro), Lauren-Lee Christians (Mangaung Metro), Amanda Mynhardt (Gauteng North), Mampho Tsotetsi (Gauteng Central), Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Vanes-Mari du Toit (Gauteng North), Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North). Lindie Lombard (Gauteng North) was named for the SPAR Fast5 team but injured herself on Monday in the Varsity Cup. Netball South Africa will be naming a replacement for Lombard later this week.

SPAR Invitation Team: Lenize Potgieter (Gauteng North), Melissa Myburgh (Gauteng North), Mari-Lena Joubert (Boland), Bhongolethu Ngebeni (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lauren-Lee Christians (Mangaung Metro), Izette Lubbe (Gauteng North), Sasha-Lee Petersen (Boland), Zandre Kruger (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Kefiloe Tsotetsi (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Shadine van der Merwe (Gauteng North), Rochelle Lawson (Western Province), Lentsa Motau


A TREAT IN STORE FOR NETBALL FANS

Pretoria, South Africa – There will be a feast of netball in Potchefstroom next month when the SPAR South African invitation team takes on the Australian Centre of Excellence in the SPAR International Series from Sunday October 12 to Saturday October 18.
The two teams, both drawn from their country’s under-23 players, will play three standard matches, on Sunday October 12, Tuesday October 14, and Saturday October 18. The Australian Centre of Excellence will also play two Fast5 matches against the SPAR South African Fast5 team, on Wednesday October 15 and Friday October 17.
The South African Fast5 team is the one that will travel to Auckland, New Zealand, for the Fast5 World Netball Series on November 8 and 9.
National coach Elize Kotze, who will be travelling to New Zealand with the team, has welcomed the opportunity to play a team from one of the world’s top netball countries.
“It is a great opportunity to play some really competitive netball ahead of the World Series,” said Kotze.
“South Africa came fourth out of six teams last year, and we are hoping to win a medal this time round. Fast5 is very unpredictable, and anything can happen. It will be very valuable for us to play the Australian Centre of Excellence and sharpen our skills ahead of the World Series.”
Kotze said the netball series in Potchefstroom was also important for the SPAR Proteas’ preparations for the World Championships in Sydney next year.
“The South African Invitation team will be made up of Under-23 players, many of whom were part of the Under-21 team that played in the last world youth championships. There are also a few players who are part of the national squad, and any exposure to top-class, international netball is very important ahead of the world championships. Some of the invitation team could well be challenging for places in the national squad, so I shall be watching them with great interest.”
Dorette Badenhorst, coach of the invitation team, said it was very important that young players should be exposed to international netball.
“A series like this gives us an opportunity to see who can stand up to the pressure of international netball,” she said.
“Not all players are suited to netball at the top level and this series will help us to sort out which players are ready to step up.

Both South Africa and Australia will be announcing their teams early next week.


NETBALL TROPHY GOES BACK TO GAUTENG NORTH

Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North won the SPAR National Netball Championship for the fourth time in five years with a clinical 63-37 victory over Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) in the final at the Bellville Velodrome on Saturday.

The winning Gauteng North team (Behind: Riana Bezuidenhout (Manager), Faith Tumelo Mantjiu, Jeanie Steyn, Erin Burger, Melissa Myburgh, Shadine van der Merwe, Nthabiseng Mothutsi, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Jenny van Dyk (Coach). Front: Lenize Potgieter, Amanda Maynardt (Captain), Tshina Mdau, Mampho Tsotetsi and Lindie Lombaard), after beating Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 16, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Dr. Kenneth Kaunda were undefeated during the round robin phase of the tournament, but Dorette Badenhorst’s young team were no match for Jenny van Dyk’s experienced Gauteng North team, which boasts six former and current Proteas. The combination of goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit and goal attack Amanda Mynhardt proved too much for the North West goalshooter, Chante Steyn, who had been virtually impregnable during the tournament.
“Gauteng North are very experienced and they are particularly strong on the flying defence,” said Badenhorst.
“We had the wrong game plan for them and their experience was what counted. You don’t beat a team like Gauteng North twice in one week.”
Van Dyk said she was very proud of her players.
“They put in a solid performance today and what pleased me was the way the senior players supported the youngsters, like Lenize Potgieter and Tshina Mdau, and enabled them to play as we wanted them to,” said Van Dyk.
“Lenize is a world class shooter, whose shooting average was over 90% but she is only 19. When she was under pressure, Lindie Lombard stepped up to take the pressure off her.”
Although Dr. Kenneth Kaunda took the early lead, Gauteng North soon showed their dominance and led for the rest of the match. At halftime, they led 27-19, and they were 41-26 ahead after the third quarter. The Pretoria side stepped up another gear in the final quarter, outscoring the Potchefstroom side by 22 goals to 11.
Boland finished third on the table, followed by last year’s champions, Mangaung Metro (Free State).
Boland B won the B section, beating Gauteng North B 44-38. Western Province were third, followed by Gert Sibande, from Mpumalanga.
The C-section was won by Uthungulu, from Richards Bay, who beat KwaZulu Natal rivals Ethekwini. The Uthungulu players shrieked and danced with joy when they won their final, as if to prove that the SPAR National Championships are not just about the elite players.
Lenize Potgieter was named player of the tournament and most accurate shooter, Zandre Kruger of Kenneth Kaunda won the best defender award, and Faith Mantjiu of Gauteng North was named best centre court player.
A 31-member national training squad was named after the tournament, as Netball South Africa gears up for the world championships in Sydney, Australia, in 2015.
SPAR National squad: Mari-Lena Joubert, Juline Rossouw, Sashe-Lee Petersen (Boland), Nosi Goda (Buffalo City), Elsje du Plessis, Bhongeletu Nqubeni, Lensa Motau, Zandre Kruger, Kifiloe Tsotetsi, Nadia Uys, Chante Steyn (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Faith Mantjiu, Erin Burger, Shadine van der Merwe, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North), Lauren-Lee Christians, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Maryke Holtzhausen, (Mangaung Metro), Zanele Vimbela, Zanele Mdodana (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu (Umgungundlovu), Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Thuli Qegu (Ekurhuleni).


KOTZE DELIGHTED WITH STANDARD OF PLAY AT THE SPAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Cape Town, South Africa – SPAR National Netball coach Elize Kotze was delighted with the standard of play at the national championships, which ended in Cape Town on Saturday, with Gauteng North beating Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) 63-37 in the final.
“It has been a fantastic tournament and I was very pleased to see the performance of senior players and also to see how many young players are coming through,” Kotze said.

SPAR Proteas Coach Elize Kotze addresses the media during finals day of the SPAR National Netball Championships played at the Velodrome Bellville in Cape Town on Saturday, 16 August 2014.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


She said there were 11 months left before the world championships in Sydney next year, and the squad announced after the tournament gave her plenty to work with as she prepared for the next major challenge.
“Several former Proteas, like Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit and Lindie Lombard, who didn’t go to the Commonwealth Games for various reasons, showed that they are still hungry for play for the Proteas, and I am delighted that they are back in the squad.
“Amanda and Vanes-Mari worked brilliantly together in the final to control Chante Steyn, who is a solid presence in the circle, and I can see them doing that against a team like Jamaica, who play a very physical form of netball.”
Kotze said she wanted to take the 12 best players in South Africa to the World Cup, and there was plenty of depth in all positions, so she had room to mix and match.
“When we go to Sydney, I need to know that the players on the bench are as strong as the seven players on the court,” she said.
She had special praise for some of the younger players, such as Kifiloe Tsotetsi, the goalkeeper from Kenneth Kaunda, 19-year-old Lenize Potgieter, the Gauteng North goalshooter, and the two young Gauteng North centre court players, Faith Mantjiu and Tshina Mdau.
“They are all very exciting players, and they are definitely stars of the future,” said Kotze.
The 31-member squad announced after the tournament will attend several training camps over the next few months, before being reduced to a squad of 15 next year.
“They will all be given training programmes, and the players who work the hardest will be the ones who will make the cut,” she said.

SPAR National squad: Mari-Lena Joubert, Juline Rossouw, Sashe-Lee Petersen (Boland), Nosi Goda (Buffalo City), Elsje du Plessis, Bhongeletu Ngubeni, Lensa Motau, Zandre Kruger, Kifiloe Tsotetsi, Nadia Uys, Chante Steyn (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Faith Mantjiu, Erin Burger, Shadine van der Merwe, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North), Lauren-Lee Christians, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Maryke Holtzhausen, (Mangaung Metro), Zanele Vimbela, Zanele Mdodana (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu (Umgungundlovu), Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Thuli Qegu (Ekurhuleni).


GAUTENG NORTH AND DR KENNETH KAUNDA TEAM TO MEET IN FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa – Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) and Gauteng North breezed into the final of the SPAR National Netball Championships with comfortable wins in their last two round robin matches on Friday.

Mandy Hermanus of Dr Kenneth Kaunda on the attack with Rochelle Lawson of Western Province defending during day 5 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 15, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Dorette Badenhorst’s youthful Kenneth Kaunda team sailed through the tournament to reach their first final since 2007, when they were runners-up. On Friday, they beat defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) 61-38 and Western Province 39-27.
Gauteng North, who finished second last year, beat Buffalo City 57-32 and Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 75-27. Their march to the final was temporarily halted by the North West team on Wednesday, but they shrugged off the loss and won all their other games. Coach Jenny van Dyk used the opportunity against the weaker teams to try out different combinations, including playing goalkeeper Vanes-Mari Du Toit as goal-shooter.
“We want to be prepared for anything, but when it comes down to it, I want my defenders to defend and my strikers to strike,” said Van Dyk.
In 2013 Gauteng North were unbeaten until the final, when they went down to Mangaung Metro and Van Dyk said they would use the experience of last year to prepare for Saturday’s final.
“We know what it feels like to lose a final and we don’t want to feel that way again. We also have a score to settle with Dr Kenneth Kaunda. But it’s a new game tomorrow, and it will be different.”
She said it was important in a final to do the basics perfectly.
“The more you stick to the basics, the better you play,” she said.
“We had an opportunity to put things right after losing to Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and we have a lot of experience in playing and winning finals. It’s going to be a fantastic final.”
Gauteng North won in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“It’s great to be in a final,” said Badenhorst, whose team finished in third place for the last three years.
“I’m very proud of the way the girls have played this week, and I am very happy that we haven’t lost a match so far. But tomorrow is a new game, and you can’t rely on anything that happened this week.
“I believe the team that wants it most and uses its opportunities best will win tomorrow.”
In other matches on Friday, Western Province beat Gauteng West 51-38, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Frances Baard 53-43, Boland beat Umgungundlovu 66-39 and Nelson Mandela Bay 49-29, Buffalo City beat Gauteng West 50-39 and Mangaung defeated Umgungundlovu 60-38.
Boland finished in third position, with Mangaung, who were without their three Proteas players, fourth.


GAUTENG NORTH AND NORTH WEST ON TRACK FOR THE FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North picked themselves up after their shock defeat to Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) with two decisive victories on the fourth day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Thursday.

Tshina Mdau of Gauteng North in action against Umgungundlovu during day 4 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 14, 2014 in Cape Town.

Zante Campher of Dr Kenneth Kaunda in action against Frances Baard during day 4 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 14, 2014 in Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


They thumped Umgungundlovu 75-26 in the morning, and then handed defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) their second defeat, beating them 74-44, to continue their march to the final on Saturday. Barring major upsets, the final is likely to be between Gauteng North and Kenneth Kaunda.
“We didn’t want to feel like we did after losing yesterday,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt.
“We talked long and hard about where we went wrong, and we knew that we had to bring extra energy to the court today.”
“We’ve got our campaign back on track again,” said coach Jenny van Dyk.
“I told the players that playing in the final is not a right but a privilege that has to be earned. I was happy with the way they played today, but we still have two games to go and we can’t lose focus now.”
“It looks as if we will play Kenneth Kaunda in the final, and that would suit us, because we have a score to settle.”
Gauteng North were dominant throughout the match, with speed, accuracy, slick passes and good understanding among the players. The Free State shooters were generally accurate, but were not given enough ball in the circle. At halftime, Gauteng North led 32-20, and stretched their lead still further in the third quarter. In the final quarter, Van Dyk made a number of changes and the Free State players fought back hard, losing the quarter by just three goals. But it was too little, too late and the champions now face the probability of not reaching the final.
“We’re very disappointed, but bad decision-making cost us the game,” said Mangaung Metro captain Lauren-Lee Christians.
“We don’t have much chance of making the final, so now we have to set new goals and focus on finishing third.”
Mangaung won their other match, beating Buffalo City 61-36.
Kenneth Kaunda retained their unbeaten record, beating Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 63-28 and Buffalo City 53-25. They play Mangaung Metro and Western Province in their final games, and on current form should have no difficulty disposing of them.
Nelson Mandela Bay notched up two wins, beating Western Province 38-30 and Umgungundlovu 42-39, while Gauteng West got their first win with a narrow 59-57 victory over Frances Baard. In a provincial derby, Boland beat neighbours Western Cape 33-28. Earlier, they defeated Gauteng West by 67 goals to 21.


YOUNG NORTH WEST TEAM SHOCKS GAUTENG NORTH

Cape Town, South Africa – The youngsters from Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) brought star-studded Gauteng North up short on Wednesday when they beat the tournament favourites 56-45 at the SPAR National Championships at the Bellville Velodrome.
The North West side is now the only unbeaten team in the A division.

Ruzel Vorster of Dr Kenneth Kaunda in action against Gauteng West during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 13, 2014 in Cape Town.
dkk34a.jpg - Lentsa Motau of Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Right) and Bibalwa Sizani of Gauteng West compete for the ball during day 3 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 13, 2014 in Cape Town.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Dr Kenneth Kaunda took the lead from the start and never relinquished it. Chante Steyn had an outstanding game as goal-shooter, and was the rock around which the team built its success, while at the other end, Kifiloe “Fifi” Tsotetsi gave her Protea teammates, Melissa Myburgh and Lenize Potgieter a hard time. At halftime, Dr Kenneth Kaunda were 27-22 ahead, but in the third quarter, they stretched the lead to as much as 11 goals. Gauteng North, boasting six current and former Proteas in their line-up, fought hard to come back, reducing the deficit to four goals at one stage, but the young players kept their composure, and in the final quarter they raced ahead of the more experienced team.
“It was all about the team and the team effort,” said Kenneth Kaunda coach Dorette Badenhorst.
“Our shooting was excellent and we were able to control possession. We knew Gauteng North were an excellent team, but we put them under pressure and we capitalised on their errors.
“Having Chante under the posts gave our goal attack, Elsunet du Plessis, the confidence to shoot knowing that Chante was there for the rebound.
“My team are there for each other, and to make each other look good on court,” said Badenhorst.
Gauteng North coach Jenny van Dyk was philosophical about the defeat.
“It was a good wake-up call for us,” she said.
“Rather lose now than in the final.”
“They wanted it more and we lacked energy and intensity. If we had played the way we played this morning, when we played Boland, we would have beaten them.”
In their earlier match, Gauteng North beat Boland, who on Tuesday upset defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) 62-39, while Kenneth Kaunda beat Gauteng West 72-28.
Mangaung beat Western Province 47-38, and Nelson Mandela Bay 51-38, but looked far from the all-conquering side they were a year ago. Nelson Mandela Bay also lost to their neighbours, Buffalo City, who beat them 38-36. They have yet to win a match. Umgungundlovu beat Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 51-59, and Gauteng West, also winless so far, 50-43. In the last two matches of the day, Boland beat Frances Baard 57-43, while Western Province beat Buffalo City 34-28.


NETBALL PLAYER PARALYSED AFTER TAXI ACCIDENT

Cape Town, South Africa – Netball South Africa (NSA) confirmed on Tuesday that the player who was seriously injured in a minibus taxi accident on Sunday is paralysed.
NSA chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said the player, whose family have asked that she not be named, had sustained a neck fracture and the specialist treating her said she would have very limited use of her arms only.
The specialist said the first priority would be to stabilize her neck.
Two other players are still in hospital in Worcester, but the rest have been discharged from hospital. The two who are still in hospital are expected to leave hospital by the end of the week. The Boland netball association is providing them with accommodation and counselling.
The team from Sedibeng in the Vaal Triangle was travelling to the SPAR National Netball Championships in Cape Town when the driver of their taxi lost control of the vehicle, which rolled down an embankment between De Doorns and Worcester.
The player who was paralyzed in the accident was transferred to the Tygerberg Hospital because of the severity of her injuries, and there are plans to move her to the spinal rehabilitation unit at Groote Schuur as soon as possible. She will later be taken back to her family in Johannesburg.
De la Guerre said NSA was doing everything it could to assist all the players, including bringing two members of the seriously injured player’s family to Cape Town. They would also arrange to fly the other players back to Johannesburg.
“We have spoken to lawyers, and will advise their netball association on the way ahead, including working with the Taxi Association and the Road Accident Fund,” she said.
“We have had a meeting with a representative of the Taxi Association, who have also offered their support.”
The Western Cape MEC and her Gauteng counterpart are both providing support and advice.


GAUTENG NORTH DOMINATE, WHILE BOLAND UPSET CHAMPIONS

Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North recorded the biggest victory of the 2014 SPAR National Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Tuesday, when they beat Gauteng West by a massive 89-16.

Melissa Myburgh of Gauteng North in action against Gauteng West during day 2 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 12, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Earlier in the day, Gauteng North showed they were the team to watch this year when they beat Nelson Mandela Bay 71-31.
During the match against Gauteng West, coach Jenny van Dyk had fun mixing and matching her players in different combinations. With an insurmountable lead, she experimented, playing goal defence Amanda Strydom at centre and Erin Burger at goal attack, until Burger sustained an ankle injury and was replaced by fellow Protea Melissa Myburgh.
“It is important to mix things up from time to time,” said Van Dyk.
“The players need to be able to think on their feet and make decisions.”
On the other hand, defending champions Mangaung Metro had a bad day at the office. They had to come from behind to beat Gauteng West 65-44, after trailing 26-27 at halftime, and then lost 37-42 to Boland in their later match.
“We made some silly mistakes and lost too many balls,” admitted Mangaung captain Lauren-Lee Christians.
“But we have many more games to play and one loss doesn’t mean the end.”
Boland captain Leanie Kleynhans-Cornelissen said their victory was the result of hard work.
“We have been building our squad for a number of years, and we are now reaping the benefits. We knew we would have to work hard and that the team that worked hardest would win,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Boland beat Buffalo City 54-41.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) also had a good day, beating Umgungundlovu 56-35 in the morning and then beating Nelson Mandela Bay 43-28.
In their earlier match, they kept the pressure up throughout, increasing their lead in every quarter. In the third quarter, they turned the screws, outscoring Umgungundlovu by 18 goals to six and 14 goals to nine in the final quarter.
Against the Eastern Cape team, Boland got an early lead, and were 21-13 ahead at halftime. Once again, it was in the third quarter that they forged ahead, with 16 goals to five. However, Nelson Mandela Bay came back strongly in the last 15 minutes, scoring 10 goals to Boland’s six.
Coach Dorette Badenhorst said while she was happy with the results, she knew that there was still a lot of work to do.
“We have a very young team, and they need to learn to work as a team, take responsibility on court, and trust one another. They need to keep the ball in hand more consistently and avoid sloppy passes. They also sometimes make bad decisions, and we need to work on that.”
In the other match on Tuesday, Western Province beat Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 53-27.


KOTZE UPBEAT DESPITE COMMONWEALTH GAMES DISAPPOINTMENT

Cape Town, South Africa – SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze remains upbeat about South Africa’s prospects at the world championships in Singapore next year, despite the disappointment of finishing sixth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Speaking on the opening day of the SPAR National Championships in Cape Town on Monday, Kotze said her goal had been to reach the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games.

SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze address the media at the SPAR National Netball Championships held at the Velodrome Bellville in Cape Town on Monday, 11 August 2014.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

“We were playing the best netball teams in the world, and we believed we could challenge for a medal,” she said.
“I still believe we can do it at the world championships next year. We have beaten England and Jamaica in the past, and I am very positive we can do it again.
“We will have to plan very carefully between now and the world championships and make sure that we have the right players, the right mental attitude and the physicality to compete with the top teams.”
Kotze said the team had learned a great deal from the experience and would have a better idea of how to tackle the top teams in Sydney.
“We will select a squad of 25 players to prepare for Sydney, and this will be reduced to 15 early next year. Ideally, I would like them to be compensated for the loss of income so that I can work with them fulltime for two months before the world championships so we develop new tactics and work out how to counter the top teams.
“We also need to play against at least two of the top four countries before we go to Sydney, to hone our skills. If we are to compete against professionals, we need to become professional as well.”
Five members of the team that went to Glasgow have been forced to miss the SPAR National Championships because they have no more leave. Kotze said she would ask Netball South Africa compromise on its ruling that players should take part in the SPAR National Championships to be eligible for national selection.
“Those five players are among our very best, and we need them to be part of the squad,” she said.
The five players are Maryke Holtzhausen, Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert, Zanele Mdodana and Chrisna van Zyl.
Kotze said the selectors would be on the lookout for rising stars.
“There is always room for new talent in the team,” she said.


NETBALL PLAYER IN SERIOUS CONDITION AFTER TAXI ACCIDENT

The players were travelling to Cape Town for the Spar national netball championships when the driver of their minibus taxi lost control of the vehicle, which rolled down an embankment.
Six players and management staff are still in hospital in Worcester, and five have been discharged after being treated for cuts and bruises.
Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa said the player who was transferred to Tygerberg had sustained a very serious neck injury.
“She said she couldn’t feel anything, but she was very positive when we visited her this morning,” said Mthethwa.
“The doctor treating her said the first priority was to stabilize her neck. A decision will be taken later on whether to operate,” she said.
The player’s family has requested that she not be named at this stage.
Mthethwa said NSA would remain in close contact with the players and would do everything possible to provide support for them. There are plans to bring the seriously injured player’s family to Cape Town to be with her.


LAST YEAR’S NETBALL FINALISTS OFF TO A GOOD START

Cape Town, South Africa – The 2013 finalists, Mangaung and Gauteng North, both got their 2014 campaigns off to a good start at the SPAR National Netball championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Monday with decisive victories in their opening matches.

Opening the 2014 SPAR National netball Championships are from L-R; Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Professor Norma-French Mbombo and Mimi Mthethwa, President of Netball South Africa.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Defending champions Mangaung (formerly Free State) beat Frances Baard (formerly Griqualand West) 61-32, despite being without their three Proteas, Maryke Holtzhausen, Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand. Coach Burta de Kock said the absence of the three top players would give younger players a chance to shine and enable the team to develop its strength.
Gauteng North are without only one Protea, veteran goal-shooter Chrisna van Zyl, and they romped home 48-31 against hosts Western Province. The Gauteng North side, which includes a number of current and former Proteas, has a wealth of top players, giving coach Jenny van Dyk the enviable task of having to decide who to leave out rather than who to play.
“We have a good balance of experience and younger, very energetic players,” said Van Dyk.
“The senior players know there are up-and-coming players breathing down their necks, so there’s healthy competition, but I’m also pleased to see the way the seniors are communicating and helping the younger players, who really love learning from them.”
Gauteng North dominated the game from start to finish. They were four goals ahead after the first quarter, and stretched their lead to seven goals at half-time. By the end of the third quarter, they were 11 goals ahead and in the final quarter, they outscored the hosts by 14 goals to eight.
“Our goal is to be consistent throughout the tournament. Last year, we played very well until the final, and then we fell apart in the second half. We realized then that we needed mental strength, so we have been working on that, and we are determined it won’t happen again,” said Van Dyk.
In other matches played on Monday, Frances Baard and Buffalo City (Border) drew 48-all, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Gauteng West 41-21, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) beat Boland 54-44 and Umgungundlovu thrashed Buffalo City 74-20.
The 2014 championships was opened in fine style by the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Professor Norma-French Mbombo. Minister Mbombo welcomed the 929 players and officials from 41 regions to Cape Town and said that the tournament was the largest women’s interprovincial played in the country by any sporting code and was specifically significant as it was played in Women’s Month.


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATE NATIONAL WOMEN’S MONTH

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s netball community will celebrate national women’s month at the next week, when players from around the country arrive for the annual SPAR National Netball Championships in Cape Town.
“We normally hold the championships in the same week as National Women’s Day on August 9, but because the national team only came back from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow early this week, we decided to delay the start of the Championships for a few days this year,” explained Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa.
“As the country’s biggest women’s sport, we think it is important for us to recognize the role played by the women who marched on the Union Buildings in 1956,” said Mthethwa.
“The national championships are an ideal opportunity for women to get together and share their love of their sport and to exchange ideas and experiences,” she said.
“Women’s sports have come a long way in the past 20 years, and support for women’s sports is growing all the time. Young girls can now dream of being given the recognition and support granted to men’s sports and of the possibility of making a career out of their sport.
“We believe sport – and netball in particular – plays a crucial role in helping South African women of all ages to stand tall.”
The SPAR National Netball Championships, which will be played at the Bellville Velodrome, start on Monday, with the final being played on Saturday August 16.


NETBALLERS TRAVEL TO CAPE TOWN FOR PREMIER EVENT

Pretoria, South Africa – Scores of netballers from around South Africa will gather at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town from August 11 for the annual SPAR National Championships.
Teams will be drawn from Netball South Africa’s (NSA) 47 affiliated districts, with the tournament divided into three divisions.
NSA President Mimi Mthethwa says the annual championships remain the premier event on the South African netball calendar, despite the success of the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup played in Pretoria earlier this year.
“The SPAR National Championships and the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup serve different purposes,” said Mthethwa.
“The Brutal Fruit Netball Cup is aimed at the elite players, whereas the National Championships have an important developmental role,” she said, “The SPAR National Championships give players at all levels the chance to play the game they love and to experience the enjoyment of being part of a group of women committed to their sport. Competition is just as fierce in the B and C divisions as it is in the A division, and the players love being able to test their ability against their peers.
“This will be a particularly important year for us as South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, and the championships, as always, will be played during women’s month,” Mthethwa continued.
“Women’s sports have come a long way in the past 20 years, and support for women’s sports is growing all the time. Young girls can now dream of being given the recognition and support granted to men’s sports and of the possibility of making a career out of their sport.”
Mangaung Metro (formerly Free State) are defending champions, having won the national title for the first time in more than 50 years when they came from behind to beat Gauteng North 39-36 in the final in Rustenburg last year. With the Free State Crinums winning the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup in June, the Free State team will be favorites to win again, but they can expect stiff competition from all teams in the A Section.
The SPAR National Netball Championships start on August 11 and the final will be played on August 16.


COMMONWEALTH GAMES - NETBALL SCHEDULE

COMMONWEALTH GAMES - NETBALL SCHEDULE
Date Competition Teams Broadcast time SuperSport Channel
Friday 25th July 2014 Pool Stage South Africa vs Trinidad & Tobago 15:45 - 17:30 SuperSport HD4 - 214
Saturday 26th July 2014 Pool Stage South Africa vs Barbados 15:50 - 17:50 SuperSport HD4 - 214
Sunday 27th July 2014 Pool Stage South Africa vs England 17:50 - 19:50 SuperSport HD5 - 215
Tuesday 29th July 2014 Pool Stage South Africa vs Wales 18:00 - 19:30 SuperSport HD4 - 214
Wednesday 30th July 2014 Pool Stage South Africa vs Australia 10:20 - 12:00 SuperSport HD7 - 217


UNDER CALDER, SPAR PROTEAS HAVE AN EYE FOR WORLD CUP GLORY

Johannesburg, South Africa – Over the last year South Africa has scaled the dizzy heights of international netball to the point where the national side, the SPAR Proteas, has attained an auspicious six place world-ranking.

SPAR Proteas Captain Maryka Holtzhausen, Dr Sherylle Calder and SPAR Proteas vice-captain Bongiwe Msomi during the press conference on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 at the Southern Sun Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


At the heart of that climb has been the world-renowned Sherylle Calder, a Cape Town-based doctor. Over the last year, the Proteas have been exposed to her unique work as a visual skills coach and proof of the team’s ever-improving performances was very much in evidence they recently whitewashed Scotland in a three-Test series. Prior to their SA tour, Scotland earned the reputation as giant-killers after wins over three higher world ranked countries.
Calder has already built up a reputation worldwide as a visual skills and performance specialist of note following the stellar achievements of her ‘clients’ who count among the crème de la crème of world sports; RWC winners England (2003) and South Africa (2007), elite (rugby) athletes such as Bryan Habana and Jonny Wilkinson, and golf Major winners Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, to name a few.
Wilkinson, the fly-half who scored the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final summed up the benefits of Calder’s work: “Visual performance training has added something extra to my game. By the time I receive the ball I have two or three options.”
“My work with the Proteas is geared to ensure that they will achieve maximum performance at next year’s World Cup (NWC) in Australia,” said Calder. “I have been working with them since last year.
“The objective is visual training to improve set skills which can be used on what the players see.”
Calder maintains that her unique training allows the body to perform at its best because of what the player sees.
Given the huge demand for her services worldwide - next week she’s off to work with Els ahead of next month’s Open at Royal Liverpool, Calder cannot be a spectator at all the Proteas’ matches and she relies on recordings to study their performances.
“The netballers have responded well to the training and the challenge is to take their skills to a higher level,” said Calder, adding that over time the visual training will enhance the development of high-level skills progressively.”
Netball players coming through the ranks in South Africa are not exposed to anything like Calder’s training and as a result the development of their skills awareness and instinct is stunted.


BLOOMING GOOD SHOW A BOOST FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Cape Town, South Africa – The euphoria of whitewashing the ever-improving Scotland Thistles will not cloud the SPAR Proteas’ realization that they need to raise the bar if they want to be classed in international netball circles as serious medal contenders at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

Chrisna Van Zyl (left) and Erin Burger (right) both from South Africa celebrates after winning 3-0 against Scotland in the SPAR Challenge netball test series at Bellville Velodrome on Saturday, 21 June 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.

SPAR Proteas vice-captain Bongiwe Msomi in action during the 3rd test between South Africa and Scotland at Bellville Velodrome on Saturday, 21 June 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The South Africans’ series win meant that they stepped up the International Netball Federation (INF) world standings from sixth to fifth position behind Jamaica, England, Australia and pace-setters New Zealand. At the Games, where 12 countries will be competing, South Africa has been drawn in Pool B along with England, Australia, Trinidad &Tobago, Wales and Barbados.
Scotland will campaign in Pool A where their rivals will be New Zealand, Malawi, Jamaica, Northern Ireland and St Lucia.
Speaking after Saturday’s third Test in Bellville, Proteas head coach Elize Kotzé said the three Tests over as many days help her identify the areas her side needs to work on in the run-up to the Games.
“We now have a good idea of what we need to do in training before we start playing in Glasgow. We were very well tested by a Scotland side that showed improvement every time they played,” said Kotzé. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the squad to take to court and test our combinations. I’m happy with the way the newcomers came through the matches and they all did very well.”
The back-to-back wins over three consecutive days have instilled a fresh bout of confidence in the Proteas’ ranks. It was equally morale-boosting because the 12th world ranked Thistles has already defeated South Africa’s Pool B competitors Trinidad &Tobago and Wales earlier this year.
“Going into the Games our confidence will be right up there,” said Kotzé. “We started off perhaps slower than we would have liked but then we were made to work much harder as the matches went by. It was a wonderful test of character and I was pleased with the way the Proteas showed fighting spirit.
“We’re excited with the challenge the Games will throw up and we’ll be well prepared.”
Kotze used the three Tests to try key players in a number of roles and she felt that the outcome was that the team now has more selection options at the Games. She added that the fierce competition over the three days has brought about a new resolve in the national squad to lift their playing standards.
When the Scottish contingent arrived in South Africa a few days ago, there was always a hint that the Thistles were a better side than their 12th world ranking would suggest, more so after their giant-killing wins over higher ranked countries like Wales (8), Trinidad & Tobago (10) and Northern Ireland (11).
Their coach New Zealand-born Gail Parata may have been at the receiving end of three defeats but she always felt that the reverses would stand her side in good stead for future matches on the international stages. She was highly encouraged by the manner in which her charges managed to close the gap with South Africa as the three Tests progressed.
“We have to say the South Africans have an amazing team and I’m thrilled that my team showed improvement every time we were up against them,” said Parata. “There is still so much of a gap between us (SA and Scotland) but we showed that we are it. We played well at times but against South Africa you need to play well all the time.”
Parata said once the teams have arrived in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games she will look to round off the Thistles’ training by playing a friendly against the SPAR Proteas just ahead of the start of the event.


SPAR PROTEAS TOO PRICKLY FOR THISTLES WITH WHITEWASH SERIES WIN

Cape Town, South Africa – The SPAR Proteas wielded the whitewash brush to good effect as they ran out 46-33 third Test winners over Scotland’s Thistles at the Bellville Velodrome, in Cape Town, on Saturday afternoon.

Team South Africa celebrates after winning the SPAR Challenge netball test series between South Africa and Scotland at Bellville Velodrome on June 21, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. From L-R: Front (Adele Niemand, Maryka Holtzhausen, Precious Mthembu, Bongi Msomi, Zanele Mdodana) Back (Phumza Maweni, Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Chrisna van Zyl, Erin Burger, Kefiloe Tsotetsi and Karla Mostert)
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


With earlier 56-29 and 41-25 wins from the first two Tests under their belts, the Proteas will be off to next month’s Commonwealth Games with loads of confidence in their ranks.
Despite the 3-0 series defeat, the Thistles improved with every outing and they provided the Proteas with a great opportunity to work on areas of their game that needed attention.
With the likelihood of a series whitewash at the back of their minds, the Proteas started off nervously and that saw them trail 1-2 after only three minutes play.
This served as a wake-up call for the Proteas who responded with superb intensity as their silky skills came to the fore and in the space of six minutes they halted the Thistles’ charge by running up a 7-4 lead to a rapturous applause from the fans.
As play moved towards the end of the first quarter, the frenetic playing patterns gave way to a more cautious approach on both sides. During this phase of play, Scotland were the more prolific scorers as their moves proved the more penetrative and surprisingly they saw the quarter out in relative comfort with a 11-9 lead.
Another tense start by the Proteas who resumed with two line-up changes made for a slowish fight-back, which needed some three minutes play for them to draw level at 12-all as the local fans roared their delight.
A two-minute time-out midway through this quarter after an injury to Thistles captain Lesley MacDonald gave the two coaches a chance for animated pep talks and when play continued the teams upped the tempo.
This made for action which continued in to-and-from fashion and the scoreboard seesawed as the ferocious action, littered with turn-overs, ahead of the halftime break saw the Proteas regain the lead with a slender 20-19 lead.
This second-quarter display by the Thistles was possibly their best quarter performance and although they surrendered the lead, they still outscored their higher world-ranked opponents by 10 goals to 9.
The Proteas were far more assured and confident under the post when play resumed. It was great reward for vastly improved inter-passing which caused the Thistles to lose their markers.
It also helped the Proteas to play with less anxiety and they made their efforts count as they raced ahead 26-21 with nine minutes play left in this quarter.
The rising score line impacted on the Proteas’ momentum as it gathered pace and the Thistles were left chasing the match.
Their third-quarter superiority in all phases of play saw the Proteas pull away with a massive 10-goal lead at 34-24.
When the final quarter’s play resumed, the Proteas were not allowed to dominate possession as the Thistles managed close down the spaces in the opening minutes.
However, they were never able to cope with the Proteas’ unrelenting pressure although they slowed down the victory march with fierce defence before the South Africans signed off with a 46-33 triumph.


SPAR PROTEAS WRAP UP SERIES WIN WITHDASHING

Cape Town, South Africa – There was no stopping South Africa’s gallant SPAR Proteas as they wrapped a series win over Scotland’s Thistles with a 41-25 triumph in the second Test at the Bellville Velodrome, in Cape Town, on Friday night.
The Proteas recorded a 56-29 win in Thursday’s first Test and Friday night’s effort put the three-Test netball series beyond the visiting Thistles.

Maryka Holtzhause of South Africa shoots for goal with Hayley Mulheron defending during the 2nd test between South Africa and Scotland at Bellville Velodrome on June 20, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The final Test will be played on Saturday (start 3pm) at the same venue.
Both countries used the series to wrap up their preparations for their netball campaign at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
After their auspicious first Test win, it was important for the Proteas side to make their own statement of intent by maintaining their impressive form.
They did so in style as they snatched their first goal in under a minute but then their play became an incredibly scrappy affair with turnovers becoming more and more frequent. Scotland capitalized heavily and six minutes into the game they ran up a 6-4 lead.
The situation called for the Proteas to be more ball cautious and accurate in attack but the fight back became more complex as the Thistles varied their game somewhat.
The Proteas managed to wrest the initiative in midcourt and gradually gained the upper hand as the teams traded goal-for-goal and by the end of the first quarter the hosts were marginally ahead 9-8.
The first half of the second quarter was a comparatively low scoring affair for both sides mainly as a result of sporadic and injudicious passes that lead numerous turnovers.
Once the Proteas managed to close down space and force the Thistles to play backwards they started imposing themselves and enjoyed a strong passage of play which earned them a prolific scoring streak with six unanswered goals.
Scotland closed out the quarter strongly to stay in touch with the Proteas who managed a 19-15 halftime lead.
One of the stand-out players for the Proteas was new cap, the 20-year-old Lenise Potgieter, who was ruthless in the scoring circle and that accounted for the South Africa’s admirable 83% goal advantage at the break.
After the restart, the Proteas protected their spaces rather effectively and this helped to stifle tourists’ attacking intent. The turn-over count started going the Proteas’ way and four minutes into the third quarter they managed to open up a 23-19 lead.
The score sheet advance seemed to inject a greater sense of urgency in Proteas’ play and as they upped the tempo their pace proved too hard to contain.
By the time the third quarter ended the Proteas had managed to open a six-goal lead (26-20), which will prove to be a handy cushion for the final 15-minute flurry.
The 6th world-ranked Proteas did enough in the opening minutes of the final quarter to take the match away from their 12th world-ranked opponents and five minutes later the 26-20 score line jumped to 35-23, for a 12-goal margin.
In the dying minutes, the Proteas showed signs of good movement and fluent passing moves as the Thistles showed signs of wilting under the pressure.
The South Africa closed out the Test at 41-25 to wrap up the second Test and the series, with one Test to go.


GIANT-KILLERS SCOTLAND WILL FORCE SPAR PROTEAS TO ADAPT

Cape Town, South Africa – South Africa’s capacity to respond adequately to Scotland’s style of play will be the major challenge facing the SPAR Proteas in the three-Test netball series which starts on Thursday at the Bellville Velodrome.

From L-R: Lesley Macdonald (Scottish Thistles Captain), Gail Parata (Scottish Thistles Coach), Elize Kotze (SPAR Proteas Coach) and Maryka Holtzhausen (SPAR Proteas Captain) at the press conference held at the Southern Sun Cape Sun Hotel in Cape Town ahead of the SPAR Challenge, South Africa vs Scotland test series.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The national netball coach Elize Kotze said South Africa, the world No 6 side, have huge respect for the 12th world ranked Scottish Thistles after they defeated three higher world ranked sides in the past few months. Wales (8), Trinidad & Tobago (10) and Northern Ireland (11) have all perished at the vastly-improved Scottish outfit.
Last year, Scotland appointed former New Zealand netball star Gail Parata as the head coach for the Thistles and since then the side has gone from strength to strength.
Kotze said when she researched the Thistle the influence of the former Silver Ferns stalwart was apparent.
“This Scotland team has improved with every Test and one has started to see the hand of their New Zealand coach, especially when they’re up against higher world-ranked sides” said Kotze. “The biggest challenge facing us in this series is to adapt to whatever Scotland throws at us.”
The SPAR Proteas squad has called up three newcomers for the three-Test series but they will enjoy limited game time since the emphasis will be on winning the three matches.
“In the three Tests we’ll start out with the players that have already proved themselves because we want to focus on the detail of the game,” said Kotze. “We know what we’re up against in Scotland and we’ve had to adapt our style of defence for this phase of our preparation for the Commonwealth Games in just over weeks’ time. I’d like to try new combinations at some stage and our new caps have shown to be absolutely natural athletes.”
Parata said after the Thistles’ giant-killing acts in recent times, victory over South Africa would the “icing on the cake”. She said her squad was a mixture of youth and experience.
“We have had great preparation coming into this series and a victory over the Proteas would be the icing on the cake. We managed some great performances this year and South Africa offers just the kind of opposition that will help us in our quest in perfecting our game. We’ve got a good mixture of youth and experience,” said Parata.
The Scots defence has been brilliant at times this season and Parata said she enjoyed great input from the experienced players in the ranks.
“It’s not just all about my New Zealand input. I have taken what Scotland already has and tried to bring it altogether. After 14 years as a player, I love developing players and we now have this amazing chance in South Africa to grow our game,” said Parata.


KIWI-LEAD SCOTLAND OUT TO CUT BACK SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Scotland stand to benefit hugely from the three-Test netball series against hosts South Africa in Bellville, Cape Town, from 19-21 June.
The Scottish Thistles, as the country’s national netball team is known, are ranked 12th by the International Netball Federation, and like South Africa, will using the three Tests to round off preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, next month.
Scotland’s fortunes are nowadays guided by New Zealand-born coach Gail Parata, who was a stand-out player for New Zealand’s Silver Ferns a few years ago.
Parata said on Wednesday she was thrilled that the matches against the sixth world-ranked SPAR Proteas will be taking place, ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
“This is a huge opportunity for us (Scotland) in terms of preparing for the Commonwealth Games,” said Parata. “Considering the Proteas have a so much higher world-ranking than us, we know it is going to be tough. We’re so grateful to be playing matches against a classy side like South Africa. I have seen how the South Africans have improved over the last year or so.”
Since the start of the year Parata has engaged her side in several internationals and their results have allowed Scotland to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
“This year we have played against several teams ranked in the world top-10 and we’ve now managed to clinch a place in the 2015 World Cup in Sydney,” said Parata. “The matches against South Africa are an opportunity to keep improving because South Africa will field a high-calibre side. Scotland are under no illusions that we are in for three tough Tests.”
Parata and her coaching staff have managed their squad well in recent weeks, and unlike other northern hemisphere sides, have remained relatively injury-free. As a result their entire 12-man Commonwealth squad will be competing in Cape Town.
“We have been very lucky that all our leading players have not had injuries and we will be playing with our strongest team. It’s a great way for the squad to warm-up for the Commonwealth Games against really good opposition,” Parata said, adding that she is looking to tweak her side’s style of play.
“We don’t have the height that some of the other teams have and so we look to play a short, sharp type of game. It’s a challenge for us because teams that have height in their ranks look to get the ball in the air. I’m looking to keep our play unorthodox, and I’d Scotland to play the way the Aussies do.”
Parata paid tribute to Netball South Africa for the manner in which they managed to secure the three-Test series at such short notice.
“Netball South Africa was brilliant in the way they put the series together at such short notice. They have been really accommodating and we looking forward to playing a role in making the series in Cape Town a major success for both countries.”
Scotland has never beaten their South African counterparts in an international netball fixture.


SOUTH AFRICA VS SCOTLAND NETBALL ACTION ON SUPERSPORT

Johannesburg, South Africa – SuperSport will be broadcasting the forthcoming SPAR Challenge netball test series, South Africa vs Scotland live next week on consecutive days, from 19-21 June 2014.

The three test series will be played at the Velodrome in Bellville, Cape Town and a series win by the SPAR Proteas will put them up to number 5 on the world netball rankings.
The SPAR Challenge is an important preparation for team South Africa as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games in July and next year’s Netball World Championships in Australia.

South Africa have never lost to Scotland in a netball test series but Scotland are well prepared as hosts of the Commonwealth Games so the world number 12 outfit are expecting to give the SPAR Proteas a tough challenge in the Mother City.

BROADCAST DETAILS
Schedule Date Channel Time Sport Status Details
19-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 18:55 - 21:00 Netball
SA Netball Test 1st Test: South Africa v Scotland
20-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 08:00 - 09:30 Netball Highlights SA Netball Test 1st Test: South Africa v Scotland
20-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 18:55 - 21:00 Netball
SA Netball Test 2nd Test: South Africa v Scotland
21-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 08:00 - 09:30 Netball Highlights SA Netball Test 2nd Test: South Africa v Scotland
21-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 14:55 - 17:00 Netball
SA Netball Test 3rd Test: South Africa v Scotland
22-Jun-14 SuperSport Select SA 08:00 - 09:30 Netball Highlights SA Netball Test 3rd Test: South Africa v Scotland


PROTEAS TO TAKE ON SCOTLAND IN PREPARATION FOR COMMONWEALTH GAMES

Pretoria, South Africa – The success of the five-week Brutal Fruit Netball Cup will be put to the test later this month when the SPAR national netball team play a three-Test series against Scotland in Cape Town.
The Tests will be played at the Velodrome in Bellville on consecutive days, between June 19 and June 21.

SPAR Netball Proteas squad to face Scotland in the SPAR Challenge, South Africa vs Scotland was announced on Sunday by Netball South Africa. From L-R: Back – Elize Kotze (SPAR Proteas coach), Karla Mostert, Maryke Holtzhausen, Adele Niemand, Chrisna Van Zyl, Zanele Mdodana, Melissa Myburgh, Phumza Maweni, Kefiloe Tsotetsi. Front - Bongi Msomi, Precious Mthembu, Erin Burger and Lenise Potgieter.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“It is a very opportune time for us to play this series,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa.
“We have just finished the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup, and this series gives us a chance to see how the players have progressed. Also, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July our big focus for this year, we will be able to try out the team and see how prepared the players are for the challenge ahead of them.”

There are three new caps in the squad announced after the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup final on Sunday.
“The Scotland series is an ideal opportunity to expose young players to international netball,” said head coach of the SPAR national team, Elize Kotze.
“Lenise Potgieter is a very talented young player. She’s only 20, but she showed a great maturity during the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup, standing up against experienced defenders like Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand. She has an amazing reach, and she plays very like Irene van Dyk,” said Kotze.
“The other two newcomers are both defenders, Kefiloe “Fifi” Tsotetsi and Phumza Maweni. Phumza was outstanding for the Southern Stings, who won all their matches, and what I love about Fifi is that she trains every day against Chante Steyn at the Northern Flames, and that will help us when we meet those huge Jamaicans at the Commonwealth Games.”
Steyn, at 195 centimetres, was one of the tallest and most solid players in the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup.

The team to play against Scotland will to a large extent be the team that will represent South Africa at the Commonwealth Games.
Scotland are ranked 13th by the International Netball Federation, while South Africa are ranked sixth. The two teams are in different pools at the Commonwealth Games, with Scotland coming up against New Zealand, Jamaica, Malawi, Northern Ireland and St Lucia, while South Africa are grouped with Australia, England, Wales, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados.
“If we win all three Tests against Scotland, we will move up to fifth in the world rankings,” said Kotze.

SPAR Proteas squad: Zanele Mdodana, Chrisna van Zyl, Erin Burger, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Maryka Holtzhausen, Melissa Myburgh, Lenize Potgieter, Bongi Msomi, Precious Mthembu, Kefiloe Tsotetsi and
Phumza Maweni.

Tickets for the Scotland series are available at the door of the Velodrome. They cost R10 for children under 13, and R20 for people from 14 upwards.


SUCCESSFUL TRAINING CAMP FOR SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL SQUAD

Pretoria, South Africa – Head coach of the SPAR National Netball Team Elize Kotze believes the players are well on track in their preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
The squad took part in a training camp at the Tuks High Performance centre from 25-29 April and Kotze said it had been an ideal opportunity to monitor the progress of the players and the success of the training programmes they were all following. “We had a few injuries and a couple of players were laid low by flu and bronchitis, but it was an ideal opportunity to see how the younger players were shaping up against the more senior players,” said Kotze.

“I am happy with the progress of the squad. There are always things to work on, but everyone is very committed and they are sticking to their individual fitness programmes.

She said visual skills coach Dr Sherylle Calder had been working with the players to improve their reaction time. Calder is a world authority, and has been credited with helping England and South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2007, and golfer Ernie Els to win the British Open in 2012.

“Sherylle is a former Protea hockey player and she knows all about the pressure of international sport,” said Kotze. “We know that having her working with the team will give them an edge. I am also very happy that the whole medical support team is coming together and this will be valuable for us as we prepare for the Commonwealth Games.”

Kotze said she was also very excited about the Netball Premier League (NPL), which gets under way next month, because it meant the top players would be playing high-level netball for six weeks. “All the SPAR Proteas and all the squad members will be playing. They are spread around the ten NPL teams and so the standard of play will be high. We will watch them closely, and the team for the Commonwealth Games will be announced after the NPL final,” she said.

The team will play a three match series against Scotland in Cape Town in June in preparation for Glasgow.


NEW LAUREUS CELEBRITY SPORT AMBASSADOR PLEDGES TO EMPOWER THE YOUTH

Pretoria – Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa announced the inclusion of netball star, Zanele Mdodana, in their elite group of sports star ambassadors at a media conference held at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) head office today. Mdodana also participated in coaching youngsters from the Laureus ‘Sport for All’ programme in Atteridgeville, who were hosted by MBSA at their 2014 Employee Volunteer Week activities.

Zanele Mdodana confirms her commitment to youth development through sport, as the latest celebrity ambassador of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa. She is supported by Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Trust, and Ntambi Ravele, Laureus Trustee.

Zanele Mdodana shares her netball skills with a group of youngsters from the Laureus Sport for All project in Atteridgeville, who participated in the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Employee Volunteer Week.


Laureus has a long and distinguished history of using the power of sport to nurture the young South African leaders of tomorrow. Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa, says: “The passion and dedication of the Laureus ambassadors is a major driver of the success of our social upliftment programmes. We thank Zanele for accepting the nomination to join our ambassadors, and look forward to a long and successful association with her.”

Joining du Plessis at the media conference in welcoming Mdodana to the fold were fellow Laureus ambassadors mountaineer Deshun Deysel, former rugby international and radio talk show host John Robbie and paralympian Natalie du Toit.

Mdodana is a valued addition to the ambassador group and has established herself as one of the top notch sports coordinators at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Having played netball at the Commonwealth Games for the SPAR Proteas team, and in contention for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July this year, Zanele is a role model for girls in South Africa. Now one of the senior players in the team, Mdodana leads from the front and has been captain and vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas.

Mdodana has great influence with young people, thanks to her impressive achievements. She urges young girls to prioritise their education, keep participating in sport and to strive to achieve their dreams and goals.

It takes hard work to achieve anything worthwhile and you really need to persevere. It’s very important to get an education and I’d like to encourage every young person to make sure that they give their best in the classroom. This philosophy is something I will pursue as an Ambassador for Laureus,” she says.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa supports 15 sports-based community programmes nationally. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than R80 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than 78,000 young people.

Netball South Africa (@netball_sa; facebook.com/netballsa) president Mimi Mthethwa welcomed the accolade for Mdodana saying she deserved it for commitment and service to the national team over several years.

“Zanele is a wonderful role model and leader and will certainly appeal to sports people across boundaries. We are delighted that she has been chosen to be an ambassador for such a prestigious organisation and we know that she will fly the Netball SA flag high in carrying out her duties,” said Mthethwa. “Netball reaches every level of society and this award is an important recognition for all women in the sport that enriches so many lives every day.”

MBSA, as a caring corporate citizen with more than 60 years in South Africa, has been a long-term donor to Laureus South Africa. The company supports the Laureus “Sport for All” project in Tshwane (Atteridgeville), the Buffalo City Soccer School project in East London where the company has its production plant, as well as the Youth Empowerment through Sport (YES) programme.

MBSA Corporate Affairs Divisional manager, Mayur Bhana explains that the company shares the Laureus goal of inspiring the youth of South Africa. “Young people need role-models who can inspire them and show them the path to success. The Laureus ambassadors are uniquely placed to achieve this.” “Sport is a wonderful medium through which life-skills can be taught to young people,” he adds.

The longevity of MBSA’s support for Laureus attests to the worth of the initiative, and goes to the heart of the company’s philosophy of participating in community development schemes that make a sustainable and meaningful impact.


GLASGOW HERE WE COME

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is hard work ahead for the SPAR National Netball Team, who are gearing up to make their presence felt at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. Team management believe the SPAR Proteas have made enough progress since the 2010 Games in Delhi to be in a position to challenge for a medal.

Nadia Uys defends against Thuli Qegu at the SPAR Proteas squad camp held in Potchefstroom this past weekend.
Picture by: Mario van de Wall.


As part of their preparations for the Games, the SPAR Proteas will travel to Dubai in April for a Quad Series tournament against England, Jamaica and Malawi. “This will be excellent preparation for the Games,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director: Selection, Christine du Preez.

“England are ranked third, Jamaica fourth and Malawi fifth in the world, and we need to beat them to have a chance of claiming a medal. “We have beaten all of them in the past – in fact, we’ve beaten Malawi three times in a row – and this Quad Series will give us another opportunity to test ourselves against them. We know we can beat them all – we’ve done it before, and so we’ll approach the Quad Series with a very positive attitude,” she said.

Last year, NSA named a 35-member training squad to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. Members of the squad are all following rigorous training programmes and they will also attend a series of training camps. After the most recent training camp, held in Potchefstroom last weekend, players had to undergo a number of trials and skills assessments. “A few younger players impressed the selectors” said du Preez, “some of the older SPAR Proteas will have to work hard if they want to keep their positions in the team.”

The next training camp will be taking place from the 7th – 9th March, where the final squad will be selected.


SA TO FACE ZIMBABWE AFTER OPENING WIN

Port Elizabeth – 27 October 2013) SOUTH AFRICA will have to compete with a whole new ball game tomorrow when they face a confident and experienced Zimbabwe bolstered by their come-from-behind win over Zambia in the opening match of the Diamond Challenge international netball series in Port Elizabeth.

Lucy Here Of Zambia fights for the ball during the Diamond Challenge match between Zimbabwe and Zambia at Vodacom NMMU Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan)

Besta Mamyura of Zimbabwe shoots for goal during the Diamond Challenge match between Zimbabwe and Zambia at Vodacom NMMU Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Editorial supplied by Trevor Neethling / Newton PR and Communications


What started as a slow and steady affair turned into a pulsating second half as Zimbabwe clawed their way back in Quarter 4 to come from behind with a sterling performance to clinch a 39—35 win. They outscored Zambia 12 goals to six in the final 15 minutes to beat the team positioned five places higher than them on the international rankings at 20. Zimbabwe Goal Attack Mwangeyi Lazaro capped off sterling offensive performance to clinch the Vital Player of the Match award.

The Diamond Challenge, however, is not a ranking event and South Africa will feature an Invitational team consisting of only four members of the SPAR Proteas squad that beat a rampant England 39—37 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Tri-Nations on Friday.

In the match today Zimbabwe showed that they were here to prove a point as they dominated the opening exchanges scoring five unanswered goals before Zambia netted their first goal. As the quarter unfolded the Zambians started to find some rhythm and managed to go into the break just two points adrift at 9 — 7.

Zimbabwe continued that dominance in Quarter 2, racing ahead with three unanswered goals before Zambia found their first net. The trend continued and by half-time Zimbabwe had a comfortable 21—15 with Zambia having it all to do. But Zambia had other plans, changing their Wing Attack, Centre and Goal Defence and came back storming in the second part of the Quarter 3 to lead 29—27 going into the final quarter. Zimbabwe though were the more composed outfit towards the end ending off a series of sleek interchanges to take it by 4 points and set up an interesting game against South Africa.

South Africa’s Invitational tam will have to get used to the slower, more patient build-up of their northern neighbours especially as the pace of their recent opposition England and Trinidad and Tobago has been much faster and physical. Coach Elize Kotze has roped in a number of players from the U/21 team which placed fifth at the World Youth Netball Championships in Glascow in August for the series which ends on Wednesday. Included in the team is hotshot Eastern Province Goal Shooters Dumisani Chauke, and Colleen Ferreira.

Kotze believes the series will provide ideal preparation for her team in facing African opposition as well as much-needed game time.

“We have a lovely bunch of young players here in this series and this tournament is just the opportunity they need to make it into the SPAR Proteas team. It also provides the depth we need at international level,” she said. “The players are motivated and raring to go and prove themselves as worthy candidates for the SPAR Proteas.”


SPAR PROTEAS CRACK THIRD RANKED ENGLAND

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – In an incredible spectacle of international netball, the SPAR Proteas cracked third ranked England in the final match of the tri-nations being played in Port Elizabeth. In an almost goal for goal game, the SPAR Proteas fought their way into the lead, to end the game 39-37.

The SPAR Proteas winning team
Back (l-r): Cobus Breytenbach (physio); Lindie Lombard; Karla Mostert; Aneret Viljoen; Maryka Holtzhausen (captain); Chrisna Bootha; Melissa Myburgh; Adele Viljoen; Elize Kotze (coach).
Front (l-r): Nceba Hene (Biokineticist); Simnikiwe Mdaka; Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain); Precious Mthembu; Zanele Mdodana

SPAR Protea Simnikiwe Mdaka leaps for the ball against England’s Sara Bayman.

Adele Niemand, player of the match, against England’s Pamela Cookey.
Pictures by: Richard Huggard


Going into tonight’s game to give it all they had, the SPAR Proteas came out fighting. With the loud and encouraging support of the South African crowd, the determined team in green and gold did their country proud.

Both teams started strong, with solid combinations in defence and attack. England’s starting line-up included the feisty Serena Guthrie on centre, supported by the ruthless Stacey Francis on goal defence. However, as much as the South African side wasn’t rattled and held their ground, they were let down by some loose passes, and a lack of confidence under the posts, and trailed 8-10 to England at the end of the first quarter.

Simnikiwe Mdaka replaced Lindie Lombard on wing attack in the second quarter to bring in some more speed, and Elize made no further changes to her team for the rest of the game. On the other hand, as the game progressed and the intensity increased; England coach Ana Mayes made several. Mdaka made a visible difference to the SPAR Proteas drive into their goal circle, and the defence combination of Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand was unbreakable. Niemand had a phenomenal game, and was later named ‘Vital’ Player of the Match. After a number of intercepts, South Africa managed to narrow the gap to end half time only one goal behind at 19-18.

It was the second half of the game that showed the true fight of the South African team. Despite allowing England to get ahead by a four goal lead within the first two minutes, the SPAR Proteas showed resilience and control. The England side made a few unforced errors and the South African side managed to capitalise on them to push themselves into the lead for the first time in the game. The whistle blew with South Africa ahead by 31 goals to England’s 30.

It was in the fourth quarter that the England side looked rattled for the first time in the series. The SPAR Proteas ran ahead with a four goal lead as Kadeen Corbin missed a few shots, forcing Mayes to replace her with Rachel Dunn. Some back and forth play and the goal difference squeezed tighter, then finally the clock stopped and the SPAR Proteas had defeated netball powerhouse 39-37, to win the series.

“I am a very proud coach tonight” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze after the game. “We worked as a unit for the first time tonight and these players have showed that they are ready to step up to the next level.” “It was a true test of character, and they have proved themselves as role models for young girls in the country.”

The Tri-Nations will be followed by the Diamond Challenge, also taking place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth. The first match will be played on Sunday 27th October 2011.


ENGLAND PROVE TOO STRONG FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – In a great display of international netball, the SPAR Proteas went head to head against netball powerhouse England on Wednesday night. Despite putting in a strong effort, and leading in the early stages of the game, the English side proved too strong for the South Africans, and ended the game with 49 goals to 39.

SPAR Protea Adele Niemand reaches for the ball against England’s Rachel Dunn.

England’s ferocious Serena Guthrie runs away with the ball, against South Africa’s Precious Mthembu and Bongi Msomi. Serena was praised for her performance by coach Ana Mayes after the match.
Pictures by: Iky Plakonouris


Cementing the combinations seen in last night’s match, the SPAR Proteas took to the court as a confident unit. The first 15minutes of the game were fast, fiery and intense. The South African attack, which has been worked on by Dr Elsje Jordaan looked smooth and controlled as the ball was driven up to goal shooter Chrisna Bootha. At one stage the SPAR Proteas led the game, and it was evident that they were more confident in the goal circle as their play was riskier, and it worked for them. England cranked up the power towards the end of the 15minutes and ended the first quarter with a 13-12 lead.

It was the second quarter that let the SPAR Proteas down, as the match got a bit scrappy from both sides. Both teams made a few unforced errors and the South African shooters missed a number of shots at goal, which gave the England side the gap to run away with the lead. The South African defence combination of Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert and Precious Mthembu was as strong as ever, but the attack lacked accuracy in driving the ball into the goal circle and completing the shot. England led at half time 25-18.

England were first to score off their centre in the third quarter and used their lead to run ahead. Eboni Beckford-Chambers had a brilliant game, and put a lot of pressure on the South African attack. Later in that quarter the SPAR Proteas came back fighting and despite being 10 goals down, managed to claw their way back to a three-goal difference.

Only being three goals down in the start of the final quarter should have given the South African side the opportunity they needed, but the England side was just too strong. Ana Mayes made a number of changes to her team, which included moving Jade Clarke from wing defence to centre. Jade contributed to England’s strong attack, and was awarded player of the match.

“I am obviously disappointed” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze after the game. “No one likes losing, and we came back so strong in the third quarter. We had more than enough ball turnovers by our defenders to keep us in a competitive game.” “But we are improving each time, and are not down and out. Tomorrow we will take time to recoup and refocus.”

England coach Ana Mayes said that she was happy with the win; “I am pleased with the win, but it was a competitive game. South Africa is very good at being open in play which put pressure on our shoulders.” President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa said that she was impressed by the SPAR Proteas performance; “we are visibly improving. This is a low score compared to previous matches, so I am happy that we improve step by step.”

England will take on Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday at 17h30. The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport channel 229.


A ROUGH AND TUMBLE MATCH KICKS OFF THE TEST SERIES

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – The netball tri-nations taking place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth started off with a rough and tumble match between the SPAR Proteas and Trinidad and Tobago.

Lindie Lombard, Player of the Match, takes a shot at goal during the first test match of the Tri-Nations in Port Elizabeth.

Hometown hero, Zanele Mdodana in action against Trindad and Tobago in the Tri-Nations.
Images by: Michael Sheehan


Off to a very slow start, the SPAR Proteas struggled to get into a rhythm, which could be contributed to the heavily physical style of play from the Caribbean team. However, they were able to find some good spaces between the Trinidad and Tobago team, who preferred to play a more static and direct game. South Africa’s defence were on top form, as the combination of Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand created a number of increased opportunities due to some great intercepts. The SPAR Proteas led at the end of the first quarter by 11 goals to 7.

Play in the second quarter started to pick up some speed, but the rhythm was lost again as Chrisna Bootha had to leave the court due to injury from contact by her opponent goal keeper Alicia Liverpool. South Africa then scored a few consecutive goals to widen the goal difference, before Melissa Myburgh, Bootha’s substitute, was thrown to the ground and had to be taken off by stretcher, forcing coach Elize Kotze to try out her last resort shooting combinations. The young Lindie Lombard took up role as shooter, whilst Bongiwe Msomi moved to wing attack and Simnikiwe Mdaka came back on as centre. The half time whistle blew with the SPAR Proteas leading 25-15.

With big boots to fill, Lindie Lombard stepped up to the plate, holding her own in the goal circle, which ultimately scored her the prize of ‘player of the match’. “Lindie maintained her ground, with her feet firmly in the circle” said Kotze after the match. Relying on the support of goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen who had some brilliant long shots; the attack combinations started to gain confidence, passing balls smoothly down the line. The second half of the game gained intensity as the clock ticked and the Trinidad and Tobago team picked up the pace, making a number of errors. By the end of the final whistle the SPAR Proteas had outscored Trinidad and Tobago by 47 goals to 30.

“Losing both our shooters so early in the game threw us off” said Elize Kotze after the match, “and I am a bit worried about our intensity, but we have seen which combinations will work for us to start with tomorrow and that has been very helpful.”

The SPAR Proteas will take on England in Wednesday’s game, at 17h30. The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport Channel 229.


SPAR PROTEAS ARE UP FOR THE CHALLENGE

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Looking ahead to the first match of the Tri-Nations being played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth this week, the SPAR Proteas have said that they are ready for the challenge.

The SPAR Proteas team ready to take on the challenge at the Tri-Nations.
Back (l-r): Simnikiwe Mdaka, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Karla Mostert, Melissa Myburgh, Chrisna Bootha, Aneret Viljoen, Zanele Mdodana.
Front (l-r): Lindie Lombard, Bongiwe Msomi (Vice-Captain), Adele Niemand, Precious Mthembu
Picture by: Michael Shehaan / Netball South Africa


Learning from the experience recently gained against England in the three test series in September, the SPAR Proteas are looking forward to putting their training to the test against Trinidad and Tobago, and especially England this week.

“The players are excited and focused” said Coach Elize Kotze on Monday. “We learnt valuable lessons playing against England a few weeks ago and we have patched up our mistakes. The players are looking forward to taking to the court with the support of playing on home ground.”

Focusing on the task at hand, the SPAR Proteas are concentrating on their first match and will look at each game individually, as their two opponents have two very different styles of play. Coach Kotze says that it is important that the Proteas adapt to each style before taking to court. “The Caribbean approach is a very free type of netball. They like to play a more direct game with aerial balls and are also very physical. They play a hard game, and you never quite know what to expect.”

The South African national netball team has had a few good practise sessions, and Captain Maryka Holtzhausen said that her team were ready to tackle the week head on. “We’ve had some great training sessions. Our defence is looking strong, and having Dr Elsje Jordaan here to assist in coaching us on attack has brought a fresh new pair of eyes to our game.”

The SPAR Proteas will open the Tri-Nations with the first match against Trinidad and Tobago at 17h30 on Tuesday. All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport Select SA, Channel 229.


TWO TOP PLAYERS BACK IN SPAR PROTEAS TEAM

Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Two of South Africa’s most experienced players return to the SPAR national netball team for the Tri-nations series against England and Trinidad and Tobago in Port Elizabeth next week.

Chrisna Bootha in action against Malawi in the 2012 Diamond Challenge, played at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

Zanele Mdodana jumps for the ball in the 2012 SPAR Challenge against Northern Ireland.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Goal shooter Chrisna Bootha, and centre court player Zanele Mdodana were included in the squad announced by Netball South Africa (NSA) after missing the recent tour of England because of injury.

England won the three-Test series 3-0, but head coach Elize Kotze said she believed her team was closing the gap and the addition of the two experienced players would bring the SPAR Proteas within reach of the world number three team. “Chrisna offers us more variety in the goal circle, which is a luxury we didn’t have in England,” she said. “She had a fantastic training camp last weekend, and you could see she was back to her best. She offers us the option of switching between the very tall, but more static Melissa Myburgh, and Chrisna’s more mobile style of play.

Kotze said the return of Mdodana was also very significant. “She has such a presence, both on and off the field, and she makes a big difference to the team. She is playing very confidently.”

Aneret Viljoen has also returned to the team. “It is good to have Aneret back, especially as Vanes-Mari du Toit is injured. She combines very well with Adele Niemand in defence.”

Dr Eljse Jordaan has been brought onto the management team to assist Kotze in coaching on specialist attack. “It is a great asset to have Elsje as a part of the management team” said President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa, “we are sure that she will make a positive contribution to our attacking style of play.”

Kotze said it was a luxury having played England less than three weeks before the start of the Tri-nations, which will be played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth from October 22-25. “The players realised during that tour that the England players were just ordinary human beings, and although we lost all three matches, we have brought the goal difference down from 30 or 40 to 11 and 12 in two matches, and 18 in the other. The players are beginning to realise just what they are capable of and they will not be over-awed.”

The Tri-nations tournament will be followed by the Diamond Challenge against Zambia and Zimbabwe, which will also be played in Port Elizabeth from October 27-30. A different team will be selected for that, as many of the Proteas are students who are involved in university examinations.

SPAR national netball team for Tri-Nations tournament: Shooters – Chrisna Bootha, Melissa Myburgh, Maryka Holtzhausen, Lindie Lombard; Centre court – Simnikiwe Mdaka, Bongiwe Msomi, Zanele Mdodana, Precious Mthembu; Defenders – Karla Mostert, Aneret Viljoen, Nontle Gwavu, Adele Niemand.


A GOOD EFFORT FROM THE SPAR PROTEAS

Worcester, England – In true South African style the SPAR Proteas bounced back from defeat and played their hearts out in the final test against England in Worcester on Friday. “Our players showed true courage and character on court. They were more comfortable and consistent in their ball placement, losing some of the caution that they had before.”

SPAR Protea wing defence Nontle Gwavu jumps for the ball against the tight defence of England’s Jade Clarke.

SPAR Proteas goal defence, and Kotze’s player of the match Karla Mostert against England’s Mia Ritchie and Sara Byaman.
Pictures by: backpageimages.com


The England side started off strong, with an emphasis on defence. Melissa Myburgh was given very little room to move as goal keeper Geva Mentor put up a wall in the South African circle. Despite a number of turnover balls from the South African defence – Karla Mostert had a phenomenal game – the SPAR Proteas were unable to capitalise on the opportunities. England led after the first quarter by 16 goals to 7.

The second quarter continued in a similar vein, as both teams had brilliant and poor moments. Maryka Holtzhausen – celebrating her 50th test cap – made some excellent long shots at goal, throwing off her defenders with her left-handed play. With Holtzhausen providing more support to young goal shooter Myburgh, she was able to gain more confidence as the game drew on and she began to play more of an abrasive game. England led 30-16 at half time.

Bringing in the big guns after half time, England coach Anna Mayes brought on Stacey Francis as goal defence. Elize Kotze also made a number of changes as Bongiwe Msomi replaced Simnikiwe Mdaka on centre and Lindie Lombard stepped up to play wing attack. Improved communication between South African goal shooters enabled the girls in green and gold to outscore the England side at one stage, but this was short lived, as England went on to score a further 12 goals to the SPAR Proteas 9.

It was the final quarter that showed the true ability of the SPAR Proteas, as they played a brilliant 15 minutes of netball. Precious Mthembu joined Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert on defence, and the ball was driven up court more often. Playing into the contact faults of England goal keeper Lindsay Keable the SPAR Proteas scored a number of consecutive goals, eventually outscoring the England side by 5 goals. The final whistle blew at 53-41 to the home side.

“The more our players compete at this level, the better they will get” said Kotze after the game. “We need to compete, contest and improve, focusing on our conditioning to be able to compete with consistency for 60 minutes.”

The SPAR Proteas will have another opportunity to play the England side, this time on home ground, as they will play a tri-nations against England, and Trinidad and Tobago at the end of October. “We can’t wait” said coach Kotze, “we will be ready!”


SPAR PROTEAS COACH NEEDS MORE SUPPORT

Worcester, England – SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze says that the only way that her team will be able to step up to the next level of netball, is if she is provided with more support. Not having a full and consistent support team to surround the national coach is detrimental to the team’s performance, and more structures are needed to encourage strict conditioning.

“We need a central monitoring base” said Kotze in an interview following the loss of two test matches against England this past week. “We need a platform that allows for the national fitness coach and regional coach to align the fitness goals of their players.” Bearing in mind that not all players have the same opportunities or facilities to train at, the responsibility falls on the regional coaches and the players themselves.

“We did adjust our approach to conditioning after last year’s Quad series” said Kotze. “We focused more on endurance and intensity of play, but I also need to rely on the ethics of my players. If they want to be in the SPAR Protea squad, then they need to make fitness, conditioning and diet a lifestyle. We also need more training camps so that this can be better monitored.”

Aware of the sustainability of her team, Kotze knows what changes need to be made in the last test match against England on Friday. “We are South African, and I know that we can bounce back from defeat. We need to stick to our instructions and change to more of a running style of play. We became too predictable in the last two matches.” Conscious of the ruthless English defence, the SPAR Proteas dropped in confidence towards the end of both tests, and became static; “our players are too aware of the English defence, and our play became one-dimensional, we need to force England into their discomfort. Our success will be the element of surprise.”


HARD LOSS FOR SPAR PROTEA TEAM

Wembley, London – In an up-and-down match in Wembley Arena on Wednesday evening, the SPAR Proteas faced the reality that inevitably; England were the better team. Showing more maturity, stamina and strength in play; the English gained as South Africa waned as the game progressed.

As always, the SPAR Proteas were off to a strong start. Taking guidance from their coaching sessions to heart, the attack players played a patient and controlled game, despite the high intensity of the match. The attack combination of Msomi, Mdaka, Holtzhausen and Myburgh was solid, and a number of goals were scored in the beginning of the first quarter. However, England edged more into the lead as the ruthless goal defence Stacey Francis made a number of intercepts, and the home side led after the first whistle by 13 goals to 9.

England were first to score off a South African centre in the second quarter and began to run away with their lead, scoring a further 7 goals to SA’s 4 within seven minutes. The SPAR Proteas were not able to capitalise on their intercepts and threw away a number of opportunities. Simnikiwe Mdaka called for injury and was replaced in wing attack by Holtzhausen as Lindie Lombard took over goal attack. Despite a few good minutes of play by the South Africa side, they were hampered by a lack of confidence in the goal circle. It was in moments like these that the maturity of the English side showed. “Our goal attack was not able to properly support our goal shooter” said Coach Elize Kotze after the game, “we need our goal attack to be fearless and take crazy shots at goal.”

The third quarter saw a number of changes to both sides as Vanes-Mari du Toit was brought on as goal keeper, Yolandi Stone as wing attack, and Mostert and Niemand were moved to wing defence and goal defence, respectively. Anna Mayes also made a number of changes to her wing attack, centre and goal keeper positions.

England was first to score again as the SPAR Proteas made a number of errors. The South African defence efforts were hampered as balls were continuously lost close to the goal circle as the attack team was put under immense pressure for space and movement. English goal shooter Jo Harten, who was celebrating her 50th cap, had a brilliant game, and was back on form after she was benched in the first test.

SPAR Proteas captain was moved back onto court within a few minutes as her team’s confidence started to drop. However, the third quarter reflected much of the style of play as the previous one, with England bullying their way further into the lead with a 41-25 score.

Although there was some redemptive play by the South African’s in the third quarter, it was not strong enough to close in on the experienced English team. Niemand capitalised on a number of rebounds, but again the SPAR Proteas struggled to find space to play the court and lost opportunities.
The final whistle blew at 51-33 to the English side.

“This was a very disappointing result, as we could not play with consistency” said Kotze after the game. “We started off very well and had more than enough turn over balls to survive a match like this, again this comes down to a lack of discipline on ball possession, and conditioning.”


NAIL-BITING FIRST TEST AGAINST ENGLAND

Bath, England – In a nail-biting first test match against England on UK soil, the SPAR Proteas fought a good fight, starting off very strong, only to fall slightly behind towards the end of each quarter.

SPAR Protea goal shooter Melissa Myburgh fights for the ball against England’s Stacey Francis.

SPAR Protea Lindie Lombard aims at goal under Eboni Beckford Chambers’ defence.
Pictures by: Backpage images.com


The score was neck and neck to begin with, until it equalled at five-all in the first 7 minutes of the first quarter, thereafter South Africa took the lead. The combinations set by Coach Elize Kotze worked very well. Bongiwe Msomi was her usual Tigress on centre, supported by Simnikiwe Mdaka on wing attack, and the team of the lanky Melissa Myburgh on goal shooter and Maryka Holtzhausen on goal attack was a powerful one. The SPAR Protea players were focused and feisty on court, and maintained majority of the possession until England equalled at 10-all, just scoring a final goal to end the first quarter 11-10.

The second quarter was much the same as the girls in green and gold levelled out the field with their first goal, and then leapt ahead by three goals within the first four minutes. England crept up, but South Africa was having none of it and maintained their lead well into the second quarter. However, a few consecutive goals and England was able to close the gap again with an 18-all score, sneaking in a further two goals before the half-time whistle.

It was the third quarter that let the SPAR South African side down, as they were not able to capitalise on a number of turnover balls. England was quicker at getting their ball into the goal circle, and was able to gain a lead of 31-23 in the sixth minute. South Africa found their rhythm and began closing in, but lost it again after England called time, and lagged at the end of the quarter by 29 to 35.

Coach Elize Kotze made a number of changes in the final quarter which included switching Myburgh with Vanes-Mari du Toit and bringing Thuli Qegu on as wing defence. Some new combinations aided in team stamina, but the last three minutes of the final quarter were England’s spotlight. The ladies in red made a number of intercepts and quick passes to score consecutive goals, and they finished the match with a 49-38 win.

England Coach Anna Mayes gave credit to the South African side after the match; “You can never underestimate a team that South Africa brings, they have a lot of depth in the team, all respect and acknowledgement to South Africa, especially in their attack.”

Mayes, wasn’t as happy with her own team’s performance; “We were ill disciplined and didn’t cherish any of the ball possession that we were given or gained. We probably only found our groove in the last three minutes of the final quarter of the game.”

SPAR Proteas Coach Elize Kotze said that this was a good first game to see where the SPAR Proteas stand against England; “I am disappointed that we weren’t able to capitalise on all our ball possession, and that we are still lacking in about 20 minutes of our game, but this was a good test to see where we are, and what we need to improve on.”

“I need to settle my combinations” said Kotze, “we still have two tests left and I need to put up the best 7 who are able to play at this intensity.”

The second test between the SPAR Proteas and England will take place on Wednesday 25 September at Wembley Arena at 19h45 (UK time), 20h45 (SA time).


SPAR Baby PROTEAS READY TO TAKE ON ENGLAND

Bath, London – The SPAR Baby Proteas are feeling well prepared ahead of their first test match in a three test series, against England on Sunday.

The SPAR Protea team ready to take on England. Picture taken in Pretoria at a training camp last weekend.
Back (l-r): Melissa Myburgh, Nontle Gwavu, Adele Niemand, Thuli Qegu, Lindie Lombard, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Simnikiwe Mdaka.
Front (l-r): Karla Mostert, Bongiwe Msomi (Vice-Captain), Precious Mthembu, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Yolandi Stone.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“Our past experiences, have matured not only me as a coach, but the whole team” said Coach Elize Kotze on Saturday. “It would be very naïve of me to tell my players that they have to win tomorrow, but we will be going into the game with a winning mentality. We want to play winning netball; flawless, disciplined and controlled.”

The SPAR Proteas arrived in Bath on Thursday, and have since then had a number of strong training sessions, focussing on ball possession and endurance. “I am satisfied with the planning and training that we’ve done in preparation for tomorrow’s game” said Kotze. “We’ve had enough time to focus on each individual facet of the game, and are going into the match treating every single ball possession individually.”

Kotze has been pushing the players in short but intense training sessions to build their endurance on court. In previous matches the SPAR Proteas have given top netball nations a run for their money. “In the World Cup we held our own against New Zealand for two quarters, last year in the Quad Series we put up a fight against England for three, now all we need is 60 minutes.”

The SPAR South African team will take on third world ranked England at the University of Bath on Sunday 22 September at 13h30 (UK time), 14h30 (SA time). Matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.


SOLID TEAM SELECTED FOR ENGLAND TEST SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa have chosen a strong and balanced team for the three-Test series against England towards the end of this month.

Back l-r: Nontle Gwavu, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Melissa Myburgh, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Adele Niemand, Nokuthula Qegu, Karla Mostert.
Front l-r: Lindie Lombard, Yolandi Stone, Bongiwe Msomi (Captain), Simnikiwe Mdaka, Precious Mthembu


Head coach of the SPAR South African team, Elize Kotze, said she was very happy with the team, although three experienced players – Erin Burger, Zanele Mdodana and Chrisna Bootha – were unavailable for selection because of injury.

“Losing that much experience is a serious blow, but I’m very pleased with the team that we’ve selected,” she said. “Some young players, like Lindie Lombard, are going to be given a chance to show us what they can do, and we’re also very happy to have a player like Yolandi Stone, who actually gave up netball for a while, back in the fold.

“Lindie went to the Quad series (against Australia, New Zealand and England) last year, but only got about 10 minutes of game time before she was injured. But now she is back from recovery and rehabilitation, and she is very good back-up for a player like Maryka (Holtzhausen),” said Kotze.

“Lindie had an outstanding SPAR National Championships, and showed us just how good she is, ”she added. “She is a very creative player, and performs superbly as a specialist goal defence. She has an excellent work ethic and has a wonderful feel for what is expected from her.”

Kotze said Stone would be a very good replacement for Burger, who was named player of the tournament at the World Championships in Singapore in 2011. “She’s a good team player, and an excellent distributor of the ball,” said Kotze. The coach said she had been very pleased with the progress made at the training camp held in Pretoria last weekend.

Kotze said the series against the team ranked third in the world would be a big challenge for the SPAR Proteas, but she believed they were ready to meet the challenge. “We have been viewing a lot of footage of England in action, and every player has been studying their opponent so they know how to deal with them. I think we’re going to know a lot more about England than they will know about us,” she said.

The three Tests will be played in Bath on September 22, Wembley on September 25 and Worcester on September 27.

SPAR National Netball Team: Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Yolandi Stone, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Bongiwe Msomi (Vise-Captain), Simnikiwe Mdaka, Nokuthula Qegu, Karla Mostert, Precious Mthembu, Adele Niemand, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Nontle Gwavu


SPAR BABY PROTEAS END WITHWIN

Glasgow, Scotland – In a tough match against Wales, the SPAR Baby Proteas just managed to sneak in a win, despite a disastrous third quarter.

Off to a good start, the SPAR Baby Proteas were playing well as a team. Knowing that it was their goal circle play that had let them down in previous matches, they were focused on consistency and accuracy under the post, as well as turning over balls; “We knew that Wales didn’t miss, so we needed to turn balls before they went into the circle” said Coach Dorette Badenhorst after the game. “There is still room for improvement in our goal circle, but I think the girls played very well today.”

Despite leading by a number of goals in the first and second half, ending half time with a score of 30-23, it was some changes in the third quarter that almost cost the South Africans the match. “It was a tough game” said Badenhorst, “I made some changes in the third quarter and they didn’t work.”

Wanting to rest wing attack Izette Lubbe, Badenhorst changed around player combinations, but this negatively impacted the rhythm of play and allowed Wales to gain momentum and score a number of goals, ending the third quarter just one goal behind at 37-38.

Further changes again changed up the game, as the SPAR Baby Proteas got their game back in a gutsy final quarter, eventually stretching out the lead to end off on a 54-48 win. “I am happy with fifth place” said Coach Dorette Badenhorst. “We drew a tough pool, but we played well. I do still think we can play in the top four in the world, and give Jamaica and England a go!”

Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa said that she was happy with the team’s overall performance; “We are very pleased, and coming here we have at least achieved one of our goals; improving our ranking from 9th to 5th. Playing in a tournament like this is a good platform not only to work on different combinations, but to prepare the players for matches against the toughest teams in the world.”


SPAR BABY PROTEAS TO CONTEND FOR 5TH PLACE AT WORLD YOUTH CHAMPS

Glasgow, Scotland – In one of the more predictable matches of the World Youth Netball Championships, the SPAR Baby Proteas beat Barbados 59-20 to move into the 5th place playoff.

Unlike the last two teams that South Africa has come up against, Barbados started off slowly, giving the SPAR Baby Proteas ample opportunities to intercept and score off their centres. South African goal attack Lisa-Marie Wiese was quick on her feet, making a number of such intercepts, and goal keeper Zandre Kruger had a great game. South Africa led by 17 goals to 4 by the end of the first quarter.

The SPAR Baby Proteas picked up the pace slightly in the second quarter as they played well as a team. They maintained majority possession of the ball, turning over a number of the Barbados plays once again, and ending at half time with 35 goals to 10. Barbados continued to give the South Africans room to play in, which allowed them to widen the gap even more in the third quarter, scoring a further 13 goals to Barbados’ 4. The last quarter was no different, as the SPAR Baby Proteas maintained their lead in an easy win.

“The girls came back well, and had an excellent match” said South African coach Dorette Badenhorst in a post-match interview. “The shots went in, the defence was brilliant. The SPAR Baby Proteas are back!”

On court two, a hotly competitive match ensued between Wales and Trinidad and Tobago, which would pin one of them up against South Africa on Saturday. After a very tight game, Wales just managed to sneak ahead, taking the game by 61 goals to 54.

Looking ahead of the match, coach Badenhorst said; “Wales is a very good team, who are physically strong. We need to be at our best, and will try our best to take fifth place.”

The SPAR Baby Proteas will take on Wales on Saturday 31 August at 12h30 Glasgow time.


NO SHOOTING STARS FOR SPAR BABY PROTEAS

Glasgow, Scotland – In a gritty quarterfinal match of the World Youth Netball Championships, the SPAR Baby Proteas lost any hope that they had of coming home with a medal.

SPAR Baby Proteas Rochelle Lawson in action against England in their quarterfinal match of the World Youth Netball Championships being played at the Emirates arena in Glasgow, Scotland.

SPAR Baby Proteas Vice-Captain Simphiwe Sithebe fights for the ball in a gritty quarterfinal match against England in the World Youth Netball Championships.
Pictures by: Tom Roberts, Planet Netball


The first quarter against England was intense and fast, with both sides forcing errors from the opposition, only to throw the ball away moments later. South Africa appeared to be calm and collected, making the most of intercept opportunities.

The SPAR Baby Proteas led the way as England matched them goal for goal, until finally overtaking them, and when the whistle blew South Africa was only two points behind with 10 goals to 12.

The second quarter proved to test England as their wing attack was injured only twenty seconds in, and had to get taken off court. England was forced to pick up their defence, and as the SPAR Baby Proteas struggled to get the ball through the net, they began to run away with the lead, doubling their goals from 12 to 24 whilst South Africa only scored 5 more.

Despite another injury just before half time, the England team showed up for the second half more determined than ever, and whilst the South African mid court played well, their shooters let them down. “We didn’t keep our possession” said Coach Dorette Badenhorst after the game. “We can’t beat the best if our goal average is 63%. We turned enough balls to beat them, but our shots weren’t going in.”

The SPAR Baby Proteas continued to play hot and cold for the duration of the match, as they managed to turn balls, but were unable to convert them into goals. The England side feasted on this, and ended the match with a 45-33 win.

England will go on to play Australia in the semi-finals tomorrow, and are planning on giving it their all; “We are so happy to be into the semis, that was what we came here to do” said Captain Natalie Haythornthwaite after the match. “We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy match but I couldn’t be prouder of our team. We will go out fighting tomorrow!”

A very emotional South African Vice-Captain Rochelle Lawson was disappointed, but is looking ahead to their fifth place playoff against Barbados tomorrow; “We lost focus, we could have done better, but tomorrow we are going to fight and give it our all.”

The SPAR Baby Proteas will play Barbados for fifth position on Thursday 29 August, at 15h45 Glasgow time.


SPAR BABY PROTEAS BATTLE IT OUT AGAINST AUSTRALIA

Glasgow, Scotland – Despite putting in a good effort the SPAR Baby Proteas were no match for Australia in their final pool game of the World Youth Netball Championships, being played at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. It was evident that the Australian players were more at home on court, as they edged further and further into the lead, finally defeating the girls in green and gold 59-27.

SPAR Baby Proteas goal attack Danelle Willemse, who had a brilliant game, out-jumps Australian goal defence Joanna Weston, during their match at the World Youth Championships, played on Tuesday.
Picture by: Tom Roberts, Planet Netball


Off to a slow start, the South Africans lost their first centre to Australia who ran away with the ball. Both teams made a number of errors, but SA particularly doing so as they approached their goal circle, losing opportunities at scoring. The Australians gave them no room to move as they marked the SPAR Baby Proteas with physical play, allowing them only four goals to their 13.

The second quarter continued in a similar manner as the fast and quick Australians charged ahead. “Australia is very fast” said Vice-Captain Rochelle Lawson after the game. “This is something that we can work on.” The SPAR Baby Proteas struggled to keep ball in hand, and Australia had sunk 9 goals before South Africa had touched their net. The half-time score was 32-10.

After a motivating half-time talk by team coach Dorette Badenhorst, the SPAR Baby Proteas reappeared as a different team. “I told them to set a target for each quarter, and that we were not going to quit. We needed to keep fighting, the game wasn’t over yet!” South Africa was first to score and appeared to be playing more as a team. The combination of goal shooter Danelle Willemse and goal attack Mari-Lena Joubert was very strong. Goal keeper Shadine van der Merwe was superb on defence, turning over a number of the Aussie balls, and only allowing Australia to score one more goal than her team in the third quarter.

However, the last quarter of the game wasn’t as hopeful, as the SPAR Baby Proteas started to tire. Despite keeping up the fight, and forcing a few errors, the strength of the Australian team proved too tough. The last few minutes saw the South Africans make a number of errors, and Australia dominated scoring 16 goals to South Africa’s 7.

“At one stage we played very good netball, but we need to play more as a team” said Dorette Badenhorst after the match. “We lost our possession along with our confidence. It was tough out there, and they [Australia] are physically very strong. We waited for the umpires to blow the whistle but it didn’t happen. We need to be a bit more physical in our game.”

When asked about the Quarterfinal match against England tomorrow, Badenhorst said her team was ready; “We’ve got a tough game coming up. But we are going to go for the win. We are really going to prepare well and hope for the best.”

The SPAR Baby Proteas will take on England in the Quarterfinal on Wednesday at 8pm, Glasgow time.


NAMIBIA NO MATCH FOR THEIR AFRICAN OPPONENTS

Glasgow, Scotland – Despite putting in a good effort, Namibia was no match for the SPAR Baby Proteas, who have not yet lost a match in the World Youth Netball Championships.

SPAR Baby Proteas centre player Izette Lubbe in action against Namibia on Monday 26 August.
Picture by: Picture by: Tom Roberts, Planet Netball


South Africa were the first to score off a Namibian centre, and continued in this manner for majority of the first quarter. Four goals were scored in under two minutes, and Namibia could barely get their hands on the ball. The SPAR Baby Proteas appeared confident on court and played a lot of short sharp passes, moving the ball quickly into their goal circle.

Namibia on the other hand appeared shell shocked, and were making a number of errors, often throwing past their own players with long, high passes. By the end of the first quarter Namibia had only managed to score four goals to South Africa’s 28.

The second quarter saw much better netball being played by the Namibians. They increased their score by a further eight goals to South Africa’s five. Whilst their play was more concentrated, it was clear to see that they were leaving many an open space for the South African team to play into.

In the second half of the match both teams upped their game, and the South Africa used their height advantage once again, often stretching past their Namibian counterparts. Although getting the ball into the goal circle more often, the Namibians often took two attempts to sink a ball, slowing down their options of scoring. However, they did manage to sink more goals by the end of the third quarter, and trailed behind South Africa by 22 goals to 53. South Africa played into the gap, and ended the match 71-27.

Always aware of a physical match against an African country, Coach Dorette Badenhorst said that her team could have adapted quicker; “It is always tough playing against an African country. Namibia played well and we made a lot of mistakes.”

Tuesday’s game poses the biggest threat to the girls in green and gold, as they take on world number two’s; Australia. Vice-Captain Rochelle Lawson says that her team is ready; “Every game is a learning curve, but we are ready for tomorrow. We have been analysing the team and working hard. The team is positive.” Coach Badenhorst has a similar attitude; “Tomorrow is going to be a tough game. We are dedicated, motivated and are going in for the win.”

The SPAR Baby Proteas take on Australia at 15h00 Glasgow time on Tuesday 27 August.


SPAR BABY PROTEAS THRASH ISRAEL

Glasgow, Scotland – In their second match of the World Youth Netball Championships, the U21 South African side steam rolled their opponents, by a whopping 130 goals.

SPAR Baby Proteas Vice-Captain Rochelle Lawson in action against Isreal during their second match of the World Youth Netball Championships.
Picture by: Picture by: Tom Roberts, Planet Netball


Despite using this match as an opportunity to rest a few players, the SPAR Baby Proteas were way ahead of their Israeli counterparts. “This wasn’t my first choice line-up” said Coach Dorette Badenhorst after the match, “but the team played well and put in a good effort.”

South Africa were out to meet targets set by their coach and they blasted through the first quarter to score an amount of goals worthy of a full game; 37. Israel had not scored at all. By the time the half-time whistle blew, South Africa had almost doubled their score to 64 goals, whilst the girls in white and blue had only scored one. However, the Israeli team kept their spirits high, and remained energised throughout the match.

At the end of the third quarter, the SPAR Baby Proteas had scored 100 goals to Israel’s one, something that could also be attributed to the massive height difference in goal circle players. South Africa’s goal keeper Kefiloe Tsotsetsie measures up at 196cm, whilst Israel’s goal shooter Chava Neeman is a mere 155cm, giving Neeman a near impossible task of receiving high feeds.

The final quarter continued in a similar vein, as the SPAR Baby Proteas continued to dominate, defeating Israel 134-4.

Always keen to take lessons from each game, Coach Dorette Badenhorst is hoping the players will correct a few things before the next big clash against Namibia on Tuesday. “There are still a lot of things that we can improve on” said Badenhorst after the match, “we still need to work on our timing, good ball placement, and stronger passing.”

South Africa play fellow African’s Namibia at 17h15 Glasgow time, on Tuesday 26th August.


SPAR BABY PROTEAS BEAT BABY PEARLS IN IMPORTANT CLASH

Glasgow, Scotland - Day three of the World Youth Netball Championships began with a Group A game between two potential Quarter Final contenders; South Africa and Fiji, and it was the South Africans who came away with the win of 64 goals to Fiji’s 32.

SPAR Baby Protea Captain Simphiwe Sithebe in action against Fiji, during their first match of the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow.
Picture by: Tom Roberts, Planet Netball


The ‘SPAR Baby Proteas’ were quick to get going and despite a boisterous support crew for their opponents, South Africa stormed ahead to take a vast first quarter lead of 17 goals to 7. The second quarter saw a Fijian side (also known as the ‘Baby Pearls’) suddenly burst with energy. Under the leadership and example of Captain Raijieli Daveua, who’s relentless work rate earned her multiple interceptions and tips, Fiji looked energised.

However, they struggled to take the ball into their attacking third as South Africa’s mid court defence closed down their options. South Africa speedily sent the ball into GS Danelle Willemse who skilfully landed close to the post. Willemse went on to score 39 of South Africa’s goals.

Unfortunately for Fiji, they lacked some communication in their shooting circle, and a dummy pass from Afa Rusivakila which caught Unouna Rauluni off guard, was snapped up by the South Africans. South Africa lead at half time by 24 goals allowing Coach Dorette Badenhorst to make five positional changes.

Despite having some of their best moments in the third and fourth quarters, Fiji had left themselves too much to do. They lost the third quarter by just five goals and the fourth by three. A disappointing loss for the team and their fans, who’s cheering, flag waving and chanting lasted right up to the final whistle.

SPAR Baby Proteas coach Dorette Badenhorst said after the match; “This was a very important game for us to win, we are working hard to go for a medal this year, and are looking to cause some upsets in our pool.”

South Africa’s next match is against Israel on Sunday 25 August at 17h45 Glasgow time.


SPAR BABY PROTEAS WELL PREPARED FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR Under-21 netball team left for Glasgow on Monday, for the world youth championships from Thursday August 22 to Saturday August 31.

L-R: Back. Mari-Lena Joubert, Izette Lubbe, Rochelle Lawson, Deancke Rohde, Lisa-Marie Wiese, Zandre Kruger and Kefiloe Tsotetsi.
Front: Simphiwe Sithebe, Bongolethu Ngobeni, Nobubele Phuza and Shadine van der Merwe.
Absent: Danielle Willemse
Picture by: Reg Caldecott.


The SPAR Baby Proteas ended their preparations with a short, but intense training camp at the High Performance Centre at Pretoria University this past weekend. In addition to physical training, the players also had a motivational session, aimed at putting them in the right frame of mind to achieve their goal of returning to South Africa with the gold medal.

The players are confident of doing well, after easily beating all the men’s teams when they took part in the men’s inter-provincial tournament in Rustenburg earlier this month, which the aim was of getting them accustomed to some very physical and robust play.

“The men provide a different perspective explained Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Selections,” Christine du Preez. “Men’s netball tends to be very fast, which will be to their advantage when they play in the world championships,” she said.

South Africa have been drawn in Pool A, which includes Australia, Fiji, Israel and Namibia. “It’s quite a tough group,” said du Preez. “Australia and Fiji are always tough competitors, and we won’t be taking victory over Israel and Namibia for granted either. We’re hoping to get off to a good start so that we can develop some momentum.”

Under-21 coach Dorette Badenhorst said she was very happy with the team after the training camp. “Everyone is fit and well. We played two games during the camp, and made sure that everyone went back to basics. They are very upbeat, and they are peaking at exactly the right time. I am confident that we are going to do very well in Glasgow.”

SPAR Under-21 National Netball Team: Deancke Rohde, Danielle Willemse, Mari-Lena Joubert, Lisa-Marie Wiese, Bongolethu Ngobeni, Izette Lubbe, Simphiwe Sithebe (captain), Nobubele Phuza, Rochelle Lawson (vice-captain), Shadine van der Merwe, Kefiloe Tsotetsi, Zandre Kruger.


MANGAUNG WIN FIRST NETBALL TITLE IN 50 YEARS

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Mangaung (formerly Free State) finally got a monkey off their backs when they became netball champions for the first time in more than 50 years.

A very proud winning Mangaung Metro team, after defeating three-time defending champions Gauteng North in the SPAR National Championships final.
(L-R) Back: Maryka Holtzhausen, Mari-Lise Linde, Carine Terblanche, Karla Mostert, Iselma Parkin, Zi-Mari Smit, Michael Shaw (Trainer) and Burta de Kock (Coach).
Middle: Lauren-Lee Christians,Adelle Niemand (Captain), Sheherezide Duimpies, Ane Botha and Success Lekaba.
Front: Corne Marais (Manager) and Dakalo Tshikala.)

A smiling Adele Niemand, captain of Mangaung Metro holds her team’s trophy high after their win in over 50 years.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Mangaung came from behind to beat Gauteng North 39-36 in the final of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Saturday. The last time a Free State team won the national title was when Southern Free State became champions in 1961 and 1962.

Mangaung (formerly Free State) have played in six finals in the past 10 years, but until now have been on the losing side, while Gauteng North were aiming for their fourth successive title. “If you play in six finals, you’ve got to win eventually,” said a beaming Mangaung Vice-Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen.

Mangaung were first off the block in the opening quarter, during which the lead changed hands from minute to minute, with Gauteng North ending 11-9 ahead. The defending champions stretched their lead in the second quarter, and at times were as many as six goals ahead. They led 21-17 at halftime.

But the Free State team stormed back after the break, scoring eight of the first nine goals in the quarter. While Gauteng had looked the more polished side in the first half, with accurate passes and quick decision-making, the roles were reversed in the second half, with Mangaung looking self-assured and confident.

“We made a couple of positional changes at halftime, and that gave the team more space to play creatively,” said Coach Burta de Kock. Mangaung led 28-26 at the end of the third quarter. In the final 15 minutes, goals went largely according to the centre pass, and Mangaung managed to keep their noses in front.

“At one stage, I asked how long was left,” said goal attack Holtzhausen. “I was told there were two and a half minutes, and those were the longest of my life. We knew we just had to keep the ball in hand and we could do it.”

“I’m so proud of my players,” said Captain Adele Niemand, who was named player of the tournament.
“I’ve been playing for Free State for 10 years, and it’s a dream come true that we have finally won the title. It was a real team effort, and showed that all our hard work has paid off.”

De Kock said they had known the match was going to be tough, but she said the leadership on the court was what had made the difference. “The players stuck to their game plan and showed their determination. I told them they could win if they wanted to win more than they wanted to breathe. This was a fantastic outcome for a coach.”

In the play-off for third place, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) beat Nelson Mandela Bay 53-44. Boland B beat Gauteng North B 39-29 to win the B-section and Ilembe beat Nkangala 40-35 to win the C-section.


GAUTENG NORTH, MANGAUNG THROUGH TO NETBALL FINALS

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Gauteng North and Mangaung reached the finals of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace after beating Nelson Mandela Bay and Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) respectively on Friday.

Gauteng North got off to a fairly slow start, leading by just 15 goals to 10 after the first quarter, but they were never in danger of breaking their unbeaten record at this year’s championships. At halftime, they led 27-15. They began to pile on the pressure after that, scoring 14 goals to Nelson Mandela’s eight in the third quarter, and 16 to 11 in the final 15 minutes, to take the match 57-37. Earlier in the day, they convincingly downed Western Province 57-38 in the quarterfinals, with a largely second-string team.

Mangaung also appeared to be in little trouble as they overpowered the youthful Dr Kenneth Kaunda side 50-36. They were 13-7 ahead after the first quarter, but pulled further away in each subsequent quarter, finally winning the match 50-36. “It was a very physical match, but we were always sure that we could take it,” said captain Adele Niemand. “We nearly always manage to make the finals, and this year, we are determined to win. We’ve reached a number of finals in the 10 years I’ve been playing for Free State, so eventually we have to win.

“Gauteng North are a very strong team, with five SPAR Proteas, but we are also strong, and we have three Proteas in our side. “The winner of the final tomorrow will be the team that makes the least mistakes.”

She was not concerned that Mangaung had lost to Gauteng North (49-30) in their round robin match. “It’s often an advantage to have played them earlier in the tournament,” she said. “We know what we did wrong then, and we won’t make the same mistakes again.”

Earlier in the day, there was heartbreak for Gauteng Central, who thought they had reached the semi-finals, only to learn on Thursday that a quarter-final round had been introduced. They lost to Nelson Mandela Bay in their quarter-final, but beat Western Province in their next match. They will play Boland in the play-off for fifth place on Saturday.


GAUTENG NORTH AND DR KENNETH KAUNDA TOP THEIR POOLS

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Gauteng North and Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) finished at the top of their pools at the end of the round robin section of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Thursday.

There was a certain amount of confusion when it was revealed that instead of playing semi-finals, as originally scheduled, the top four teams in each pool would play quarterfinals on Friday morning, with the winners playing the semi-finals in the afternoon.

“The teams should have been told earlier,” said Netball South Africa president Mimi Mthethwa, but I have had a meeting with all the presidents of the unions involved, and they have accepted the change. It was agreed that the teams coming third and fourth in their pools should have a chance to fight for a place in the semi-finals, so as to balance the results of the pools.”

While defending champions Gauteng North have been the strongest team throughout the championships, Dr Kenneth Kaunda emerged surprise winners of Pool 2, when they beat the more favoured Gauteng Central 54-36 in one of the best matches of the day.

“They’re very young, but they succeeded because they played as a team,” said coach Dorette Badenhorst. “The majority of them are under-21 or under-19, but we have a player like former SPAR Protea Leigh-Ann Zackey to add experience,” she said. “Because they are young, they are very fit and have a lot of stamina, and can outrun and outlast teams with older players.”

Gauteng Central coach, former Protea Martha Mosoahle Sam, said her team played badly on Thursday, and this had cost them dearly. “Today was the real test, and they didn’t come to the party,” she said. “We fell behind in the first quarter, when they were ahead by 15 goals to five, and after that we were always playing catch-up. We came back strongly in the second quarter, and at one stage were just four goals behind, but Kenneth Kaunda are a good team and you can’t come back against a team like that.”

Both coaches had prepared for semi-finals, and had not expected to have to play an extra match. “It throws everything out,” said Sam. “Yesterday, we knew that the four semi-finalists would be Gauteng North, Gauteng Central, ourselves and Mangaung,” said Badenhorst. “All that had to be decided was who would play who. Now we have to play an extra match, and to play two crucial matches on the same day.”

Dr Kenneth Kaunda will play Boland in the quarter-finals, Gauteng Central will play Nelson Mandela Bat, Gauteng North will play Western Province, and Mangaung will come up against Francis Baard (formerly Griqualand West).


GAUTENG CENTRAL, GAUTENG NORTH AND DR KENNETH KAUNDA STILL UNBEATEN

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay lost their first match of the tournament when Mangaung beat them 44-33 on day three of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Wednesday.

Ane Botha of Mangaung Metro (Left) and Sameshia Esau compete for the ball in the match between Nelson Mandela Bay and Mangaung Metro during day 3 of the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

SPAR Protea team members Adele Niemand of Mangaung Metro and Colleen Ferreira in action during their match played on Wednesday.


The Eastern Cape team had a slender 20-19 lead at halftime, but the Free Staters came back in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents by12 goals to nine, and then surged ahead in the final quarter, scoring 13 goals to Nelson Mandela Bay’s four.

Head coach of the national team, Elize Kotze, was not surprised by Mangaung’s victory. “They had three very good SPAR Proteas – Maryka Holtzhausen, Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert – playing for them, and that made all the difference. Maryka is an outstanding shooter, and worth 10 points in any match. They also have the experience and maturity to make a difference.”

Mangaung captain Adele Niemand said her team had had a setback on Tuesday, when they were beaten by defending champions Gauteng North, but she was very proud of the way they had bounced back. “Our confidence took a bit of a knock when we lost yesterday, but we have put that loss behind us. I think we did very well in attack, and our defence was also good.”

Nelson Mandela Bay wing defence Zanele Mdodana said a team could only win if they played consistently for the full 60 minutes. “In a tight game like this, you have to be focused all the time. Just a few seconds’ lapse in concentration and the game slips away from you,” she said. “So it will be back to the drawing board for us, but we are confident that we can still make it through to the semi-finals on Friday. There are some aspects of our play we can work on, and we will be working hard to improve our shooting.”

Meanwhile, Umgungundlovu registered their first victory, when they beat Ekurhuleni 38-29.
Last year’s finalists, Gauteng North and runners up Gauteng Central, are unbeaten so far, as are Dr Kenneth Kaunda, who play Gauteng Central on Thursday. Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, Boland and Royal Bafokeng have yet to win a match, while Western Province have only won once.


TWO WINS FOR GAUTENG CENTRAL AND GAUTENG NORTH

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Gauteng Central notched up two victories in quick succession on Tuesday to give notice of their intentions at the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg.

Gauteng Central’s Mampho Tsotesti battles it out against SPAR Protea from Ekurhuleni Thuli Qegu during their first match of the day.


Last year’s losing finalists beat neighbours Ekurhuleni 44-25 in their first match, and two hours later beat Western Province 40-33. Gauteng Central dominated Ekurhuleni throughout the match, outscoring them in every quarter, but in their second match, Western Province came back strongly in the final quarter, scoring 11 goals to Gauteng Central’s three.

Gauteng Central captain, and SPAR Protea, Simnikiwe Mdaka said they were very happy with their results so far, but she felt they needed to improve their performance if they were to top their pool at the end of the round robin stage of the tournament. “It wasn’t too bad playing two games in such quick succession,” she said. “We played hard in the first game, but in the second, we were more measured and controlled. Because we were a bit tired, we slowed things down, and that was to our advantage.
“We need to be more consistent. We have had some brilliant quarters, but in some quarters, we really haven’t played well. The team that will win the championships will be the team that plays four solid quarters,” she said.

Mdaka said she expected competition to get tougher as they went along. “Our last round robin match is against Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) and we expect that to be very hard. “They don’t have many stars, but they are a very strong and determined young team, who work very solidly, so we’ll have to be at our best to beat them on Thursday,” she said.

Defending champions Gauteng North continued their march to the semi-finals, with convincing victories over Mangaung Metro (49-30) and Buffalo City (75-16). Dr Kenneth Kaunda, who beat Umgungundlovu 56-40, are also still unbeaten, as are Nelson Mandela Bay, who beat Royal Bafokeng 60-29. Frances Baard (formerly Griqualand West) beat Western Province 47-43 in a hard-fought match to record their first victory in the last match of the day.

Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, Boland, Royal Bafokeng and Umgungundlovu have yet to win a match, while Mangaung have lost one and won one. Western Province have lost three matches and won one.


ZACKEY’S BACK

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Long-time SPAR Protea stalwart Leigh-Ann Zackey has made a welcome return to netball, two years after hanging up her boots.

Former SPAR Protea Leigh-Ann Zackey in a post-match press conference this afternoon, during the SPAR National Championships being played at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Thirty-one-year-old Zackey retired from netball after the World Netball Championships in Singapore in 2011, but made a surprise return to the sport at the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg this week, playing for Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South).

“What brought me back? Dorette Badenhorst,” laughed Zackey. Badenhorst is the Dr Kenneth Kaunda coach, and Zackey has been helping her as assistant coach, particularly when Badenhorst, also the national Under21 coach, is away on national duty.

“I have really connected with the girls, and have been having fun with them, so when Dorette suggested I play with them, I thought “why not”. They are a wonderful group of players – they have their feet firmly on the ground, and they have such passion for the game. They are thrilled to have me in the team and I am really enjoying playing netball again,” she said.

“When I played for Gauteng North, they had a number of SPAR Proteas in the team, but Kenneth Kaunda are an underdog team, and I am loving playing with them. “I always said I didn’t miss playing netball, but I got goose bumps when I stepped onto the court on Monday.”

Zackey admitted that the prospect of playing in the proposed Netball Premier League (NPL), which Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has said will be under way by the end of this year, was also an incentive for a return to the sport. “I took part in trials for the North West NPL team, and was accepted. It’s a great incentive to get back into netball, and I think it will do wonders for the standard of netball in South Africa. “The more competitive netball we play, the better we will all become,” she said.

Zackey did not rule out trying to regain her position as goalkeeper or goal defence in the SPAR Proteas squad. “I know I will have to train a lot harder and get a lot fitter, but I am prepared to put in the hard work,” she said. “Playing here is just the first step on the ladder. We’ll see how far I can go.”
Zackey said age was not necessarily a factor. “There is not really an age limit. Some of the overseas teams have players who are nearly 40. What you lose in mobility, you make up in experience,” she said.

Asked about her team’s prospect at the championships, Zackey said they were definitely aiming for gold. “There is no point if you don’t aim high,” she said. “We are planning to finish top of our pool, and then win our semi-final.”


GAUTENG NORTH STEAMROLL ROYAL BAFOKENG

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Gauteng North got their title defence off to a brilliant start when they over-powered Royal Bafokeng 82-18 in their opening match at the SPAR National Netball Championships in Rustenburg on Monday.

Gauteng North Goal Keeper, and SPAR Protea Vanes-Mari du Toit in action during their game against Ro
Gauteng North Goal Keeper, and SPAR Protea Vanes-Mari du Toit in action during their game against Ro

Gauteng North Centre (vice-captain) and SPAR Protea, snatches the ball from Royal Bafokeng’s Star Dlwati in one of the first matches of the day at the SPAR National Championships, played at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The hosts managed just one goal to Gauteng North’s 28 in the opening quarter, and by halftime, the defending champions were leading 46-6. Gauteng North surged to a 67-12 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“We’re very happy with the result, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement,” said Gauteng North captain Rozanne Matthyse. “There were a lot of unforced errors, and we need to prevent those when we come up against the stronger teams.”

In 2012, the SPAR Proteas were withdrawn from the provincial teams to prepare for the inaugural Diamond Challenge, but this year they are playing for their provinces once again, and Matthyse said this made an enormous difference. “Vanes-Mari (du Toit) and Erin Burger were outstanding. They both turned a lot of balls and they lifted the whole team. It was wonderful to have our Proteas back again.

“Because we were in such a strong position, we were able to make a number of changes during the match, while we tried out different combinations. This helps the coach to decide which players are the best options when we play stronger teams.”

Gauteng North’s next match is against Mangaung Metro (formerly Free State) and Matthyse expected that match to be much tougher. “They have a lot of senior players, including some SPAR Proteas, and we will have to be on our toes to beat them,” she said.

Royal Bafokeng were not disheartened by their thrashing. “It was wonderful to play against them and we learnt a lot,” enthused goal attack Eileen van Zyl. “We believe we can come back strongly and we are aiming for a top three placing.”

In other A-Section matches on the opening day, Mangaung beat Buffalo City 54-28 and Western Province beat Ekurhuleni 54-38. Nelson Mandela Bay beat Boland 50-40 in one of the closest matches of the day, while Dr Kenneth Kaunda (formerly North West South) overpowered France Baard (Griqualand West) 71-26. Last year’s runners-up, Gauteng Central, beat Umgungundlovu 47-29.


SIMI NAMED BRAND AMBASSADOR

Johannesburg, South Africa - Centre court player Simnikiwe Mdaka is one of the shining stars of the SPAR South African netball team.

Simi addressing guests on behalf of the SPAR Proteas, at the renewal of SPAR’s sponsorship of netball earlier this year.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Last year, ‘Simi’, as she is known to her team mates, was named centre court player of the tournament at the SPAR National Championships at the University of Johannesburg, and now she has been accorded another honour – she has been named a Tsogo Sun Hotels brand ambassador.

Mdaka, a graduate of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, is no stranger to accolades, both professionally and as a netballer. But she is very excited about being named a brand ambassador for Tsogo Sun Hotels. “I’m ecstatic about it. It is a first for netball and a wonderful opportunity to tell people about netball and what a wonderful game it is,” she enthused.

“Netball is finally being put on the map. Netball South Africa have a fantastic partnership with Tsogo Sun, but the sports brand ambassadorships have usually been reserved for sports like cricket, soccer and rugby. So this is a great breakthrough for women’s sport, and for netball in particular,” she said.

“Part of my job as brand ambassador will be to attend and possibly speak at designated Tsogo Sun functions, and will give me the opportunity to promote the sport we all love so much.” Mdaka, who plays for Gauteng Central, will be one of more than 650 players who will be in action at the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg next week.


QUEEN MOTHER PATRON OF SPAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Royal Bafokeng, South Africa - Royalty has been much in the news in recent weeks, with the birth of Prince George of Cambridge and the ascension to the throne of King Philippe of Belgium – and the SPAR National Championships at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace near Rustenburg next week is to have a touch of royal magic as well.

Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Semane Molotlegi of the Bafokeng nation.
Picture by: Royal Bafokeng Sports


Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Semane Molotlegi of the Bafokeng nation has agreed to be patron of the tournament, and will be part of the Opening Ceremony on the 5th August. The Queen Mother is well known for her interest in women’s issues. She founded, among others, the Bafokeng Women’s Club and served actively in health advocacy. She has managed several job creation centres, serves on several boards and is the Area President for the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) in Southern Africa. Among others, she is a Patron of the World’s Children’s Prize, South African Girl Guide, and the National Choral Music Awards.

In February 2003, Queen Semane was awarded the Leading Light Tribute by the International Women’s Forum as an achiever who has enjoyed success, not through privilege, but through resilience and perseverance.

Because of her passion for women’s interests, she said she was particularly pleased to be patron of the National Championships during National Women’s Month. “Netball is a sport that has done much for girls and women throughout South Africa,” she said. “There are few women in the country who have not been involved in netball at some time in their lives, and I salute what Netball South Africa is doing to develop the sport at all levels. I look forward to seeing the cream of South African netball in action next week.”

The tournament starts on Monday August 5 and ends on Saturday August 10.


LEARN MORE ABOUT NETBALL ONEVERYTHING NETBALL

Johannesburg, South Africa - There’s good news for netball fans who complain that their
sport does not receive adequate media attention – for the next six months, SuperSport 4 will be broadcasting a monthly half-hour magazine programme called “Everything Netball.”

The name says it all – the programme will cover all aspects of the most popular women’s sport in the country, from development programmes and primary school netball to the pride of South Africa – the SPAR Proteas, who were recently crowned champions of Africa.

“This is going to do so much for netball,” enthused Netball South Africa (NSA) Vice President Blanche de la Guerre. “It will put netball on the map and people will be able to see what the sport is all about. Many people know very little about netball and are unaware of what we do. For instance, most people don’t know that there are 47 netball regions in the country, and most women will have played it at some stage in their lives.

“People will also be able to see what a vibrant and exciting game it is. Those who dismiss it as a game for schoolgirls will see how much skill and athletic ability is needed at the top level. Netball will be in the face of the viewers, and that will raise our profile.”

The first programme will be aired just days before the annual SPAR National Championships in Rustenburg, where 42 teams, divided into three sections, will be vying for the chance to be named South African champions.

The programmes will be made available on YouTube, for the benefit of those who do not have access to DSTV. Catch the launch programme on Supersport 4 and HD on Thursday 1 August at 19h30 prime time.

SuperSport have also agreed to broadcast all international matches involving the SPAR Proteas at home, and will endeavor to cover international matches where possible.


NETBALL PLAYERS COACHING FOR MADIBA

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s top netball players are planning to pay tribute to former President Nelson Mandela by spending their 67 minutes coaching netball in under-privileged areas.

“He is such an awesome example,” said the captain of the SPAR national team, Maryka Holtzhausen. “We wish him everything of the best on his 95th birthday, and I can assure him that we will be spending a lot more than 67 minutes coaching in under-privileged areas. In this way, we can do our part in ensuring that his legacy lives on long after he is no longer with us,” she said.

“It’s very fitting that we should pay tribute to Madiba in this way,” said head coach Elize Kotze. “He has always been associated with sport – he was a boxer in his youth, and he has been a loyal supporter of all our national teams. Many visiting teams often felt that the South Africans had an advantage because of ‘the Mandela Magic’. “So I think he would love the thought of young women paying tribute to him and continuing his legacy of service by assisting in the development of even younger South Africans.”

Mike Prentice Group Marketing Executive of netball sponsors SPAR, said that they were proud to be associated with such a committed sport. “SPAR is proud to be associated with a team that is dedicated to giving back to the community, and that is focused on making every day a Mandela day. We wish Tata the very best.”


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA SELECTS STRONG UNDER-21 TEAM

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is only one new cap in the SPAR South African Under-21 netball team selected for the world youth championships in Glasgow next month. “We have brought in Lisa-Marie Wiese to replace Melanie von Gunter, who is injured, but other than that, we have stuck to the squad that has been together since September last year,” explained Netball South Africa’s Director of Selections, Christine du Preez.

Back row (l-r): Nobubele Phuza, Lisa-Marie Wiese, Bongolethu Ngubeni, Mari-Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson, Juline Rossouw(Non Traveling), Izette Lubbe.
Front row (l-r): Danielle Willemse, Kefiloe Tsotsetsi, Zandre Kruger, Deancke Rohde, Simphiwe Sithebe, Shadine van der Merwe, Sheherezide Duimpies (Non Traveling), Nontuthuko Khomo (Non Traveling).
Picture provided by Newton PR Communications


“The team we have chosen is a strong one, both physically and mentally, and they are a highly disciplined unit. Because they have been together for so long, they also work very well as a unit,” she said.

The players have been attending monthly training camps, as well as following personal training programmes developed for each player by a bio-kineticist. The SPAR Baby Proteas will take part in the men’s competition at the national championships in Rustenburg early next month. “We want to give them some game time before they leave for Glasgow, and the men provide a different perspective. Men’s netball tends to be very fast, which will be to their advantage when they play in the world championships,” said Du Preez.

South Africa have been drawn in Pool A, which includes Australia, Fiji, Israel and Namibia.
“It’s quite a tough group,” said Du Preez. “Australia and Fiji are always tough competitors, and we won’t be taking victory over Israel and Namibia for granted either. We don’t know yet who we play first, but we’re hoping to get off to a good start so that we can develop some momentum.”

SPAR Under21 team: Deancke Rohde, Danielle Willemse, Mari-Lena Joubert, Lisa-Marie Wiese, Bongolethu Ngobeni, Izette Lubbe, Simphiwe Sithebe, Nobubele Phuza, Rochelle Lawson, Shadine van der Merwe, Kefilowe Tsotetsi, Zandre Kruger.


SPAR PROTEAS TOP IN AFRICA

Blantyre, Malawi – After a nail biting match against their netball nemesis Malawi, the SPAR Proteas regained their title of top team in Africa when they won 54-52 in the final of the African Netball Championships.

“It was war out there today” said head coach Elize Kotze in a post-match interview. “Once again, it was very physical, and playing amidst a huge Malawian crowd was very intimidating, but we did it.”

Starting off well in the first quarter, the SPAR Proteas were settled in their combinations, and proved to match the Malawians in their attack, resulting in a one goal lead after the end of the first quarter. Malawi fought back but the girls in green and gold maintained their lead, to end half time with a 25-20 lead.

However, things started to get ugly in the third quarter when Malawi gained momentum and had outscored South Africa by 36 goals to 33 after that quarter whistle. In true African netball style the Malawi Queens were not afraid to use force to get their way, and Captain Maryka Holtzhausen had to be side-lined after being hit in the face in the fourth quarter. South Africa was 7 goals down, and it was at this point that Kotze made a number of changes, putting Erin Burger on goal attack and Yolandi Stone on wing attack. Adele Niemand (who earned her 50th cap in Thursday’s match against Uganda) made a critical intercept in the last two minutes of regulation time, to bring the score down to a one goal difference. The SPAR Proteas then went on to equal the score two seconds before the final whistle at 44 all.

A team talk, and the motivation of winning for Tata Madiba gave the SPAR Proteas that extra shove, and after half time of extra time, South Africa led 48-46. Maryka had returned to court, and order had been restored, with Erin Burger replacing the Tiger Bongiwe Msomi, who was suffering from cramps, in centre. When the final whistle blew, the SPAR Proteas celebrated their 54-52 win, and the Malawian crowd dispersed in tears.

“I am extremely proud” said Kotze. “We have now lost the Malawi ghost, and are officially top in Africa and fifth in the world.”


UGANDA GIVES THE SPAR PROTEAS A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY

Blantyre, Malawi – Despite sailing through the first two games of the African Netball Championships, the SPAR Proteas were given a run for their money in Thursday’s match against Uganda. The SPAR Proteas just won with 46 to Uganda’s 39.

Known for their rough and aggressive style of play; the Ugandan’s lived up to their reputation. Using tempestuous and dirty tactic, the Ugandan team pushed and shoved their way into a lead in the second quarter, leaving the SPAR Proteas trailing by 16 goals to 19 for the first time in the championships.

Playing for her 50th cap, Vanes-Mari du Toit earned her stripes, when she took on the position of goal shooter in the third and fourth quarter to combat the destruction caused by Ugandan goal keeper Martha Soigi, who was eventually sent off in the third quarter for foul play. “It was an intensely physical game” said head coach Elize Kotze after the match. “Our girls showed extreme character in very difficult circumstances, and we pulled through.”

“We had to adjust to the unpredictable and direct style of African netball, and change our defence which is not in our nature. But now we are well prepared and confident for the semi-finals tomorrow against Zambia. Malawi still have to survive Uganda.”

The SPAR Proteas who wore red armbands in tribute to South African icon Nelson Mandela, will play Zambia tomorrow at 11h00, after their nemesis Malawi takes on Uganda at 09h00. The finals will be played at 14h00.


SPAR PROTEAS SAIL INTO SEMIS

Blantyre, Malawi – The SPAR Proteas eased into the semi-finals of the African Netball Championships when they outplayed Swaziland by 73-28 goals in their match on Wednesday.

Unaffected by the harsh African conditions of playing outdoors in the midday sun, the SPAR Proteas showed their strength against their physical opponents. “We had a good game” said coach Elize Kotze after the match, “We had to keep motivated due to our strong lead, but we kept the focus and are setting our combinations for the final.”

Asset Vanes-Mari du Toit had a brilliant game, and her height which outmatches any of the other players was a huge advantage; “Vanes-Mari had a fantastic game on goalkeeper. The Swaziland team was extremely physical in their goal circle, and they have some tall players, but they can’t match Vanes.” Despite the turnaround of players in each of the quarters, Swaziland was no competition for the girls in green and gold.

South Africa will take on Uganda in tomorrow’s game at 16h00. Aware that this is an incredibly physical team, the SPAR Proteas will be relying on their speed; “Defence is always tough against African countries because it is difficult to read the play” said assistant coach Lana Krige. “But we play a faster game, which helps with possession of the ball. We don’t need to play such a physical game when we have speed on our side.”

The semi-finals will be played on Friday at 11h00 against pool 1’s runner up, followed by the finals against Malawi at 14h00.


SPAR PROTEAS OFF TO A WINNING START

Blantyre, Malawi – The SPAR Proteas launched their African Championships campaign with a winning start in their match against Namibia on Tuesday.

Feeling upbeat and confident going into today’s game, the SPAR Proteas used the match as a platform to test out combinations and pairings for the final, where they are likely to take on Malawi. Despite a bit of a slow start, the South African side had doubled their opponent’s points by the end of the first quarter, and carried the lead through to the end, where they defeated the Namibian team 75-34.

“We are playing some beautiful netball” said head coach Elize Kotze after the game, “The girls are adapting well and are strong minded. Colleen Ferreira was a stronghold in the tie, and it is a blessing to have Erin Burger back in the squad, who makes a huge difference on attack.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s game where South Africa will take on Swaziland, Kotze is optimistic. “We will be analysing Swaziland this afternoon. It is difficult playing African countries because we have nothing on the teams, but we know that they play direct netball. We are not expecting them to be stronger than Namibia”


PROTEAS READY TO MEET AND BEAT MALAWI

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team and their long-standing rivals, Malawi, have been drawn in separate pools at the African Netball Championships in Blantyre next week.

Nokuthula Qegu in action against Malawi during the final match of the 2012 Diamond Challenge.
Pic by: Reg Caldecott


Malawi are in Pool 1, with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, while South Africa are joined in Pool 2 by Namibia, Swaziland and Uganda.

The tournament begins on Monday, with an opening ceremony followed by the match between hosts Malawi and neighbours Zimbabwe. South Africa play Namibia on Tuesday morning, Swaziland on Wednesday afternoon, and they round up the Pool section of the tournament when they take on Uganda on Thursday evening.

Malawi and South Africa, the strongest teams in the tournament, are expected to cruise through the pool matches and the semi-finals and meet in the final at two o’clock on Friday afternoon.

Malawi have long been South Africa’s nemesis, although the South Africans have had the upper hand in recent encounters. National coach Elize Kotze believes the SPAR Proteas are well-prepared for the championships and should return home with the title. Despite the set-back of losing a player, as Nontle Gwavu had to pull out last minute due to injury, the coach is optimistic.

“Their experience in the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England last year should prove invaluable,” she said. “They learnt so much about decision-making and thinking on their feet,” she said. “We have a very mature and experienced team, and there is great understanding among the players. African teams are often very physical and unpredictable, but we are ready for them.”


SPAR PROTEAS A BLEND OF THE OLD AND THE NEW

Johannesburg, South Africa - Some familiar faces have returned to the SPAR National Netball Team announced by Netball South Africa (NSA) on Wednesday.

Back row (l-r): Colleen Ferreira, Adele Niemand, Tsakane Mbewe, Karla Mostert, Thuli Qegu, Zanele Mdodana, Maryka Holzhausen, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Nontle Gwavu.
Front row (l-r): Yolandi Saalmans, Precious Mthembu, Erin Burger, Bongiwe Msomi.

Yolandi Saalmans in action against the SPAR Baby Proteas, during a training match held in Potchefstroom this past weekend.
Pictures by: Mario van de Wall


“We’ve chosen a very strong and mature team for the African Championships in Malawi,” said head coach Elize Kotze. “We’re delighted to welcome back players like Yolandi Saalmans, who played for South Africa as long ago as 2006, and Nontle Gwavu,” she said.

“Yolandi, who is married now and has a child, has been to a couple of training camps and has done very well. She’s very talented and committed, and has a lot of experience, which will be very valuable. She is extremely fit – in fact, she ranked third when we tested the players’ fitness at our training camp in Potchefstroom last weekend. Mimi Mthethwa, President NSA, said that they were happy to have found another specialist wing attack in Yolandi, as Nadia Uys is still struggling with an injury.

“I’m also very pleased that Nontle has come back and has shown that she is keen to play for South Africa again. I think it’s a compliment that these semi-retired players are coming back.”

A number of senior members of the national team were unavailable for selection, either because of injury or work commitments, but Kotze was happy with the team selected. “It’s also wonderful to have Erin Burger (Player of the Tournament at the 2011 World Netball Championships) back in the team, after recovering from injury. She is such a versatile player and has so much talent that she always makes a difference,” said Kotze.

The coach said the experience the SPAR Proteas gained from playing in the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England last year was proving invaluable. “They moved to a different level, as far as their thinking and decision-making is concerned,” she said. “They have been growing with every training camp, and they are really ready to take on the best Africa has to offer. Tournaments in Africa are always tough – conditions are often difficult, and the players can be very physical and unpredictable. But the Proteas played the best in the world last year, and came back with their heads held high,” she said.

There is only one new cap in the team, with Colleen Ferreira coming in as goalshooter. “Melissa Myburgh and Chrisna Bootha have both been out with injury, and so we have brought Colleen in. She’s an extremely physical player, and will certainly be able to stand her ground against any other player,” said Kotze. Colleen was previously ranked 4th on the squad’s list of shooters by selectors at the last SPAR National Championships, and so was invited to the training camp, where she proved herself as a player for selection for the African Championships.

Maryka Holtzhausen will captain the team, in the absence of Amanda Mynhardt, who is playing netball in New Zealand, and Bongiwe Msomi has been named vice-captain.
The championships start on Monday and end on Saturday.

SPAR National team: Tsakane Mbewe, Maryka Holtzhausen (captain), Yolandi Saalmans, Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain), Erin Burger, Nokuthula Qegu, Precious Mthebu, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Nontle Gwavu, Colleen Ferreira, Vanes-Mari du Toit.


EASY WIN FOR SPAR BABY PROTEAS

Pretoria, South Africa – The SPAR Baby Proteas marched to an easy win in the final test of the U21 test series, played at the LC De Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria on Monday evening, when they beat Zimbabwe 53-27.

The SPAR Baby Proteas after their test series win against Zimbabwe and Botswana, played at the LC De Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria.

Player of the match Rochelle Lawson in action during South Africa’s test against Zimbabwe on Monday night.
Pictures by Reg Caldecott


The SPAR South African team set the pace of the match when they scored the first goal within a minute of the start whistle, and followed by an intercept, monopolising on the basic errors that were being made by their Zimbabwean opponents. South African goal defence Rochelle Lawson had a great game, and was responsible for the majority of those intercepts. She was later announced best defence player, as well as player of the tournament.

Capitalising on their lead that continued into the second quarter, the SPAR Baby Proteas were not afraid to make ambitious moves, even if they didn’t always go their way. Mari-Lena Joubert on goal attack was taking some bold shots at goal, and at half time the girls in green and gold were leading 30-11.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst made a number of changes in the third quarter, which didn’t bode well for the South African team. Zimbabwe played this to their advantage and outscored the South Africans by 9 goals, to their 8. However, this was turned back around in the last quarter with the re-introduction of some key players. “We are struggling at this stage with our second line up” said coach Dorette Badenhorst, “so it is important for us to go back and work with those players.” There is still a lot of hard work for us ahead of the World Youth Championships in August, but we have got the talent, now we just need to work with that talent.”


BABY PROTEAS OFF TO A WINNING START

Pretoria, South Africa - The SPAR Baby Proteas got the Under 21 Tri-Nations netball tournament against Botswana and Zimbabwe off to the perfect start with a 60-26 win over Botswana in the opening match at the Rembrandt Hall at the Tuks Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Deancke Rhode of the SPAR Baby Proteas in action against Botswana in the 1st test of the NSA u21 Tri-Nations Tournament being played at the University of Pretoria.

Deancke Rhode of the SPAR Baby Proteas in action against Botswana in the 1st test of the NSA u21 Tri-Nations Tournament being played at the University of Pretoria.


“We can take a lot out of this afternoon’s match,” said coach Dorette Badenhorst. “It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance, and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but at least we know what we need to work towards.”

South Africa started off at a terrific pace, scoring their first goal within the first 30 seconds. The Baby Proteas were dominant throughout the first half hour, leading 19-5 after the first quarter and 32-10 at halftime.

After the break, Badenhorst made a number of changes, and South Africa appeared to lose concentration. Botswana gained momentum, and were outscored by just one goal, with South Africa succeeding 11 times and Botswana 10. The Baby Proteas were guilty of some wild passes and they made some basic errors.

However, they stormed back again in the final quarter, outscoring the visitors by 17 goals to six. Goalshooter Deancke Rohde had an outstanding game, succeeding with more than 90 per cent of her attempts at goal, but her two goal attacks, Mari-Lena Joubert and Danielle Willemse were less accurate, with Joubert achieving a 60 per cent accuracy rate and Willemse 50 per cent.

However, the star of the show was the captain, Simphiwe Sithebe, who first played wing defence before moving to centre. “She’s our most experienced player,” said Badenhorst.
“She went to the last junior world championships as a very young player, and the world championships in Glasgow will be her second. “Simphiwe has a very important role to play, and I was very pleased with the way she controlled the game this afternoon.”

On Sunday, Botswana will play Zimbabwe at 3pm, and South Africa will take on Zimbabwe in the final match at 6.30 pm on Monday.

The Tri-nations tournament is part of the SPAR Baby Proteas’ preparations for the world championships. They will have a practice match against their senior counterparts on Sunday.


BIG WEEKEND FOR SPAR BABY PROTEAS

Pretoria, South Africa - The ‘SPAR Baby Proteas’ have a big weekend ahead of them, when they take on the Malawi and Botswana Under-21 netball teams in a Tri-nations series in Pretoria.

The series will be part of the SPAR South African Under-21 team’s preparations for the world under-21 championships in Glasgow in August. “I’m very pleased we are getting an opportunity to play Malawi, because they have one of the strongest Under-21 teams in Africa,” said SPAR Under-21 coach Dorette Badenhorst. “It will be very good preparation for the world championships because we are going to have to play very well to beat them. The last time we played them, at the Cosana Games, they were number one in Africa,” she said. Botswana also have a strong team and competition among the three leading netball nations in Africa is expected to be fierce.

The Tri-Nations series will be played at the Rembrandt Hall at the LC de Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. South Africa will open the series when they take on Botswana at 3pm on Saturday. Malawi and Botswana will meet at 3pm on Sunday and South Africa will play Malawi in the final match, at 6.30pm on Monday. All three matches will be televised on Supersport.

Netball fans will also have an opportunity to see the SPAR Proteas in action on Saturday, when the senior team play a Gauteng Invitation team as a curtain-raiser to the main match.

Badenhorst said the Under-21 team was in good condition and there were no injury problems. “We are very happy that we will be getting some game time,” she said. “If we hadn’t had this opportunity, we would only have the Diamond Challenge, where we will be playing as an invitation team, before the world championships. “You can practice as much as you like, and hold as many training camps as possible, but what is really important is time on the court, when the players really learn to play as a team.”

Malawi and Botswana are not taking part in the world championships. Namibia, who have been drawn in the same group as South Africa, are the only other African team taking part in the world championships.


TOUGH CHALLENGE FOR JUNIOR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African Under-21 netball team have a tough challenge in their opening match at the World Junior championships in Glasgow in August when they come up against defending champions Australia.

SPAR Protea Melissa Myburgh snatches the ball from U21 player Nobubele Phuza during a practice match played on Saturday 20 April 2013 in Potchefstroom.

Izette Lubbe (U21) aims to get past SPAR Proteas Karla Mostert and Nontle Gwavu to teammate Deancke Rohde.
Pictures by: Mario van de Wall


South Africa have been drawn in Group A, with Australia, Fiji, Israel and Namibia. New Zealand are the top seeds in Group B, which includes Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, Northern Ireland and Malta. Group C comprises of Jamaica, Wales, Samoa, Scotland and the Cayman Islands, and Group D is made up of England, Barbados, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Ireland.

“We’re in quite a difficult group,” said Under-21 coach Dorette Badenhorst. “Australia won the last junior championships and Fiji finished just behind us. We have to beat either one of them, or both, if we want to qualify for the Top Eight.”

Badenhorst said that while meeting Australia in their opening match would be difficult, she believed the Junior Proteas would be up to the challenge. “We are now training with the SPAR Proteas, and playing against the top players in the country will help the Under-21s get ready to meet Australia. We played the Proteas during our training camp in Potchefstroom last week, and while the Under 21s were a bit over-awed in the first two quarters, they came back strongly in the third and fourth quarters. “I definitely believe we have it in us to perform well.”

The coach said South Africa would not take victory over Israel and Namibia for granted.
“We will take every match very seriously, but we think Australia and Fiji will be the most difficult to overcome,” she said. “We are determined to get through to the Top Eight, after which we will play crossover matches against the England group.”

Badenhorst said the extension of SPAR’s sponsorship to the Under-21 team meant that the Junior Proteas would be better prepared for the world championships. “They will be able to have more training camps, and we will be working closely with the senior Proteas and getting the benefit of their experience. I’m confident that we are going to do better than our eighth position at the last junior world championships,” she said. The Junior Proteas will also be playing in a test series in May as preparations for their tour to Glasgow.


NETBALL PAVES THE WAY FOR WOMEN’S SPORT

Johannesburg, South Africa - Sport and Recreation Director-General Alec Moemi has appealed to the private sector to invest in women’s sport in South Africa, and in netball in particular.

Alec Moemi addresses the media at the Southern Sun Hyde Park yesterday, during the announcement of SPAR’s renewal of their sponsorship of netball.
Pic by: Reg Caldecott


Speaking at the announcement that SPAR had extended its 10-year sponsorship of netball for another three years, Moemi described the grocery giant as a trailblazer in women’s sports.
“Netball is the biggest women’s sport and the second biggest sport overall in South Africa, and investment in netball is investment in South Africa.”

He said that the national sports plan that was developed in 2011 had agreed that the promotion of women’s sport needed to be prioritised as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty and of getting more women involved in physical activity. “One of the biggest challenges is access to sport, and netball has led the way,” he said. “Netball reaches into the most remote parts of South Africa and the success of the SPAR Proteas means that girls all over the country have outstanding role models to look up to.

“It is a shining example of what can be achieved. Netball embraced transformation as an imperative and has made great strides in this regard, having achieved greater transformation than many other sporting codes.”

Moemi said the professionalisation of netball was critical to the future of the sport. “At present, the SPAR Proteas are volunteers, who have to take leave to represent their country. Although they are amateurs, they have proved to be a force in international netball, and have out-performed some other sporting codes on the international stage. “If we are to achieve our aim of making South Africa the number one nation in netball, we need to ensure that the players get as much experience as possible.

To achieve this, the Department is developing a professional netball league, involving 10 clubs spread across South Africa. The government is looking for sponsors for the clubs, who will then employ the players. This will mean that top netball players, like other professional sportsmen, will be able to devote their time to their sport instead of worrying about putting food on the table, and a professional league would mean the top players get regular game time at a very high level,” said Moemi.

He said negotiations for sponsors were going well, and he was confident the professional league would be in operation before the end of the year.


FEAST OF NETBALL IN TSHWANE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Scores of netball players will descend on the Korfbalpark in Gezina, on Saturday for the annual Tshwane Club Development Challenge.

Netball is the most popular women’s sport in South Africa, but many young women stop playing after they leave school. The Development Challenge is partly aimed at ensuring that they remain involved in the sport. It offers clubs the opportunity to test their strength against other clubs and to attract new players. Senior and Under-19 teams from 24 clubs in the seven regions of Tshwane will take part.

“It’s a fun day,” said tournament director Claudine Claassen. “The players will receive t-shirts and goody-bags, and they will also have the opportunity to meet members of the SPAR national netball squad, who represent the cream of netball in South Africa,” she said. “We hope people will turn out in their numbers to watch the netball and support their local club.”

The clubs have also been encouraged to bring along young umpires, who stand a chance of travelling to Jamaica to take part in a young umpires training programme in later this year.
Jamaica is the only country that has a formal young umpires training programme, and has agreed to involve young South Africans in the programme, which is open to girls and boys inside and outside of Gauteng, between the ages of 15 and 20.

Netball South Africa (NSA) has given their full support of the programme, and will be involved in the nomination of the group chosen to travel to Jamaica. “If we are to grow our sport and increase our international ranking, we need outstanding officials as well as players,” said Claassen. “We will use the Development Challenge as an opportunity to identify some talented young umpires.”

Registration for the tournament opens at 7h30am, and the prize-giving ceremony will be just before 4pm.


SOUTH AFRICA UNDER 21 TRIUMPHANT IN SINGAPORE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African Under-21 netball squad made a clean sweep of all their matches in their short tour of Singapore.

The SA U21 squad sent to Singapore during their pre-departure camp on 26 January 2013.
L-r. (Behind): Deancke Rohde, Zandré Kruger, Nobubele Phuza, Simphiwe Sithebe, Fortunate Bagula, Melanie von Gunten, Danellé Willemse and Mari-Lena Joubert.
Front: Izette Lubbe, Bhongolethu Ngubeni, Nothando Mhlongo, Nontuthuko Khomo, Juline Rossouw, Shadine van der Merwe and Rochelle Lawson.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The Under-21s played the Singapore Under-21, Malaysia Schools and the Singapore Open team during their brief visit.

Squad coach Dorette Badenhorst is very happy with the outcome of the matches, with South Africa showing complete dominance on the court. “We have a great group of players with a lot of potential,” said Badenhorst. “This ensures some exciting combinations, and I expect a good performance at the World Cup.”

She said the players had learned a good deal during the tour. “It was a learning experience both on and off the court,” she said. “For some of the players, it was their first time out of South Africa, and they now know something of the challenges that playing away from their country can bring. The players supported one another and this helped them deal effectively with difficult circumstances, such as the extreme heat and humidity. “They also adapted quickly to playing on the international stage. Once again, the support for one another was very important, especially for those who had won their first caps.”

The tour of Singapore formed part of the squads’ preparations for the Under-21 World Youth Championships in Glasgow in August, and Badenhorst believed it was important that the momentum gained in Singapore should be maintained.

“We (the management team) need to see the players at least once a month,” she said.
“We need more game time together, and the key to our preparations will be managing the players and their coaches.”

RESULTS FROM THE SA U21 TOUR TO SINGAPORE
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 65-26
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 70-29
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 62-31
SA U21 bt Malaysia Sport School 50-35
SA U21 bt Singapore Opens 57-33
SA U21 bt Singapore Opens 54-20


STRONG SQUAD FOR UNDER21 NETBALL CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) selectors announced on Sunday a strong South African Under21 squad for a short tour to Singapore as part of their preparations for the Under 21 World Youth Championships in Glasgow in August.

L-r. (Back row) Fortunate Bagula, Rochelle Lawson, Dorette Badenhorst (Coach), Izette Lubbe, Danellé Willemse, Nobubele Phuza, Nontuthuko Khomo, Bhongolethu Ngubeni, Simphiwe Sithebe, Charlotte Scholtz (Asst. coach), Zandré Kruger, Deancke Rohde, Shadine van der Merwe, Nothando Mhlongo, Tumi Komane (Physiotherapist), Elize Kotze (SPAR Proteas national team coach) and Christine du Preez (Director selectors NSA).
(Front row) (Kneeling) Melanie von Gunten and Rochelle Lawson. (Standing) Mimi Mthethwa (President NSA), Thana Basiretsi (Manager) and Juline Rossouw.

L-r. (Back row): Dorette Badenhorst (Coach), Deancke Rohde, Zandré Kruger, Nobubele Phuza, Simphiwe Sithebe, Juline Rossouw, Melanie von Gunten, Danellé Willemse and Charlotte Scholtz (Asst. coach).
(Front row) Izette Lubbe, Bhongolethu Ngubeni, Nothando Mhlongo, Nontuthuko Khomo, Fortunate Bagula, Shadine van der Merwe, Rochelle Lawson and Mari-Lena Joubert.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


“It’s a brilliant squad,” said NSA Director of Selectors, Christine du Preez. “They have the potential to be gold medal winners, and they are all very good future prospects for the SPAR national team.”

The under 21 training squad has been attending a training camp in Pretoria, and the team leave on Monday for the tour which will include three matches against the Singapore Under 21 team, two against the Singapore Open team and one against Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

“We plan to use this tour to see who copes best with the pressure of playing away from home and to see what we need to do to prepare for the World Youth Championships,” said Under 21 coach Dorette Badenhorst. “I am very excited about this squad. They have only had three training camps, and because they come from all over South Africa, they’ve had to work on their own, following their individualised and specialized fitness programmes. “We have been able to see the effect of their hard work, and it shows how much it means to them to be in the squad. “I have been particularly impressed by their discipline both on and off the court.”

Badenhorst said the Singapore tour was just the start of the preparations for the World Youth Championships. “Traditionally, the Under21 squad doesn’t get to play very often, so this tour will be very valuable. After that, we will take things month by month, but are planning some exciting games with regional teams, the SPAR Protea team and perhaps even a tri-nations.”

South African Under21 Netball squad to tour Singapore:
Danellé Willemse, Deancke Rohde, Mari-Lena Joubert, Melanie von Gunten, Bhongolethu Ngubeni, Izette Lubbe, Nontuthuko Khomo, Nothando Mhlongo, Simphiwe Sithebe, Mukozo Fortunate Bagula, Nobulele Phuza, Rochelle Lawson, Shadine van der Merwe, Juline Rossouw, Zandré Kruger


NETBALLERS REJOICE WITH THEIR HOCKEY SISTERS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Members of the SPAR national netball team have congratulated the Investec women’s hockey team on the impressive milestones achieved in their World League match against Ghana at Hartleyvale in Cape Town on Tuesday night.

Captain Marsha Marescia became one of South Africa’s most-capped athletes when she ran on for her 300th Test, while Pietie Coetzee scored two goals to take her world record to 250 goals in 255 Test matches. South Africa beat Ghana 6-0.

“What a fantastic achievement,” said Proteas netball Captain Amanda Mynhardt. “The netball team has always followed the progress made by our hockey sisters, and we are so proud of what Marsha and Pietie in particular have achieved. “Marsha is one of South Africa’s top athletes, and we wish her well for the rest of the World League, and for 2013.

“As for Pietie, she just goes from strength to strength, and seems to be unstoppable. “We say ‘go girls, you make us so proud.’ ”

Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana was equally enthusiastic about the hockey team’s achievements. “They are outstanding role models for young South Africans. We look forward to joining hands with them as part of Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year,” she said. “Congratulations to Marsha and Pietie on their incredible achievements, and we wish all the hockey players everything of the best for the coming year.”


SOUTH AFRICAN UMPIRE OFF TO A FLYING START

Johannesburg, South Africa – South African netball umpire Theresa Prince is off to a flying start, as she begins her year officiating a test series between reigning world champions Australia, and third ranked England in January.

Theresa Prince of Nelson Mandela Bay has been making tracks in the umpiring circuit, as she was invited by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) to officiate the World Netball Championships in Singapore and the FastNet final in 2011, as well as a Test Series between netball greats Australia and New Zealand last September. “I am very excited to have been invited to umpire a top test series again” said a humble Theresa Prince after the announcement was made. “It is an honour to represent my country.”

Netball South Africa’s (NSA) Director of Umpires Hannette Brewer was thrilled with the invitation, and commented on behalf of the Executive; “Theresa is an inspiration to all South African Umpires. Her achievements are a showcase of South Africa’s potential to be amongst the top in the world.”


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA HAS NOTHING TO PROVE – MTHETHWA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) on Tuesday angrily rejected weekend claims of a lack of transformation in the sport, but acknowledged that there was a need to improve the support system for disadvantaged black players. “At this stage, we have nothing to prove as far as transformation is concerned,” declared NSA President Mimi Mthethwa.

Mthethwa was responding to criticism of the team selected for the recent Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand, during which South Africa played the three top-ranked netball countries, Australia, New Zealand and England. “Everyone has an opportunity from early on in their lives to play netball, which is well established in all communities. NSA has national platforms, in the form of the national championships, where players are given a chance to perform and show the selectors what they can do,” said Mthethwa. “Top players at these championships are identified and put onto a national training programme, with a view to being given a chance to represent South Africa.”

Mthethwa said she believed NSA had a duty to do more to provide players from remote areas with mentors who could help them to adhere to the training programmes. “Very often, these players go back to their regions, but because they have no-one to assist them and encourage them, they are unable to keep up with the demands of the fitness programmes they have been asked to follow.

We have found that it is usually black players who live in the remote areas who are not able to maintain the required level of fitness. “Just about all the white players in the national training squads are attached to universities, and have access to the facilities needed to comply with their fitness programmes. They also have the support of the university coaching staff, who are able to monitor and guide them,” said Mthethwa.

She pointed out that black players who were attached to universities were able to meet the requisite fitness levels. “Bongiwe Msomi is one of the fittest of all the players,” she said. “This meant that she was able to play much of the time during the Quad Series. Putting players who were not fit enough into the team would just have been setting them up for failure.”

Although there were only three black players – Msomi, Zanele Mdodana and Thuli Qegu in the Quad Series squad, Mthethwa pointed out that three others – Precious Mthembu, Simnikwe Mdaka and Nontle Gwavu – had been selected, but were not available because of work commitments.
Mthethwa rejected as “silly” criticism of South Africa’s performance in the Quad Series, where the Proteas failed to win any of their six matches. “We didn’t go there thinking we were going to win,” she said. “We were playing the three top teams in the world. We went there to learn and to find out what we needed to do to become one of the top teams. We did not win, but we have beaten Jamaica, who are ranked fourth, and one of these days we will beat third ranked England. If we are going to do that, we need to have the best players available.”


WORLD-RENOWNED SUTTON, A MASTER OF CUTTING EDGE TENNIS

Stellenbosch, Western Province – South African tennis have palpably secured a massive fillip with the input of Richard Sutton at the week-long training camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport over the past few days.
Sutton, a clinical Kinesiologist and visceral Osteopath specialising in sports injuries and high-level athletic development, has enjoyed worldwide acclaim for his sterling work with athletes, and tennis players in particular over the past decade. He’s travelled on tennis’s world circuits and has worked with at least five former No 1s, and a host of top tenners.

KNOW THE DRILL … Professor Richard Sutton, a clinical Kinesiologist and visceral Osteopath, puts a junior through his paces during a training session at Bloemhof Girls’ High School.

SLICE OF THE ACTION … Thomas Högstedt, one of the best coaches in world tennis, is all concentration as he makes a point during a coaching session at Bloemhof Girls’ High School.
Pictures by: Thys Lombard


For four years, he served as the Director for Physical Development at the National Olympic Training Centre in Beijing China, where he worked with Chinese Olympic sports teams. During his stint there, China became an Olympic Games super power.

For the past few days in Stellenbosch, Sutton worked in tandem with Thomas Högstedt, one of the best coaches in world tennis. Högstedt has often called on the Johannesburg-born Sutton to work with players, who were under his guidance. Some of the players include women’s world No 2 Maria Sharapova, Germany’s Tommy Haas and China’s Li Na.

In a media interview Sutton outlined his role at Stellenbosch, were some the country’s leading juniors, coaches and parents were in attendance.
“The week has been more than a training camp, it’s about education,” said Sutton. “We’ve tried to include the parents and coaches as much as possible. We’ve tried to educate the players by having a briefing, like a lecture, on why and what we did (during training) and how to move forward. This understanding will equip players to take the right path ahead.”

Sutton said that in the past not enough attention was paid to the physical demands in sport generally but he was pleased that more and more people have started to realise the need for help. Högstedt supported this view and as a tennis coach he’s making more and more provision for physical training rather than only tennis work outs.
Sutton feels players can reach their true potential if their training is fundamentally correct.

There were few kids who really stood out (at Stellenbosch) when it comes to physical potential and provided they keep in a structure, a system, and keep evolving, I think the sky is the limit (in terms of achievement),” said Sutton. “There is a danger that if they (juniors) go too high, too soon into the activity (like tennis) the ultimate reality is that there is going to be burn-out. There should be a diversification of activity, like for example Björn Borg (a former world No 1) was playing ice-hockey (as a junior). There are a lot of other top players as well who had other sports as part of their lifestyle routine. This has helped to provide a stimulus for several factors in their development as tennis players.
“Specialised training has to be introduced gradually, and scientifically, and it has to take into account the player’s ago and physical development.”

One of the coaches who attended the week-long session at Stellenbosch was Laura le Sueur, who played Federation Cup for South Africa in the early seventies. Nowadays she’s based in Rondebosch, where she works with juniors. “It’s been wonderful experience just seeing Högstedt and Sutton working with the kids,” said Le Sueur. “These people are on top of the game and work with the best in the world. It was a wonderful initiative by Tennis South Africa, and we’ve come away with so much information that would be of great benefit to all in tennis.”


PROTEAS CLINCH BRONZE MEDAL AT FAST5 NETBALL TOURNAMENT

Johannesburg, South Africa – The Spar National netball team took third place in the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand, with a thrilling 38-34 win over Jamaica in the third place play off on Sunday.
It was South Africa’s best performance in an international tournament since they won silver at the world championships in Birmingham in 1995.

Runners-up England outplayed the Proteas in their semifinal, played earlier in the day, beating them 39-15. England controlled possession throughout the match, denying the South Africans the opportunity to go for goals, and even in their power play quarter, where goals are doubled, the Proteas could only add two points. The normally reliable goal shooting duo, Chrisna Bootha and Maryke Holtzhausen, appeared flustered and appeared unable to get the ball through the hoop.

South Africa got off to a slow start in the third place play-off, and Jamaica roared into an 11-4 lead in the first quarter, with their ultra-tall goalshooter, Jhanielle Fowler, content to shoot from the one-point zone and rack up the goals.

The Proteas opted to take their power play in the second quarter, and it was then that they stamped their authority on the match. Bootha scored two goals from the two-point zone and two from the three-point zone, to add 20 points to their total.

With South Africa leading 26-16 at halftime, Jamaica took their power play in the third quarter in an attempt to catch up, but the Proteas restricted them to 10 points, while adding six of their own to lead 32-26.
In the final quarter, the Proteas retained possession of the ball for much of the time, to deny the Jamaicans the chance to reduce the deficit. The Jamaicans were reluctant to attempt goals from the two and three point zones, whereas the Proteas were prepared to throw caution to the winds and go for the riskier shots.

South Africa’s victory was very much a team effort, with the Proteas going back to the basics and dictating the way the game was played. Centre court players Bongiwe Msomi and Simnikiwe Mdaka, sporting a black eye after a collision with teammate Amanda Strydom on Saturday, both played pivotal roles in keeping the ball moving, while goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit showed she is a star of the future.
Captain Mdaka said the players were thrilled to be going home with a medal.

“We had to come from behind to win, but South Africans are fighters, and we never gave up hope,” she said. “We came here determined to win a medal – any medal – and it’s fantastic to have done that.”

New Zealand took gold, with a nail-biting 23-21 victory over England, while Malawi beat Australia 33-30 to take fifth place.


SOUTH AFRICA SHOOT THEIR WAY INTO SEMIFINALS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Superb shooting by Chrisna Bootha and Maryke Holtzhausen helped South Africa surprise the pundits on Saturday by storming into the semi-finals of the Fast5 World Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand.

The day started superbly for the Spar South African team when they hung on to beat the Australian Diamonds 28-27 in their first match of the day. The Proteas had a narrow 5-6 lead after the first quarter, but the Diamonds came back strongly in the second, adding seven points with the South Africans able to score only one goal.

The Proteas nominated the third quarter for their power play, where goals are doubled in value, and Bootha got them off to a great start with a super goal, or goal scored from outside the circle. The Proteas added 16 points in the quarter, to the five scored by Australia and then managed to keep the Diamonds from scoring too freely in their power play final quarter. With the seconds ticking down, the Proteas held onto possession until the final whistle to deny the Diamonds a goal which would have given the world champions their first win of the tournament. The difference between the two teams was that Bootha and Holtzhausen both succeeded with super goals, which are worth three points and six during a power play, while the Australians scored none.

The Proteas were brought back to earth with a bump in their second match, when they were completely outplayed by New Zealand, who beat them 52-19. The very experienced Silver Ferns, who included former Proteas Irene van Dyk and Leana de Bruin, played a very defensive game, making it difficult for the Proteas to get into a position to shoot. The only points South Africa scored in their power play quarter came from a six-pointer by Bootha.
“The players will have to learn to come down from a high, and focus on their next game,” said coach Lana Krige, while goal defence Vanes-Mari du Toit said she thought the Proteas may have been over-confident.
“I think, after beating Australia, we may have under-estimated New Zealand,” said Du Toit.

But the Proteas were certainly not guilty of under-estimating their final opponents of the day, the Malawi Queens. The rivalry between the two African teams is one of the fiercest in world netball, and there was the added incentive of a semi-final berth for the winner. The Queens were still celebrating their victory over England, while the Proteas’ loss to New Zealand made them even more determined to win. In the first half, South Africa maintained a very narrow lead over the Queens, but the Proteas surged ahead in the third quarter, which they had once again chosen for their power play. Bootha and Holtzhausen added 26 points in the quarter, to put South Africa into an almost unassailable 43-28 lead. Malawi selected the final quarter for their power play, but were unable to add more than six points. Once again, it was the South Africans’ strength in the two and three point zones that made the difference.

South Africa will play England in the semi-finals on Sunday, while New Zealand will play Jamaica.


SOUTH AFRICA DEEMED THE DARK HORSE OF FASTCOMPETITION

Johannesburg, South Africa – Considered as the ‘dark horse’ of the Fast 5 World Netball Series by the other teams, the SPAR Proteas showed what they are capable of in their first two matches of the tournament.

Opening the Fast 5 tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, the SPAR Proteas were up against the Sunshine Girls. After beating Jamaica in a test match earlier this year, and with the experience gained in the Quad Series, the Proteas walked on to court feeling confident.

Both teams looked a bit uncomfortable with the new format of the game in the first quarter, but Jamaica’s defence worked in their favour as they led by 8 goals to 3. However, preferring the safer route of shooting just under the post, Jamaica failed to capitalise on their Power Play in the second quarter, where all points scored are doubled, and the Proteas managed to narrow the gap to 11-14.

Riskier play by the Proteas suited them well in their Power Play third quarter, with Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen doing a brilliant job on goal. Ending the quarter on two six-pointers took SA into the lead at 29-18. Working as a unit and maintaining great speed through the court was a recipe for success as South Africa ran away with the lead and ended the game 34-25.

In their next match, the SPAR Proteas played a calculated game against the England side. Leading 11-5 after the first quarter, South Africa looked to be on top form. Working the rolling substitutions and aiming for the longer shots acted to the Proteas advantage and they continued to lead until the end of the third quarter. A surprise turn-around in the last quarter by England Shooter Jo Harten left everyone awe-struck, as she scored a number of 3pointers consecutively, to win England the game 41-27.

“We have had a great day” said SPAR Proteas Fast 5 Coach Lana Krige after the matches. “Everything worked well and all our players had court time. Chrisna and Maryka worked very well together, but tomorrow will be Nontle’s (Gwavu) test.”

In other matches England bt Australia 29-27; New Zealand drew against Jamaica 38-38; Malawi bt Australia 33-15; Jamaica bt Malawi 32-31; and New Zealand bt Australia 31-23.


SPAR PROTEAS READY FOR FAST 5

Johannesburg, South Africa – After 4 weeks of gruelling netball in the Quad Series, the SPAR Proteas are feeling confident ahead of the Fast 5 tournament.

Pitted against Jamaica in their first match in Auckland, New Zealand on Friday, Fast 5 coach Lana Krige says that her team is ready. “We have had some great practise sessions, playing against teams like Australia and England. We are expecting a tough challenge from Jamaica, especially considering that Fowler is such a great shooter, but our game has got much faster since we last played Jamaica in June.”

The new format of the Fast 5 game excites Krige, as she says that it adds to the speed and skill of netball. “I first thought that this type of game would be less tactical, but it is just as technical. Your timing has to be spot on, and if there are no opportunities, you just have to go for it.” Krige says that in this model of the game there is an advantage for each disadvantage; “As shots can be taken from outside the goal circle there is a higher risk in rebounds, and centre passes are more difficult due to less options on attack, but there is also the advantage of more space on court.”

Considering that rolling substitutions are such a vital part of the Fast 5 format, Krige said that her team was one of variation. “When choosing the Fast 5 team, we needed to look at defenders who could carry the ball, and shooters that could take far shots. Players need to be good at speed work, and make the most of opportunities with limited players on court.” Simnikiwe Mdaka is the new captain for the side and has been coined as a player of “flair and speed.” Other players who did not play in the Quad Series that are joining the team are defender Nontle Gwavu and goal shooter Tsakane Mbewe.

The SPAR Proteas team playing in Fast 5 this weekend are; Simnikiwe Mdaka (Captain), Maryka Holtzhausen (Vice-Captain), Chrisna Bootha, Tsakane Mbewe, Bongiwe Msomi, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Karla Mostert, Nontle Gwavu, and Amanda Mynhardt.

South Africa take on Jamaica in the opening match on Friday 9 November, and play England later that day. For the full draw of the Fast 5 please visit http://www.thebldgroup.com/the-clients/netball-south-africa-nsa/. All Fast 5 games will be broadcast Live on Supersport.


SPAR PROTEAS ADMIT DEFEAT

Johannesburg, South Africa – The SPAR Proteas dreams of winning their final match of the Quad Series were crushed in their game against England on Thursday. After losing to the English team by only 9 goals in their previous match, the Proteas were aiming for the win, but a number of errors and turnovers conceded left them with a final loss of 30 – 56.

The Proteas set off on a bad footing in the first quarter, losing their first centre and allowing England to run away with the ball. Five minutes into the game, England had scored 5 goals to South Africa’s 1, and this pattern continued throughout the quarter. Consistent basic errors from the Proteas in bad passes and judgement allowed the English side to exploit the situation and the gap widened to a final first quarter score of 17-5.

Managing to redeem themselves in the second quarter, the SPAR Proteas showed some of the skills that they had displayed in their previous matches. Captain Amanda Mynhardt was on top form, and was responsible for a number of intercepts against the English attack. Maryka Holtzhausen stepped up to the plate and started to take on more work, making herself available for more opportunities to assist the heavily marked Chrisna Bootha. Although a better quarter for the Proteas, England maintained their lead with a half time score of 26-15.

Replacing new cap Nadia Uys with Bongiwe Msomi on Wing Attack in the start of the third quarter did little to assist the Proteas with their struggle in the mid-court. The defence combination of Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit and Zanele Mdodana was working at full steam, as the attack combinations let the team down. Although England was also conceding a number of turnovers, the Proteas attack did not capitalise on this and continued to lose the ball due to basic errors. However, in true South African spirit the Proteas kept on fighting and narrowed the gap towards the end of the third quarter, ending 14 goals behind at 23-37.

The last quarter paid resemblance to the first quarter, as England started well and looked to finish well. Given a goal difference target by Coach Anna Mayes of 25 goals, the English side raced ahead and topped that target with a final score of 56-30.

“We can only learn from this” said Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana after the game. “Of course we are disappointed, but we did have some good moments today, there just weren’t enough of them. Playing more matches at this level will help us to improve on that.”

The SPAR Proteas stay on in New Zealand for the Fast 5 tournament starting on the 9th November.


NEW DIMENSION OF NETBALL FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa – In a conference call on Thursday, SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze described the team’s experience of the Quad Series as a ‘new dimension of netball.’ Having played a total of five matches, all ending in defeat, Kotze said that their eyes had been opened, and that the South African team members would never look at netball in the same way again.

“Netball is in a different dimension in these top three countries” said Kotze, “everything is faster and stronger, and we can no longer look at ourselves in the same light.” Kotze described that despite having had a very good year of netball, winning a test match against Jamaica, defeating Northern Ireland in the SPAR Challenge and winning the Diamond Challenge, playing lower ranked countries may have instilled a bit of false confidence in the South African side. “We think that we do well playing lower ranked countries, but coming here we have realised the difference between amateur and professional netball, and it has made the players more driven and focused.”

“This experience has been an incredible learning curve for me as a coach, as well as for our players” said Kotze “You have to fight with everything you have on court. Not winning any matches thus far has been tough, but it has taught us to learn from our mistakes, adapt basic skills, improve counter movements and to be less predictable.”

The Proteas last match of the series pins them up against third-ranked England on Thursday 1 November. After some intense analysis of their opponents, Kotze says that her team is ready to prove themselves in their final match. “This match will indicate the growth in the team. We only lost by 9 goals in our previous game, and this is the match that we want to remember the tour by.”

The SPAR Proteas vs. England match with be broadcast live on Supersport 6 / HD 4 at 06h55 on Thursday 1 November.


SILVER FERNS BEAT SOUTH AFRICA 63-24.

Johannesburg, South Africa – New Zealand gave the Spar South African team a netball lesson in their Quad Series match in Tauranga on Sunday morning, beating the Proteas by 63 goals to 24.
The Silver Ferns started off at a hectic pace, scoring nine goals before the South Africans were able to get onto the scoreboard. Goalshooter Chrisna Bootha, who appeared to be struggling, called for a time-out, and was substituted by Melissa Myburgh, who scored South Africa’s first goal after six and a half minutes. The Proteas, who were having difficulty getting the ball into their circle, managed another four goals in the quarter to trail the Silver Ferns 18-5.

From the second quarter, the Proteas began playing more confidently. Bongiwe Msomi, playing at centre, had an excellent game, achieving some outstanding turnovers. Bootha returned, once again showing the steadiness for which she has become known. At the other end of the court, defender Vanes-Mari du Toit showed that she is improving steadily with every game she plays.

The Silver Ferns, who lost heavily to arch rivals Australia a week ago, used all 12 players as they tried out various combinations in preparation for their match against the world champions on Thursday, and the Proteas were able to take some advantage of the situation. Even so, New Zealand had the upper hand throughout the match, restricting South Africa to just five goals in each of the first three quarters. New Zealand led 31-10 at halftime, and 47-15 after the third quarter.

One of the big differences between the two sides was the accuracy of the shooters – former Protea Irene van Dyk succeeded with 21 out of 23 shots at goal, and Cathrine Latu had a hundred percent success rate, scoring 27 goals, while the South African success rate was much lower. Myburgh succeeded with four out of six attempts, Bootha with 15 from 24 and Maryke Holtzhausen five from 11 attempts.
But Captain Amanda Mynhardt believed there were positives to be taken from the match, in spite of the heavy defeat.
“There were times when we were able to get through their defence, and we are learning all the time by playing against the best teams in the world,” she said.
“We want to put everything we’ve learnt into a great performance against England on Thursday.”


SPAR PROTEAS FIGHT ON IN QUAD SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa – The SPAR Proteas put up a courageous effort against world number one ranked Australia in Thursday’s match of the Quad Series, played in Wellington, New Zealand. Going into the match with a focus on ball control, and patience, the South African side fought hard to keep up with the Diamonds, and showed improvement in the final score of 36-68.

SPAR Proteas Shooter Chrisna Bootha and Australian Diamonds defender Bianca Chatfield contest for the ball in the fourth Test of the 2012 Quad-Series at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington

SPAR Proteas Goal Keeper Amanda Mynhardt in defence mode against Australian Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett in the fourth Test of the 2012 Quad-Series at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington.
Pictures by: Michael Bradley/mbphoto


In probably one of their best quarters of the series, the SPAR Proteas put on a great show for the first 15 minutes of their game against the Diamonds. Working against Australia’s sticky man-on-man defence, they were slow to start, but the defence tactic of putting two defenders on lanky Australian Goal Shooter Caitlin Basset seemed to throw the girls in yellow. It wasn’t long before the Proteas had equalised at four all, and within the first five minutes had taken the lead 5-4. The South African team exhibited patience and calculation of their plays, waiting for opportunities on court.

However, after a short break called by Australia, the Diamonds came back with a vengeance and quickly turned the score around. Upping the intensity and putting high pressure on the South African defence, Amanda Mynhardt, Karla Mostert and Zanele Mdodana had to battle it out on court. With a number of high balls intercepted by Australia, and South Africa struggling to feed into their goal circle due to the grip-like defence of the Diamonds, the Proteas just couldn’t keep up, and the whistle blew with a first quarter score of 19-9.

Showing her confidence in the depth of her team, Coach Elize Kotze benched both her Captain and Vice-Captain for the second quarter, bringing on Thuli Qegu in the Wing Defence post and Vanes-Mari du Toit in the Goal Keeper position, lessening the height gap against the 192cm tall Basset. But South Africa seemed less patient this round as they struggled with the execution of some of their plays. Chrisna Bootha was faced with a hard time as the Diamonds defence was all over her in the goal circle, but still managed to score 9 goals to Australia’s 14, ending the quarter 18-33.

Despite trailing with a 20 goal difference for the majority of the third quarter, the South African side kept up their consistency. The Protea defence was on top form, as both Karla Mostert and Vanes-Mari du Toit made a number of brilliant intercepts. South Africa managed to maintain their ball possession, but were let down by not capitalising on it. Once again Chrisna Bootha was given very little space to move in her goal circle, but managed to dance around the Diamond’s defence to score the Proteas another 10 goals to Australia’s 15. “We’ve been doing a lot of under-pressure training, which has helped a lot” said Bootha after the game. “The Australian defenders change the timing of their jumps, which is something that I need to get used to. “You need to be able to shoot under any circumstance, which is something that we need to practise more.”

Australian Diamond Goal Shooter Caitlin Thwaites, who made her debut in the third quarter of today’s match, had a phenomenal game, and her 100% shooting average very much contributed to the Diamond’s pulling away by a further 20 goals in the last quarter. However, South Africa refused to be rattled and continued to fight on admirably. Bongiwe Msomi and Chrisna Bootha maintained their good connection, and the Proteas persisted in their defence, ending the game with a score of 36-68.

“We wanted to keep the goal difference under 20 goals” said SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt after the match, “but we showed some good progress on court today. “We could have capitalised more on our turnovers, but defensively we did well with a lot of good balls and intercepts. We are learning all the time, and so have to be proud of our performance. We’re definitely going to try and win against England.”

The SPAR Proteas play their next game against the Silver Ferns on home turf on Sunday 28 October, at the TECT Arena in Tauranga, New Zealand.


COACH HAS COMBINATIONS SET FOR QUAD SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa – As the SPAR Proteas jet off to Wellington for the New Zealand leg of the Quad Series, Coach Elize Kotze is feeling confident of her players’ on court combinations.

“The progress that the team has made is great. Players are growing not only as individuals, but also as a team” said Kotze. “They really stepped up against England in ball control and ball possession. However, there are some basic things that we need to work on. We need to cut down on unforced errors, bad judgements and ball placement.”

When questioned about individual players that are shining on court, a number of names were mentioned. “Chrisna Bootha had a fantastic match against England, and Bongi Msomi is such a stronghold in the midfield. Her workload is unbelievable.” Kotze said that she had settled the attack combination in Msomi, Maryka Holtzhausen and Nadia Uys. “Our new cap [Nadia Uys] has really been thrown in the deep end, but she is doing brilliantly. Bootha can only perform if she has the right people around her.”

“We are also blessed with four very prominent and gifted defenders” said Kotze, “but it’s all about combinations. “Defence success is measured by the unit’s work rate and the support that the players have in each other. “I’m really proud of what all the players take from every game, every time they get on court I see their maturity grow.”

Kotze and assistant coach Lana Krige have analysed footage of the SPAR Proteas last match against the Australian Diamonds in preparation for their next match on Thursday in Wellington. “The Australians are moving the ball too quickly and sharply, not even New Zealand could keep up in their defence. “We’re going to focus on more man-to-man defence, to restrict their movement and pace. We need to be able to keep the ball in hand, and move it to our goal circle with care, there won’t be space for any high risk balls.”

The SPAR Proteas take on the Australian Diamonds on Thursday 25th October, at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington, New Zealand. The match will be broadcast live on Supersport2/HD4 at 06h55 South African time.


SPAR PROTEAS SHOW GROWTH IN ENGLAND BATTLE

Johannesburg South Africa – After just three games, the growth in the SPAR South African National Netball team is evident. Going into the Quad Series knowing it was going to be tough, the South African side knew that they were going to have to pull out all the stops if they wanted to play competitively against the top three netball nations in the world. Playing England at the Allphones Arena in Sydney on Sunday, they did just that.

Starting with a bang, the first quarter showed that the SPAR Proteas had their eyes on the prize, and that they would not be intimidated by the England team. Although not first to score, the Proteas were quick to take the lead, and started to find the gaps in the England attack. England recovered quickly and the score evened out a few times. Once again, the ‘Tiger’ of the SA side, Bongi Msomi, was a critical player in driving the ball down the court. Hitting double figures for the first time in a quarter of the Quad Series, the SPAR Proteas finished just one goal behind England at the end of the first quarter, 12-13.

An explosive second quarter showed the Proteas in their prime, as they dominated ball possession and ran away with the lead. Having Amanda Mynhardt back on court (who was recovering from a thigh injury) seemed to bring confidence to the defence of the South African side, and the combination of Bongiwe Msomi, Maryka Holtzhausen and Nadia Uys on attack enabled the Proteas to control the pace for much of the second quarter. Chrisna Bootha had a fantastic game, and was a critical part to the lead of the SA side, shooting with a 95% accuracy. Although having a five goal lead at one stage of the second quarter, the England team fought back hard and lessened the gap, ending behind South Africa at half time 25- 27.

After a bit of a talking to by their coach Anna Mayes at half time, England upped their intensity in the third quarter and overtook South Africa by 3 goals in the first 4 minutes. However, it didn’t take long for the SPAR Proteas to equally up their game, and even out the score to 36-all with just over 5 minutes left of that quarter. The SPAR Proteas were playing faster down their attack line, and well on the defensive, but the experience of the England side started to show when Holtzhausen was left baffled by a very quick defensive back play on her shot at goal, and the stealth of the England side in getting the ball into their goal circle. England snuck ahead with a final third quarter score of 44-39.

England managed to maintain their 5 goal lead for much of the last quarter, as the SPAR Proteas battled on. Not willing to give up, the South African side continued to fight up until the last minute, but the England side were just too strong. South Africa lost by 9 goals, and the game ended with an England win of 62-53.

“We had a great first half” said SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt after the game. “There was some really good play on court today. Our ball possession was good and we were a lot more patient, which was great to see. The team has really grown and we will continue to grow. The Quad Series is the perfect opportunity to concentrate on our growth as individual players and as a team.”

One player in particular who has shown a lot of growth is South African Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha, who achieved her best goal scoring average to date in the match today, and is the highest scoring individual in the Quad Series thus far. “She has matured fantastically” said Coach Elize Kotze when asked to comment on Bootha during the game, “She has a lot of potential, and is one of the strongholds in our team.”

The SPAR Proteas take on the Australian Diamonds in their next match on Thursday 25 October in Wellington New Zealand.


DOUBLE TROUBLE STRIKES STELLENBOSCH TWINS

Stellenbosch, South Africa. - The top-seeded home boys, Francois (1) and Okkie (2) Kellerman, were bombed out of the SAS Junior ITF 1 tournament at the Maties Tennis Club, in Stellenbosch, by unseeded opponents on Wednesday.
The Stellenbsoch-based Kellerman twins had been looking good on the two previous days but they were blown away in windy conditions in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.

Lloyd Harris(White Cap)and Trent Botha(Red Shirt) turned the tournament on its head on Wednesday when they hung out the tops to dry at Stellebosch. Harris defeated top seeded Francois Kellerman (1), while Botha enjoyed a straight-sets win over Francois Kellerman (2).
Pictures Credit: Thys Lombard


Okkie came to grief against Lloyd Harris who has shown encouraging form in tournaments abroad in Egypt and Namibia, where he featured in several championship rounds. He disposed of Okkie 7-6(4) 7-5.
Harris, also Stellenbosch-based, has enjoyed career wins over Okkie before but he was particularly pleased with the victory because he’s been battling with injury in recent weeks. He played behind an impressive forehand, which he said worked well in the windy conditions.
Francois joined his brother on the list of also-rans when he went down to Trent Botha, a 7-6(5) 1-6 6-3 winner.
Another seeded player Nigeria’s Joseph Ubon, was also shown the exit door. He was beaten by South Africa’s Christiaan van der Burgh 6-3 6-3, and enjoys the distinction of being the only seeded player in the boys semifinal round.
The other seed to fall by the wayside was Phillip Johan De Bruyn, the No 4, who crashed out to Zahnre de Kock, who won 6-4 2-6 6-2.
Wednesday’s results will ensure that Thursday’s boys semifinals will be contested by an all-South African cast.
It won’t be the case in the girls section because fourth seeded Valeria Bhunu of Zimbabwe and second seeded Elizabeth Kapari of Ghana won their matches, to book their semifinal berths.
They will be joined by the SA duo of Janet Koch (1) and Jessica Simpson (3).
The Chief Executive Officer of the Stellenbosch Academy Sport (SAS), Rob Benadie, has been taking proceedings over the past three days, and as one of one of the sponsors, he’s been greatly encouraged by what he’s seen.
“We haven’t been able to stop the wind which has made conditions really difficult for the players, but I guess it’s part of the process of grooming your best juniors for higher honours,” said Benadie. “Our involvement with Tennis South Africa (TSA) is still very much part of a pilot project and once the tournaments are completed we’ll have a debrief to plot the way forward.
“I’ve had chats with coaches and parents, and they’ve been impressed by the organisation and facilities.
“We deal with various sports codes at our high performance academy and we have a number of elite athletes there but we’re in the business of sports development. We’re happy with our role in this tournament.
“The most pleasing aspect for me has been the feedback of the players, particularly because so many of them have played in Europe and elsewhere. They say our facilities compare favourably with some of the best they’ve across in other countries.
“The quarterfinals on Wednesday threw up some terrific battles and some of the seeds came to grief. It must be good for what we are doing here if lesser known players are making their mark. It will be wonderful if these events can unearth new talents because that will give us great pleasure.”


IMPRESSED BUT NOT SATISFIED

Johannesburg, South Africa – “Impressed but not satisfied” were the words SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze used to describe her team’s performance in their match against Australia on Wednesday.

Pitted against the world number ones in their second match of the Quad Series, the Proteas put up a gallant effort. Although there were a number of good intercepts and defensive plays from the South African side, especially in the first two quarters, the experience and skill of the Australian Diamonds led to a 63-31 defeat.

The Diamonds were quick off the mark, and were the first to score – from a South African centre – in the first quarter. Their fast, angular play seemed to throw the Proteas, as did their very close marking. However, South Africa put up a strong defence, and Karla Mostert made a number of great plays. Bongiwe Msomi’s speed in centre assisted the Proteas in driving the ball to their circle, but the South African side was just not strong enough, and they lost the first quarter 16-9.

The second quarter proved slightly more promising for the girls in green and gold, as they appeared to be more patient on court with their focus on ball possession and shorter, sharper passes. Chrisna Bootha was on form, getting in over 80% of her goal attempts, but the deadly combination of the Diamond’s goal shooter and goal attack in Catherine Cox and Susan Pratley, as well as the team’s strength in attack, left little room for the Proteas to lessen the goal difference by much. The half-time score was 31-18.

A number of changes were made after the half-time break, as Lisa Alexander changed up her goal circle combination, and Elize Kotze moved Bongi to her home base at Wing Attack, replacing Centre with Wing Defence player Thuli Qegu. An unusual move by Kotze, as this seemed to slow the South African side down quite significantly, but may have been an attempt to prevent the Proteas from their backwards play on attack which was something they were doing regularly - to their detriment. The Diamonds capitalised on the opportunity, and raced ahead by scoring another 14 goals to South Africa’s 8 in the third quarter.

The Proteas were the first to score in the last quarter, after a brilliant intercept by Goal Attack Maryka Holtzhausen, but the intercepts were far too infrequent to have any hold on the Diamonds. South Africa continued to lose the ball close to their goal circle, and the combinations on court were evidently lacking the speed and intensity of Erin Burger (who is still recovering from injury) and Bongiwe Msomi playing together. The Diamonds dominated this quarter, closing the match with a final score of 63-31.

SPAR Proteas coach, Elize Kotze, said that playing the world champions was going to be tough, but was pleased that her team was not intimidated. “They put up a good fight, and played a competitive game. This is all part of learning and progression.” “Now we know what combinations to use for our match against England.”

“That is why we are here” said Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana, “To experience what it feels like to play against the best.” “We have to play against the best, if we want to be able to beat the best. We are learning so much, and are becoming better players with every game.”

The SPAR Proteas play against England, ranked third in the world, in Sydney on Sunday 21 October. The match will be broadcast on Supersport 6 at 07:05am South African time.


SPAR PROTEAS DOMINATED BY SILVER FERNS IN OPENING MATCH

14 October 2012
SPAR PROTEAS DOMINATED BY SILVER FERNS IN OPENING MATCH

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa had their game faces on as they took to the court in their opening match of the Quad Series on Sunday, but despite a good start, the SPAR Proteas couldn’t keep up with the experienced Silver Ferns, losing by 63 goals to 27.

The New Zealand Silver Ferns took an early lead in the first quarter, showing their dominance on the court. However, the SPAR Proteas kept their cool and had some very good plays on the defensive. Vanes-Mari du Toit was on top form making a number of crucial intercepts, and after lagging for the majority of the first quarter, the South African team managed to pull it back ending it 9-14.

It was a similar showing in the second quarter. The Silver Ferns pushed on as the SPAR Proteas struggled against the snappy, quick movement and passing of the Silver Ferns on attack. Bongiwe Msomi had a great game, finding the gaps on court, but the Proteas were conceding a lot of penalties. The half time score reflected the play as the Silver Ferns had doubled their score to put them at a 28-14 lead.

The match seemed to degenerate from this point as the Silver Ferns took ownership of the game. Playing out of their comfort zone, and starting to tire, the SPAR Proteas were unable to keep up in the third and final quarter. Not enough goals were moving to the South African goal circle, and the Silver Ferns won with a convincing victory.

“We knew this was going to be a tough match” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze after the game. “This has been a big learning curve for us.” “But we are going to take it one match at a time, and we now know that we have a lot of preparation to do before our next game.”

South Africa play world number one Australia in their next match on Wednesday 17 October.

Ends -


SPAR PROTEAS HAVE THEIR EYES ON THE PRIZE

Johannesburg, South Africa – In a recent training camp the SPAR Proteas were drilled on high intensity training sessions by coach Elize Kotze in order to ready themselves for their matches against top three netball countries Australia, New Zealand and England in the Quad Series starting on October 14.

The SPAR Proteas with Dr Calder and Christi Botha at their pre-departure training camp held this past weekend at the Pretoria HPC.
From left (bottom row): Thuli Qegu, Lindie Lombard, Bongiwe Msomi, Melissa Myburgh,Christi Botha
(2nd row): Dr Calder, Zanele Mdodana (vice-captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Aneret Viljoen, Maryka Holtzhausen.
(3rd row): Tsakane Mbewe and Chrsina Bootha
(Top row): Nadia Uys, Elize Kotze (coach) and Lana Krige (assistant coach).
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


In addition to being put through their paces on court, the team underwent some one-on-one coaching sessions with EyeGym specialist Dr Sherylle Calder and her assistant Christi Botha. “We commend the team on their progress” said Botha. “Having spent time with the squad this past weekend we were impressed with the progress that the players have made with regards to EyeGym and on field performance and skill level.
As a result we were able to move on to the next phase to do some position specific On-field coaching.” “We were impressed with the commitment and professionalism of the players and management and are excited to be involved with this team. We would like to thank SPAR for making it possible.”


PROTEAS READY TO TAKE ON TOP NETBALL NATIONS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African National Netball Team left Johannesburg for Australia on Monday for probably their toughest challenge to date – the Quad Series, which pits the SPAR Proteas against the world’s top three netball-playing countries – Australia, New Zealand and England.

The SPAR Proteas team selected to play in the Quad Series, at their training camp which took place at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria this past weekend.
From left (bottom row): Thuli Qegu, Lindie Lombard. Bongiwe Msomi, Melissa Myburgh.
(Second row): Zanele Mdodana (vice-captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Anneret Viljoen, Maryka Holtzhausen.
(Third row): Nadia Uys, Chrisna Bootha.
(Top row): Elize Kotze (coach) and Lana Krige (assistant coach)
Absent: Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert, Amanda Mynhardt (captain)
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“It’s a huge compliment that we have been invited to take part, and we intend to be very competitive,” said head coach Elize Kotze, before the team’s departure. “Our opening match is against New Zealand, which is always a challenge. But we had a great quarter against them at the World Championships in Singapore last year, when we took an early lead in our match, and we believe we can give them a good game this time. What is important is that we should have progressed since then.”

She said the players had just completed a very intensive training camp. They were all fit and ready for the tournament to begin. “Next year is our pre-Commonwealth Games year, so this tournament is the logical road to follow. This is a very good opportunity to find out if we are ready to compete in this type of league, and what is needed to improve. This is the only way SA will learn,” said Kotze.

She said there was now more depth to the SPAR Protea team and that the players had a good chance of improving their international ranking. “For the first time we have two players for each position on court. Previously we battled for months to find a specialist wing attack. Zanele (Mdodana) stepped into that role and did well, but in the Diamond Challenge when Zanele moved back to wing defence I could see she was at home there. Now we have Nadia Uys, who is a specialist wing attack, which is a first for the team. We also have another specialist goal attack in Lindie Lombard, which takes pressure off if there are injuries. Now we have all bases covered and a plan B for all positions on court” said Kotze.

The vice-captain, Zanele Mdodana, said the players were well prepared for the coming tour.
“We have had some very successful tours and a very busy year. We have played a lot and have come to know each other better on and off the court. This is a great opportunity to play against the best and to be able to see where we are,” she said.

South Africa’s first match against New Zealand is in Adelaide on Sunday, and Kotze would not be drawn on which of the three other teams would provide the stiffest opposition. “We’ve studied all the teams, and know a lot about the players and their style of play. We are taking it one step at a time. Our first match is against New Zealand, so we are preparing for New Zealand,” she said.
The four teams will play in Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney before moving across the Tasman Sea to play in three cities in New Zealand.


AUSTRALIA TO ADVISE ON SOUTH AFRICAN PROFESSIONAL NETBALL LEAGUE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Top South African netball officials left for Melbourne on Wednesday for talks with their Australian counterparts about a professional netball league (NPL).

Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula announced earlier this year that a South African professional netball league would be launched next year as part of efforts to promote the biggest women’s sport in the country.

Netball South Africa (NSA) president Mimi Mthethwa and vice-president Blanche de la Guerre will meet Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer and officials of the world’s strongest netball league, the Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) Championship, to discuss a variety of aspects of the establishment of a successful league. These include the ideal relationship between NSA and the NPL, a trust fund for professional players, television and sponsorship rights, and disciplinary codes. Another important issue is whether the NPL would fall under the NSA constitution or have its own.

Mthethwa and De la Guerre will also meet the general manager of the ANZ Championship, Andy Crook, to discuss aspects such as who would be in charge of the NPL, fixtures and calendars, and competition rules.

Australia and New Zealand dominate world netball, and the ANZ Championship features some of the world’s best netball players in a feast of trans-Tasman Sea rivalry. It attracts packed houses and is closely followed on television, with leading players attracting as many fans as cricket or rugby players.

“We believe they are the perfect people to help us to introduce a professional national netball league,” said De la Guerre. “They went through various development stages to get to where they are now, so they would be the ideal reference for us to move from amateur to professional netball.”

The SPAR South African netball team leaves for Australia on Monday for the Quad Series, in which South Africa will play top netball countries – Australia, New Zealand and England – in a series that will take them to three centres in Australia and three in New Zealand.


LIVELY TEAM FOR FAST5 SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team will be taking part in a vibrant new form of the game in November this year – the Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Fast5 series will be played in Auckland, New Zealand, from November 9-12 – less than two weeks after the completion of the Quad Series, which features Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. Jamaica and Malawi will complete the make-up of the six nations tournament, which features the world’s top six netball playing countries.

The Fast5 tournament kicks off with a match between South Africa and Jamaica, and three hours later, South Africa play England. The second day will be particularly strenuous, with South Africa playing world champions Australia, their African rivals Malawi and world number two, New Zealand, with very little recovery time between the matches. On Sunday, the two semifinals will be followed by the play-off for fifth and sixth position, before the play-off for third place and the final.

For the past few years, the SPAR Proteas have competed in the Fastnet tournament in the United Kingdom. Fastnet was described as the netball equivalent of Twenty20 cricket, but Fast5 promises to be even faster and more exciting. A Fast5 squad comprises 10 players, with five on court at any time. The five positions on court are goal shooter, goal attack, centre, goal defence and goalkeeper. Goals can be scored from anywhere within the goal shooter’s third of the court. There are three goal scoring zones, with goals scored from 3.5m or less from the post worth one point, from more than 3.5m worth two, and goals scored from outside the circle worth three points.

There are four quarters, each six minutes long, and rolling substitutions are allowed throughout the game. Each team will select one quarter as a Power Play, in which all goal points are doubled.

Three players, Tsakane Mbewe, Simnikiwe Mdaka and Nontle Gwavu, will join their teammates in Auckland, while six players will return to South Africa after the Quad Series. “We’ve chosen an exciting and very flexible team,” said Fast5 coach Lana Krige. “Fast5 is a whole lot faster than conventional netball, and with the reduced number of players, there are a lot of open spaces on the court. A player like Nadia Uys makes fantastic use of those spaces, and Simnikiwe is a very fast and very clever player.”

Krige said the four shooters selected for the team played very different roles, as did the four defenders. “With the rolling substitutions, we should be able to cater for any situation,” said Krige.

SPAR team for Fast5 tournament: Chrisna Bootha, Maryka Holtzhausen, Nadia Uys, Tsakane Mbewe, Bongiwe Msomi, Simnikiwe Mdaka, Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert, Nontle Gwavu, Amanda Mynhardt.
South African umpire, Anso Kemp, has also been invited to officiate the Fast5 tournament and will travel with the team to Auckland.


NETBALL SOUTH AFRICA SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Totiusdal Primary School – known as the small school with the big heart - has implemented the Legacy2Generations Community Development Project, as an initiative to raise funds for school community development projects.

President of Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard hands signed memorabilia over to a Totiusdal Primary School pupil at the launch of the Legacy2Generations Community Development Project on 18th September 2012.

2011 Miss South Africa Melinda Bam and SPAR Protea player Vanes-Mari du Toit at the launch of the Legacy2Generations Community Development Project held at Totiusdal Primary School, Tshwane.
Pictures by: Johan Rynners Photography
Official Photographer for the Blue Bulls Rugby Union


Part of their plans include a Sport Youth Development Centre for Primary School children and a Live Streaming Education Centre. As a way to raise funding, Totiusdal is collecting signatures from well-known and influential academic, sporting and arts and culture personalities with the idea of breaking into the Guinness Book of Records for the most signatures collected for a fundraising competition. Tickets for the event will be sold over a period of a year. Some of the signed items that have already been collected are: Academic – Books from: Jacky Kunene; Jake White; Sarel vd Merwe; Peter de Villiers; Billy Selekane; Lloyed Chapman. Sport – Jerseys from: 2011 Orlando Pirates(ABSA premier league winners; 2010 Scotland 6 nations squad; 2009 New Zealand T20 winning team; Cap – Yusuf Pathan; Makaya Ntini; also signature of Doc Danie Craven. Art & Culture – Paintings, sculptures, and CD’s from different artist. The culmination of the initiative will take place next year from the 13th - 15th September, in celebration of the school’s 60th birthday, where a community involved festival will be held.

The launch of the Legacy2Generations Community Development Project took place on Tuesday 18th September at Toitusdal Primary School, in Waverley, Tshwane. Members of Netball South Africa and the SPAR Protea netball team were present to hand over signed memorabilia, along with the representatives of from the Blue Bulls rugby union; the MMC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Cllr. Faith Kgaditse; the High Commissioner of Jamaica , Her Excellency Norma Taylor Roberts; Marva Bernard (President of Jamaica Netball Association), and Miss South Africa Melinda Bam, amongst others.


TOUGHEST CHALLENGE YET FOR SPAR NETBALL TEAM

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR national netball team embark on the toughest challenge yet next month, when they take on some of the top netball countries in the world – Australia, New Zealand and England – in the Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand.

The SPAR Protea team selected at the training camp on Sunday 9 September 2012 at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.
From left to right: (back) Elize Kotze (coach), Lana Krige (assistant coach), Melissa Myburgh, Thuli Qegu, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Maryka Holtzhausen; Zanele Mdodana (vice-captain). (Front): Lindie Lombard; Bongiwe Msomi, Nadia Uys, and Chrisna Bootha. (Absent; Amanda Mynhardt (captain)).
Picture by Reg Caldecott


The Netball South Africa (NSA) selectors have chosen a team that blends youth and experience, with captain Amanda Mynhardt and vice-captain Zanele Mdodana boasting nearly 100 caps between them. At the other end of the scale, Melissa Myburgh, who made her debut earlier this year, has just one cap, Karla Mostert has five and Vanes-Mari du Toit eight.

Coach Elize Kotze said it was a great compliment that South Africa, ranked sixth in the world, had been invited to take part in the tournament rather than third-ranked Jamaica. “After our performance in the World Championships in Singapore last year, where we came fifth, the top countries have recognised that we are a very competitive team,” she said.

“We have been making steady progress since then. We were able to beat Jamaica for the first time in 45 years when we toured there earlier this year, and then we had a very good series against Northern Ireland. Since then, we beat Malawi (ranked fifth) to win the Diamond Challenge and netball in South Africa is definitely on an upward trajectory.

“When we play against the top four teams, we are playing on a totally different level. The standard is so much higher and we will learn so much from the Quad Series. At the end of it, we will know exactly where we stand, and what we need to do to compete with the best at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The only way to grow is to play against the top teams.”

The Proteas attended a rigorous training camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport at the weekend, during which they continued their work with eye-training specialist, Dr Sherylle Calder. Kotze was overjoyed with the results of Dr Calder’s work. “We have been working with her for a couple of months, and the improvement is amazing,” she said. “The players have all been working very hard on their Eye Gym exercises, and you can see the effect on their speed and their decision-making. You could see it during the Diamond Challenge, when they were finding spaces they had never seen before.”

The team selected for the Quad Series is as follows: Chisna Bootha; Maryka Holtzhausen; Melissa Myburgh; Lindie Lombard; Nadia Uys; Bongiwe Msomi; Thuli Qegu; Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain); Vanes-Mari du Toit; Karla Mostert; Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), and Adele Niemand. President Netball South Africa Mimi Mthethwa said she was pleased with the team that had been selected, but will not overlook three of the top players that are unable to take part in the Quad Series due to unavailability. “Precious Mthembu, Simnikiwe Mdaka and Nontle Gwavu all had brilliant performances during the trials, and were in the top 10 players. One of our top players Erin Burger is still injured, but we expect her full recovery by the end of the year to begin with training for the forthcoming World Netball Championships in 2015.”

The Quad Series will take place in three Australian cities and three New Zealand cities, with double-headers at each venue. The tour starts in Adelaide on October 14 and ends in Hamilton, New Zealand on November 1.


A TREAT FOR NETBALL FANS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball enthusiasts have a treat in store for them when DSTV broadcasts highlights from the inaugural World Universities Netball Championships (WUNC) held in Cape Town last month.

The South African Universities team shone at the tournament, remaining unbeaten until the final, when they were narrowly beaten by 53 goals to 49 by Great Britain. It was a thrilling final, which went into extra time, after the two teams finished level at the end of regulation time.

South Africa reached the final with a victory over the very competitive Jamaican team, winning the semi-final by an agonizingly close 41 goals to 39. Jamaica went on to beat Northern Ireland in the play –off for third place to win the bronze medal.

Although economic constraints meant that the world’s top two netballing countries, Australia and New Zealand, were not represented at the tournament, the standard of play was generally very high, and many of the players had represented their countries on an international level, while others are likely to do so in the near future. Three African teams – South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe – took part in the tournament.

The premier of the exciting highlights package will be broadcast on SS 6 and SS 6A on Wednesday August 22 at 6pm. The half-hour programme will be repeated six times on the same channels. Schedule as follows:
Series Season Item Date Time End time Channel Info
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 22-Aug-12 18:00 18:30 SS6/SS6A Premier
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 23-Aug-12 09:00 09:30 SS6/SS6A Repeat
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 27-Aug-12 14:30 15:00 SS6/SS6A Repeat
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 28-Aug-12 10:00 10:30 SS6/SS6A Repeat
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 30-Aug-12 16:30 17:00 SS6/SS6A Repeat
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 03-Sep-12 18:30 19:00 SS6/SS6A Repeat
World University Netball Championships 2012 Highlights 06-Sep-12 13:00 13:30 SS6/SS6A Repeat


JUBILANT PROTEAS DETHRONE MALAWI QUEENS 47-43

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa established themselves as the top netball team in Africa, beating arch rivals Malawi 47-43 in the final of the inaugural Diamond Challenge tournament in Pretoria on Saturday.
Watched by Sports Minister Fikile Mbablu and his Malawian counterpart, Justin Saidi, as well as Olympic canoeing bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, the teams put on an outstanding display of international netball.

Player of the Tournament, and Most Accurate Shooter Mwai Kumwenda in action during the final match of the Diamond Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

A calm and collected – and Tsogo Sun Player of the Match - Chrisna Bootha takes a shot at goal during the final match of the Diamond Challenge on Saturday 18 August.


While the honours were even early in the match, the Malawians looked to have the upper hand as they dominated possession. Both teams made nervous errors but Malawi edged narrowly ahead with a 12-10 lead at the first break. In the second quarter, the Proteas held their own but Malawi still held a one goal advantage at half-time, with the scores at 23-22. Chrisna Bootha turned the game around in the third quarter. Having missed the first two matches of the tournament with flu, Bootha arrived at the courts alone, early in the morning, and worked on her shooting before the final. It paid off and the goal shooter broke into a rare smile when the SPAR Proteas held a six-goal lead midway through the third quarter. A rare mistake in the circle allowed Malawi back into the game but the Proteas refocused quickly, outscoring their opponents by 14 points to nine in the third period.

Malawi pulled it back in the final fifteen minutes and kept the home side on their toes by picking up the pace. Mwai Kumwenda’s experience showed as the Malawian shooter was impressive with her quick handling of the ball. It was a tense final few minutes with only one point separating the sides, but South Africa held their nerve to lift the trophy.

Bootha’s final statistics showed a 90 percent accuracy in her shooting while Kumwenda was far and away the shooter of the tournament, scoring 39 from 41 attempts. SPAR Proteas captain Zanele Mdodana said she was still replaying the final moments in her head. “It was such a phenomenal win and I am so delighted, I don’t know what else to say,” Mdodana said. “To see the girls fighting right to the end was fantastic. “Last night we said we had to raise the bar and we were not going to lose to Malawi twice in a row. “Now we are walking on top of a mountain.”

Mdodana said it was a team effort and the coaching staff, Elize Kotze and assistant Lana Krige, deserved praise as they had more belief in the players than they had in themselves. “It’s about time South Africa were back as the best team in Africa,” said Kotze. “It will always be a tough encounter against Malawi and I cannot ever imagine playing them and having an easy game. “The score could have been higher but considering Chrisna (Bootha) was not supposed to be on the court and Maryka Holtzhausen, our goal attack, had a stomach bug, I can’t complain. “I saw something out there today which pleased me more than anything -the commitment and the fact that the girls would put anything on the line to win.” - Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


BOTSWANA BEAT ZAMBIA IN A TIGHT THIRD PLACE PLAYOFF

Pretoria, South Africa - Zambia’s national netball team saved their best for last despite being between by Botswana into third place at the Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Saturday.

Botswana’s Wing Attack Beauty Letsholo in action against Zambia in the Diamond Challenge playoff on Saturday.

– Botswana’s Goal Shooter Lemogang Moganetsi out-stretches Zambia’s Goal Keeper Ebber Sithole during the playoff match on Saturday.
Pics by: Reg Caldecott


The match was a physical encounter and closer than the 45-36 final score suggested. Botswana had beaten Zambia by a bigger margin in their round robin game on Friday (59-41) so the Zambians did their homework and came back fighting to the bitter end. Zambia had the better of the possession in the first quarter but conceded twice the number of turnovers.

Interestingly, both sides had the same number of shots on goal, but Botswana’s shooters were more accurate, taking a narrow two goal lead at the break (10-8). The second quarter saw Zambia draw level with their opponents and the two sides matched each other point for point until a couple of costly errors saw the momentum swing, once again, in Botswana’s favour with the score at 22-19 at half-time. Determined not to give up, Zambia came out defending well ,although sometimes too aggressively, and being penalised for it. The gap widened between the two teams as Botswana went into the final quarter with a 33-25 lead. The difference between them in the end was Botswana’s ability to capitalise on their turnovers.

Botswana’s coach Motlhokwa Motsumi felt goal shooter Lemogang Moganetsi deserved credit for her efforts in the match and also wing attack Beauty Letsholo who enjoyed an outstanding tournament. “We said after yesterday’s game that Zambia would come at us hard today,” said Motsumi. “So we knew we had to multiply our efforts, which we didn’t quite manage to do. “Our goal shooter played very well today and Beauty had another good game. “She was our best player throughout the tournament and overall, we have learned a lot. “We also managed to keep our world ranking (16) which was one of our goals.”
Botswana have recently acquired a technical assistant, Frances Granger, from New Zealand and Motsumi admitted that it probably gave them the edge over Zambia this time around, after they had been beaten by Zambia twice in February.

Zambian coach Charles Zulu was understandably disappointed with the loss but proud that his team did battle to the end. “It was our best performance so far in this tournament but we didn’t take our chances,” Zulu said.
“When we defended well, we made mistakes on attack and we didn’t utilise our centre passes well enough.” Zulu said many of his team members had been injured which hampered their preparations coming into the tournament but overall, he was pleased with the way the team performed and singled out goal shooter Lucy Jere. “We are grateful to South Africa for hosting this tournament and we have all benefitted from it.
“We were disappointed not to beat Botswana but I think some of our players were very good and Lucy stood out with her accuracy statistics – approximately 86 per cent overall in the tournament — second only to the Malawian shooter, Mwayi Kumwenda.” – Jenny Bernstein


MALAWI TAKES THE HONOURS AGAINST SA

Pretoria, South Africa - Malawi came out on top against the SPAR Proteas after the two top teams on the continent battled it out in the four nations Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Friday night.

SPAR Proteas centre player Bongiwe Msomi in action during their match against Malawi at the Diamond Challenge on Friday.

SPAR Proteas Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fights for the ball during the match against Malawi on Friday at the Heartfelt Arena.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


South Africa were beaten 47-42 in the jam-packed Heartfelt Arena, as the crowd witnessed an outstanding display of international netball. Chrisna Bootha was back as South Africa’s goal shooter and had a shaky start after missing the two previous games with flu. The tight first quarter ended 12-10 in favour of the visitors as neither side was willing to give an inch.

While they were never able to close the gap, the Proteas adapted to the quicker style of play and seemed to settle down as the Malawians continued to exert pressure. With the possession balanced between the two sides, Malawi went into the half-time break with a three point lead, at 24-21. Their lead increased to ten goals at one point in the third quarter, with South Africa missing regulation goals on several occasions.

Coach Elize Kotze made a few changes to her team and they pulled back two points, going into the last 15 minutes with the score at 38-30. South Africa made a good start to the final quarter, scoring four goals in a row, which could have been more had their shooting been more accurate. Bongi Msomi, the driving force in the middle of the court, suffered cramps and eventually had to be substituted and, just before the final whistle, Bootha also limped off the court. South Africa reduced the gap to five goals in the end and were disappointed not to have done better given that they actually had more shots on goal – 59 to Malawi’s 54.

“At this level, we have to be more consistent,” said SPAR Proteas captain Zanele Mdodana after the match. “We have to take every chance we get. “There is no room for errors and no room for mediocrity. Every opportunity you get, you have to make use of it.” She said she felt they did not capitalise on their chances and the team would get together again in the morning to focus on eliminating their errors. “I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed tonight, because I saw something in us that I haven’t seen in a while,” she said. “We actually fought to the end and we didn’t give up. “We managed to close the gap towards the end of the match which showed good character and good fitness, because we could have just given up.”

Earlier, Botswana edged out Zambia by 59 goals to 41 and both teams meet the same opponents again on Saturday while the Proteas get another shot at the big guns when they meet Malawi in the tournament final at 1.40pm. Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


BOTSWANA ENCOURAGED BY THEIR FIRST WIN

Pretoria, South Africa - Botswana edged out Zambia by 59 goals to 41 in the four nations Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Friday evening.

Zambia’s Captain and Goal Attack Lucy Jere fights for the ball against Botswana’s Goal Keeper Ntebogang Motlakaloso during Friday’s match of the Diamond Challenge.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

Botswana’s Wing Attack, and player of the match, Beauty Letsholo in action against Zambia on day 3 of the Diamond Challenge, being played at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.


It was Botswana’s first victory, after successive loses to Malawi and South Africa, while Zambia are still without a win. The two teams will meet again on Saturday in the third/fourth place playoff game.

The first quarter saw the two teams evenly matched and while Zambia had more of the possession, Botswana had a two point advantage, going into the first break at 14-12. Botswana went ahead in the next quarter, scoring 16 points to Zambia’s nine but it was not without a fight. The Zambians still had the better of their opponents when it came to ball possession but missed more goals than their opponents. The third quarter started slowly but the deficit between the two teams began to increase. Botswana had more of the ball, for the first time in the match, and outscored their opponents, leading 43-31 overall. Botwana dominated in the final segment of the match, scoring 16 points against Zambia’s 10, thanks to player of the match Botswana’s goal shooter Beauty Letsholo.

Letsholo said she had joked with her team mates earlier about winning the R1000 Tsogo Sun Player of the Match cheque when they arrived at the stadium. “I am so happy with the way we played tonight and for me it was a dream come true,” Letsholo said afterwards. “We spoke about what went wrong in our two previous games and we decided we needed to support each other more. “Instead of shouting at each other when something went wrong, we should rather encourage each other. “Tomorrow it won’t be easy playing Zambia again as they will come out equally determined to beat us and our main focus will be to protect our world ranking (16).”

A disheartened Zambian captain Annie Mukamba said her team were disappointed with their performance against Botswana and they had played a far better match against the SPAR Proteas on Thursday. “Our youngsters rely on the more experienced players and tonight those were the players that let us down,” Mukamba said. “We beat Botswana when we played them in February, so we had expected to win this match. “Perhaps we underestimated them but we struggled from the start.” She said they had learned a few things about their opponents and hoped to do better when they meet them on court again in the playoff on Saturday. “We will work on our mistakes and definitely improve our performance tomorrow,” she said. “We plan to come in here feeling strong and full of confidence.”


PROTEAS GIVEN A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY BY ZAMBIA

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa’s 47-34 victory over Zambia was not quite the birthday celebration netball coach Elize Kotze had envisaged at the Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Thursday night.

South Africa’s Wing Attack Bongiwe Msomi (Wednesday’s Tsogo Sun Player of the Match) in action against Zambia on day 2 of the Diamond Challenge being played at the Heartfelt Arena on Thursday.

Wing Defence Anneret Viljoen reaches for the ball during South Africa’s match against Zambia on day 2 of the Diamond Challenge on Thursday.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Despite their second victory in the four-nations tournament, the SPAR Proteas failed to set the stadium alight and will need to up their game considerably when they take on African champions Malawi on Friday.

The Zambians dominated possession in the first half of the match, but conceded more turnovers, allowing the hosts a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The visitors came back hard in the next quarter and, at one stage, Zambia scored four goals in a row. The Proteas heeded the warning and snapped back into focus, maintaining a 25-17 lead at half-time.

The Zambians played a very physical game and Kotze made a few tactical substitutions to protect her less experienced players. The upshot only served to unsettle the team’s attack so she was forced to make further changes in the third quarter. Ahead by 10 goals at the start of the fourth quarter, the Proteas again conceded possession, but both teams were unable to capitalise on the growing number of mistakes being made by both sides.

Zambia’s Lucy Jere was the most accurate of the shooters, scoring 22 from 26 attempts while Melissa Myburgh netted 34 from 43 opportunities. Player-of-the-match Karla Mostert was delighted with her award but said the team had a lot of work to do before they faced their nemesis Malawi. “We played hard but, unfortunately, we also made too many errors,” Mostert said. “We really want to improve on that, so we will go back to the drawing board tomorrow.”

Kotze focussed on the positives and said it was wonderful to hear the near-capacity crowd raising the roof. “It was so fantastic to hear the crowd chanting and singing and it will take more than this match to ruin my day,” said the birthday girl. “This match against Zambia was not exactly what we expected after watching them play on Wednesday. “They came out hard and were totally unpredictable. “Their short passes were hard to intercept and it was very clever instruction from their coaches to read our style of defence.”

Kotze said she was proud the SPAR Proteas pulled through for the victory in the end. “The girls worked very hard out there today especially our defence,” she said. “I was extremely proud of Adele Niemand, our goal keeper.“It is most difficult to defend the short, moving, unpredictable attackers, which they played today. “It’s also still a blow for us not to have Chrisna Bootha healthy, but I think she will be ready to go out on the court tomorrow evening as she gives the attacking side huge confidence. “Their man-to-man defence paid off for Zambia and they sometimes got the better of us but we pulled through and survived in the end.”

Earlier, Malawi beat Botswana 63-29 in a match which was also not as one-sided as the score implied.

South Africa play Malawi on Friday night while Botswana face Zambia in the earlier match – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


THATO TOUCHES HEARTS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Little 12 year old Thato Makhubedu touched the hearts of many netballers when she visited the SPAR National Championships, at the University of Johannebsurg last week.

Thato Makhubedu with the SPAR Protea netball team, and team management at the SPAR National Championships, at the University of Johannesburg last week.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Growing up, Thato was diagnosed with kidney failure and spent many of her young years in and out of intensive care. In 2009 she was finally given a second chance when her doctor threw her a birthday party, and told her that she would be getting a new kidney as her birthday present. Three years later, and a member of the Kidney Beanz Trust, Thato is living a more fulfilled life and has a passion for netball. The SPAR Protea team was there to meet Thato as she arrived at the National Championships last week, and gave her a signed ball as a token of their support for her bravery. Teary-eyed Protea coach Elize Kotze welcomed Thato and after hearing her inspiring story offered to give her some personal netball lessons when Thato returns from the SA Transplant Games being played in Durban this week.


SA START OFF DIAMOND CHALLENGE WITHWIN

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa opened their campaign with an unconvincing 55-26 victory over Botswana at the inaugural Netball Diamond Challenge in Pretoria on Wednesday.

SPAR Proteas captain Zanele Mdodana in action against Botswana on day 1 of the Diamond Challenge at the Heartfelt Arena.

New cap Melissa Myburgh takes a shot at goal during South Africa’s first match of the Diamond Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The SPAR Proteas took an early lead, going five goals ahead before Botswana settled into the game.
When goal shooter Chrisna Bootha left the court injured, debutant Melissa Myburgh took her place and kept the momentum going, with the hosts outscoring Botswana by 14 goals to five at the end of the first quarter. South Africa led 30-9 at half-time but their performance lacked fire and pace.

National coach Elize Kotze made several changes to the team for the third quarter, giving all her players a run. The changes disturbed the rhythm of the team but the Proteas still managed to outscore Botswana by 14 goals to six, ending the third quarter on 44-15.

Botswana upped their game in the last quarter, with their goal attack, Thumisang Bagidi, worrying the Proteas’ defence. Dominating possession for the first time in the match, Botswana matched South Africa goal-for-goal in the last quarter, scoring 11 points apiece. The final score of 55-26 was not a true reflection of the game and South Africa will need to improve their performance if they hope to win the tournament.

“I’m happy about the win but not really happy about the performance,” said Kotze after the game. “Our defence was excellent during the first two quarters but tonight was the only opportunity I had to give the whole bench a chance. “From the third quarter, our whole defence was out of sync and also bringing Nosi (Goda) up as centre disturbed their rhythm.” Kotze said it was clear the team lacked trust when they had to release the ball quickly and it was one of the things they would sort out before their next game. “We will get the team back for some strategic training tomorrow morning,” she said.
“Nothing strenuous but we need to work on our focus and strategy.”

Kotze said Bootha had been suffering from flu and had struggled to breathe on the court. “It was a risk playing her tonight and she definitely won’t play tomorrow,” Kotze said. “Melissa is very young and I’d hoped to introduce her slowly so tonight was quicker than we all anticipated. “She stood her ground though and I do believe she has a great future.”

Botswana captain Kagisano Mawela said her team had started on a very low note but grew in confidence as the match progressed. “I don’t know if the girls were scared of the crowd or what, but we started very badly,” Mawela said. “We came back strongly in the second half after the coach had a chat to us at half-time. “We’re very disappointed but we hope to re-focus and come back fighting against Malawi tomorrow.”
Earlier, Malawi thrashed Zambia 75-32 showing why they wear the crown in Africa with a fast and furious display.

South Africa play Zambia and Malawi face Botswana at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria on Thursday. – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


NEW CAPTAINS FOR SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Netball South Africa announced on Monday that a new captain and vice-captain would lead the SPAR Proteas in the forthcoming Diamond Challenge taking place from the 15th – 18th August in Pretoria.

Zanele Mdodana in action against Northern Ireland during the SPAR Challenge, played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from 9th-11th July 2012.
Picture by Reg Caldecott

Maryka Holtzhausen in action against Northern Ireland during the SPAR Challenge, played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from 9th-11th July 2012.
Picture by Reg Caldecott


Zanele Mdodana, from Nelson Mandela Bay, who has been Vice-Captain for the past year and a half has been promoted to captain, as Amanda Mynhardt is in New Zealand playing club netball. “Zanele is an extremely strong leader and a very experienced player. She has been working very closely with Amanda for the past year and a half, and I have full confidence that she will captain the team with great responsibility” said Proteas coach Elize Kotze.

Maryka Holtzhausen, the Freestate residing Protea goal attack, has been appointed as Vice-Captain of the SPAR Proteas and says that it is a great honour; “I am very proud to be made captain of the Proteas team, I consider it a blessing and will do my best to make my country proud.”

Kotze has a lot of confidence in her new vice-captain; “Maryka is one of the most senior players in the team. She showed her leadership captaining the World University Netball Championships team in July, and the players and I have a lot of confidence and trust in her. She has a very good working relationship with Zanele and I think that the two of them will complement each other well.”

The Proteas will take on Botswana, Zambia and long-time netball nemesis Malawi in the Diamond Challenge this week. “I am extremely excited going into the Diamond Challenge” said Kotze. “We have had some great training sessions, and we can now spend time on our combination and tactical work. The team is ready and we’re going out there to be the best in Africa.”


THREE IN A ROW FOR RAMPANT GAUTENG NORTH

Johannesburg, South Africa – Gauteng North clinched their third successive title when they thrashed Gauteng Central 60-41 in the final of the Spar national netball championships at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday.
Although they were the team most affected by the withdrawal of the national players for a Proteas training camp, Gauteng North sailed through the tournament without losing a match.

The winning Gauteng North team who beat Gauteng Central 60-41 in the final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg on August 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fltr Behind: Linda van der Westhuizen (Physio), Riana Bezuidenhout (Manager), Erin Burger (Asst coach), Jenny van Dyk (Coach), Carizka Jasson, Charmaine Sekhoalela, Melissa Myburgh,Lindie Lombaard, Shadine van der Merwe and Koena Phihlela.
Behind: Annemarie Frost, Zanne-Marie Pienaar, Rozanne Matthyse (Captain), Eldene Whelpton and Yolande du Preez.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Player of the tournament Melissa Myburgh from Gauteng North in action against Gauteng Central in the final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg on August 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott


Gauteng Central went into an early lead in the final and were 16-13 ahead at the end of the first quarter, but Gauteng North came storming back in the second quarter, to lead 31-23 at halftime. Gauteng North narrowly won the third quarter by 14 goals to 11, (44-34) but were completely dominant in the final period, scoring 16 goals to Central’s seven.
“We were a bit shaken after the first quarter,” said Gauteng North coach Jenny van Dyk.
“I think we allowed Gauteng Central to dictate the pace, which is slower than the pace we are used to. From the second quarter, we decided to dictate the pace, and that worked. We were able to control the ball better and play according to our own game plan.”
Van Dyk had particular praise for goal attack Lindie Lombaard and goal shooter Melissa Myburgh, who heard on Friday that she had been included in the national team for the Diamond League against Malawi, Botswana and Zambia next week. Myburgh was also named player of the tournament.
“Lindie was able to turn over the ball on frequent occasions, and her main strength is her quick release into the circle. Melissa was having such a good tournament that it made sense to make sure that she had the ball in hand. But it was very much a team effort, with the players having complete trust in one another.”
She made no substitutions during the match, saying she believed that the players who started the match should finish it.
“I made a positional change, moving Rozanne Matthyse from centre to wing defence, because I could see that there was a problem with our defence. Our wing defence was giving their very fast wing attack too much space, but moving Rozanne to wing defence solved that problem.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) won the play-off for third place, beating Nelson Mandela Bay 42-24.
In the men’s section, Gauteng North racked up their fourth successive title, beating Ilembe 30-29 in a nail-biting encounter.
Tournament Awards
Most accurate Shooter
1-Danelle Willemse 86.6% (Free State Motheo)
Best Centre Court player
Simnikiwe Mdaka (Gauteng Central)
Best Defense player
Zanne-Marie Pienaar (Gauteng North)
Best Shooter
Danelle Willemse (Free State Motheo)
Overall player of the tournament
Melissa Myburg (Gauteng North)


ONE NEW CAP IN NETBALL TEAM

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is just one new cap in the 12-member SPAR South African netball team announced by Netball South Africa (NSA) on Friday night. The team will play in the Diamond Challenge against Malawi, Botswana and Zambia in Pretoria next week.

Gauteng North’s Melissa Myburgh has been included in the place of goal shooter Claudia Basson, who was unavailable for selection due to work commitments. “We had to make some changes from the team that beat Northern Ireland 3-0 in the SPAR Challenge Series last month,” said NSA Director of Selectors, Christine du Preez. “Claudia has other commitments, Erin Berger is injured and Amanda Mynhardt has gone back to New Zealand, where she is gaining valuable experience playing club netball.”

Du Preez said the selectors had also named a squad of 28 to attend training camps ahead of the Quad Series against netball powerhouses Australia, New Zealand and England later this year. “The squad includes four players for each position, and we have graded them so that we can check on their progress,” said Du Preez.

She said South Africa’s main priority in the Diamond Challenge was to ensure that South Africa beat Malawi, who have long been South Africa’s nemesis. Although the Proteas beat Malawi in the World Championships in Singapore last year, the “Queens” are currently ranked above South Africa in the world rankings. NSA have queried the situation with the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA), but as Du Preez pointed out, victory over Malawi in the Diamond Challenge should resolve the situation. “We don’t know too much about Botswana and Zambia, but we believe that if we can beat Malawi, we will be able to win the Diamond Challenge and get back to number five on the IFNA rankings.”

Gauteng North and Free State both have four players in the team, KwaZulu Natal has two, and Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekurhuleni have one each.

SPAR National Team: Chrisna Bootha, Maryka Holtzhausen, Melissa Myburgh, Zanele Mdodana (Captain), Bongiwe Msomi, Thuli Qegu, Precious Methembu, Anneret Viljoen, Karla Mostert, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Adele Niemand, Nosiphiwo Goda.


ALL GAUTENG FINAL AT NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Defending champions Gauteng North appear set for a third successive title after beating Nelson Mandela Bay 47-36 in the first semifinal at the SPAR National Championships at the University of Johannesburg on Friday.

Simnikiwe Mdaka from Gauteng Central in action against Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the semifinals during day 5 of the SPAR National Championships at University of Johannesburg
Photo by Reg Caldecott

  • Melissa Myburgh from Gauteng North (Right) and Zanele Vimbela from Nelson Mandela Bay compete for the ball in the semifinals during day 5 of the SPAR National Championships at University of Johannesburg
    Photo by Reg Caldecott

They will meet Gauteng Central in the final on Saturday, after their southern neighbours overpowered Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) 44-37 in the other semifinal.

Gauteng North were unbeaten in the group stages and moved serenely into the final stages.
“I think the secret of our success has been playing good solid netball,” said coach Jenny van Dyk. “We have been very consistent throughout the tournament, and I believe that if we carry on this way, we will win tomorrow.”

Although Gauteng North were the team most affected by the withdrawal of the national players for a SPAR Proteas training camp, Van Dyk said one of her team’s strengths was its depth of talent. “For instance, we were able to take a former Protea player, Annemarie Frost, off the bench and bring her into the action, and when you can do that, you are always going to have an advantage,” she said.

Gauteng North went into the lead from the first quarter, and consistently outscored the Eastern Cape side, until the final quarter, when NMB scored 12 goals to Gauteng North’s nine. “I think we just lost our focus a bit in that last quarter, but we will talk about that, and it won’t happen tomorrow,” said Van Dyk.

Gauteng Central coach Elsje Jordaan was thrilled by her team’s achievement. In recent years, Gauteng Central have languished in the nether regions of the A-section, but have been rejuvenated since Jordaan, a sports scientist and former Protea captain, took over. What makes their transformation even more impressive is that the team includes no students but is made up entirely of working women, who had to take leave to participate in the tournament. “We’ve worked very hard to achieve this,” said Jordaan. “We’ve been training four times a week for the past three months, and the players have been very motivated by the influence of the Olympic Games. We’ve got a symbolic gold medal, which we touch before every practice and every match.”

Gauteng Central and Dr Kenneth Kaunda were level at the end of the first and second quarters, but Gauteng Central pulled away in the third. “That was part of our strategy,” said Jordaan. “We knew that Kenneth Kaunda always struggles a bit in the third quarter. We wanted to wear them down in the first half, and then come back strongly in the third. We started the final quarter 10 goals ahead. It’s very hard to make up the difference when you are so far behind. Kenneth Kaunda came hard at us in the final quarter, and I had a few anxious moments, but I knew we had a big enough lead to win.” Kenneth Kaunda won the last quarter by 12 goals to nine.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson Mandela Bay will meet in the third place play-off at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning, with the final being played at 11


UPSETS IN NETBALL QUARTERFINALS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) caused an upset when they beat Free State Motheo 47-41 in the quarterfinals of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday.

Mampho Totetsi from Nelson Mandela Bay in action against Ekurhuleni during day 4 of the SPAR National Netball Championships.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Lauren Christians from Free State Motheo (left) and Rosie Mdakeng of Dr Kenneth Kaunda compete for the ball during day 4 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg on August 09, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Tskane Mbewe from Gauteng Central shoots for goal against Western Province during day 4 of the SPAR National Netball Championships. Wency Katchatako defending.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Eldene Whelpton from Gauteng North in action against Amathole during day 4 of the SPAR National Netball Championships
Photo by Reg Caldecott


Free State were unbeaten during the pool stages, although they drew their match against Ekurhuleni, and appeared to be sure of a place in the semifinals, whereas Kenneth Kaunda finished fourth in their group. “I told the players their real tournament started today,” said coach Dorette Badenhorst. “I said they must forget about everything that had happened before, and just have faith in themselves and in each other. “It was very much a team effort, and we just stuck to our game plan and it worked,” said Badenhorst.

Free State led 13-7 after the first quarter, and were 21-19 ahead at half time, but Kenneth Kaunda pulled themselves back in the third quarter, to lead by 34 goals to 32. In the final quarter, it was virtually one-way traffic, with Kenneth Kaunda outscoring Free State by 13 goals to nine.

Nelson Mandela Bay (Eastern Province) also caused something of an upset when they beat Ekurhuleni 45-44 in a nail-biting match. “It was a match of two halves,” said coach Reg Sharp. “We were seven ahead at halftime, and I made some changes to the team, but Ekurhuleni came back strongly in the third quarter, to go two ahead. I put two new shooters in for the final quarter, and I think that threw Ekurhuleni. We were playing catch-up, but then we brought ourselves back. “It was a great game, and it could have gone either way. Our senior players came through when it was necessary,” said Sharp.

The other two quarterfinals went according to plan, with Gauteng Central beating Western Province convincingly by 49 goals to 37, and defending champions Gauteng North thrashing Amathole 61-38.

Gauteng North will meet Nelson Mandela Bay in the first semifinal on Friday, and Gauteng Central will play Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the other semi. Western Province, Free State, Amathole and Ekurhuleni will compete in the play-offs for positions five to eight, while Gauteng West and Frances Baard will vie for position nine.


NETBALL WOMEN JOIN HANDS IN CELEBRATION OF WOMEN’S DAY

Johannesburg, South Africa – Some of our favourite women in netball joined hands today to celebrate Women’s Day at the SPAR National Netball Championships, being held at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park.

From left: Noma Kotelo Director Sport Support Services Sports and Recreation, Elize Kotze SPAR Proteas coach, Zanele Mdodana SPAR Proteas vice-captain, Blanche de la Guerre Vice-President Netball South Africa, and Belinda Nel Sponsorship Manager SPAR.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The tournament is host to over 1200 netball players, and is testimony to the love and passion that netball women have for their sport. Teams travel from all over South Africa to take part in this annual tournament that provides a platform for talent seeking and an opportunity for national netball teams to play against the best in the country. Vice-President Netball South Africa Blanche de la Guerre expressed that netball players share something special despite all the trials that they may face to play the sport they love; “When you play netball, you have friends and sisters for a lifetime.”


GAUTENG NORTH AND FREE STATE CONTINUE TO DOMINATE AT NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Defending champions Gauteng North continued their march to the next round on the third day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the University of Johannesburg on Wednesday, with decisive victories over Gauteng Central and Frances Baard (Griqualand West).

Zanne-Marie Pienaar from Gauteng North in action against Gauteng Central during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Tamzin Dreyer from Boland (behind) and Zandre Kruger from Dr Kenneth Kaunda compete for the ball during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg
Photo by Reg Caldecott


Gauteng North beat their neighbours 50-35, and thrashed Frances Baard 67-47. With three rounds of play to make up after play was suspended because of snow on Tuesday, play got underway early and continued until after nine o’clock on Wednesday. The top four teams in the two Section A pools will play in the quarter-finals on Thursday, with the semifinals being played on Friday and the final on Saturday.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) had mixed fortunes, beating former netball powerhouse Boland 46-32, but losing narrowly (43-41) to Nelson Mandela Bay (Eastern Province) later in the day. With Gauteng North and Gauteng Central likely to clinch the top spots in Pool 1, NMB and Kenneth Kaunda were fighting it out for a better place in the quarterfinals, but NMB coach Reg Sharp believed his team will give any team a good run for their money in the quarters. “It’s a fairly young team, and they are on a bit of a learning curve,” he said. “It was a bit of a blow when their coach Lana Krige and their captain Zanele Mdodana, were withdrawn because of the SPAR Proteas training camp, but they have come out fighting,” he said. “We hit the top two teams, Gauteng North and Gauteng Central, on the first day, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because we have a second chance against them in the later rounds. Both were close matches – we lost by four or five goals in each match, and in fact we were closer than the scores suggest,” said Sharp.

In Pool 2, Free State Motheo continued to dominate, with Ekurhuleni likely to end second in the pool after beating Gauteng West 53-33, and Amathole (Border) 54-25. It was a bad day at the office for Amathole, who were beaten 40-25 by Western Province. In their only match of the day, Free State Motheo thumped Gauteng West 75-30.


DEFENDING CHAMPIONS OFF TO A GOOD START

Johannesburg, South Africa - Gauteng North got the defence of their title off to a good start with victories in both their matches on the opening day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Monday.

Eldene Whelpton from Gauteng North (right) and Success Lekaba from Dr Kenneth Kaunda compete for the ball during day 1 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at University of Johannesburg.
Photo by Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images


In their first match, a depleted Gauteng North beat Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) 42-37, after leading 19-16 at half-time. In their second match of the day, they beat Nelson Mandela Bay 51-45 in a hard-fought match, which saw some outstanding intercepts and excellent play by both teams.

The defending champions, with six players in the national team, are the team most affected by the absence of the SPAR Proteas, who are attending a training camp at the UJ campus in preparation for the Diamond League against Malawi, Botswana and Zambia next week, and have called up members of their Under-21 team to fill in the gaps.

Eleven teams have been included in the A-section, which has been divided into two pools, with the top two teams in each pool going through to the semifinals on Friday. The final will be played at midday on Saturday.

Pool 1 comprises Gauteng North, Nelson Mandela Bay, Boland, Frances Baard (Griqualand West), Kenneth Kaunda and Gauteng Central, while Pool 2 is made up of Free State Motheo, Ekurhuleni, Western Province, Gauteng West and Amathole (Border).

In other Pool 1 matches played on Monday, Gauteng Central achieved a narrow 45-41 victory over Nelson Mandela Bay, after leading 25-29 at halftime; Boland beat Frances Baard 51-42 and Dr Kenneth Kaunda thrashed Frances Baard 63-23.

In the pool 2 matches, Western Province (WP) coasted to a 56-30 win over Gauteng West in the morning, before beating Ekurhuleni 42-36 in their later match and last year’s runners-up, Free State Motheo easily beat Amathole 53-28.


NETBALL FESTIVAL IN JOHANNESBURG

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is growing interest in netball following South Africa’s clean sweep over Northern Ireland earlier this month, and the first victory over Jamaica in 45 years during a test series in July. Netball fans will have much to look forward to at the annual SPAR National Championships in Johannesburg next month.

Defending Champions Gauteng North after their win at the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships held in Cape Town.

Gauteng North and Free State Motheo battle it out in the final of the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships held in Belville, Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

More than 80 teams from all parts of the country have registered for the tournament, which will be played at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from August 6 to 11. The tournament, which is always played around National Women’s Day, will be divided into A, B and C-sections, and there will also be a men’s competition.

Defending champions Gauteng North will be attempting to continue their dominance with a third successive win. They can expect strong competition from last year’s defeated finalists, Free State Motheo, as well as from Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

With plenty of international netball coming up, including the inaugural Diamond Challenge, featuring South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania, and the Quad Nations series against Australia, New Zealand and England later in the year, top players will be putting their best foot forward to ensure they catch the eye of the selectors.

But as Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa pointed out, the SPAR National Championships is not just about the elite teams, but also about the teams playing in the lower divisions. “Every player at the tournament will be doing her best for her team,” said Mthethwa. “Netball is a very competitive sport, and we expect a high standard of play in all divisions. Every team will be trying to do better than they did last year. “It is also a time to make new friends and renew old friendships,” she said.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who instigated the Diamond Challenge, has shown considerable interest in netball, and has called for the introduction of a professional netball league, to put South Africa on a par with countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have had professional competitions for a number of years. “Support from Minister Mbalula has raised netball’s profile, and we are expecting great things in the future,” said Mthethwa.

SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice said the grocery giant was very proud to be associated with the national championships. “Netball is our flagship sponsorship, and we have been associated with the sport for many years,” he said.
“As the biggest grocery chain in South Africa, it is only fitting that we should partner the country’s premier women’s sport. I hope all the players have a successful and happy week.”


SOUTH AFRICAN UMPIRES FOR TOP-LEVEL MATCHES

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African netball umpires are beginning to make their mark internationally, with two appointed to officiate at top-level international competitions in the next few months.

Theresa Prince of Nelson Mandela Bay has been appointed one of the umpires for the Test series between the world’s top netball countries, world champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand, in September. “I am honoured that I can add value to world and South African netball through this invitation” said a humble Theresa Prince after the announcement was made. Annie Kloppers of Stellenbosch will officiate in the Quad Series involving Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa in October and November.

Prince and Kloppers both officiated at the Netball World Championships in Singapore last year. “The invitation to Theresa and Annie to officiate at such high-profile matches shows that the world is beginning to recognise the potential of South African umpires,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Umpires, Dr Hannette Brewer.

“We need more exposure for our umpires so we can be on the same level as Australia and New Zealand. We are very proud of our international umpires, who have both umpired in international finals – Annie at the last Under21 World Cup and Theresa in the Fast Net final last year,” said Brewer.


KOTZE COACH UNTIL END OF THE YEAR

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa confirmed on Monday that NSA had written to the coach of the SPAR National Netball team, Elize Kotze, asking her to stay on as head coach until the end of the year. “We would love to give her a contract until after the World Championships in 2015. We are in no doubt about her value to the team, but she understands that at this stage, we are not in a position to offer contracts to anyone,” said Mthethwa.

SPAR National Netball team coach Elize Kotze
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“We discussed the situation with her during the SPAR Challenge series against Northern Ireland in Cape Town last week, and she has agreed to stay on until the end of the year. The team has shown a definite improvement since she took over last year, and we have a very important series against the top three teams – Australia, New Zealand and England – in October and November.”

Mthethwa said NSA was talking to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula about the need to make netball more professional by offering contracts to coaches and players. Mbalula said last week that netball, the biggest women’s sport in South Africa, needed more support.

“Elize understands that we have a long-term plan, and we hope very much that she will be a part of that,” said Mthethwa. “Part of her job will be to work with other national coaches, such as the Under 23, Under21, Under 19 and Fast Net coaches, so that they are all on the same page, as well as to reach out to the regions and work with regional coaches so that players and coaches are more exposed to top-level netball. She has agreed to work with us and help us plan the road ahead, and we very much hope that we will be able to keep her in this position until after the World Championships in 2015. In the meantime, we are very pleased that she has agreed to stay on until the end of the year.”


SOUTH AFRICA CLINCH NETBALL SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa outclassed Northern Ireland in the second SPAR Netball Challenge Test Series at the Good Hope Centre on Tuesday to clinch the series.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain and Wing Attack Zanele Mdodana in action during the 2nd SPAR Netball Challenge test match between South Africa and Northern Ireland at the Good Hope Centre on July 10, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Player of the match Precious Mthembu during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge on 10 July 2012.

South Africa’s goal defence Karla Mostert reaches for the ball from Ireland’s goal attack Oonagh McCullough, during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas thrashed the visitors 66-42, after leading 35-19 at halftime. The hosts dominated in all areas, but were particularly successful in defence, with Amanda Mynhardt and Aneret Viljoen keeping the Northern Irish shooters in check.

At no stage did the visitors look like posing a threat, and South Africa succeeded in turning over the ball on a regular basis. Coach Elize Kotze made the most of the versatility of her players, starting the match with centre court player Erin Burger at goal attack and Bongiwe Msomi at centre. She made several changes at halftime, replacing Burger and Chrisna Bootha with Maryka Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson, and returning Burger to centre. Basson and Holtzhausen kept the goals coming, but at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland began scoring more goals after Viljoen was replaced at goal defence by Karla Mostert. They were only four goals behind at one point during the third quarter, and three behind in the final 15 minutes.

Precious Mthembu, making her way back after a long absence through injury, played a pivotal role at wing defence, earning herself the player of the match award. It was the first time since her return that she played for the entire match. “It’s awesome to be back,” said the former SPAR Proteas vice-captain. “It’s wonderful to be back with the team, who have made me feel very welcome. I believe that if you are given the bib, you have to work hard to honour it.”

Kotze was very pleased with the outcome of the match. “I was happy once again to be able to play all the members of the squad, and I was extremely happy to have Precious on for the full hour,” she said. Kotze said she had decided to open with Burger at goal attack because she believed in setting players new challenges. “Erin has completely mastered the centre court,” she said. “She can shoot well, and once she has confidence in her shooting abilities, I think she will be world class in that area as well.” (Burger was named Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.)

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh said she was disappointed that her team had not been able to reduce the margin of victory, after losing by 24 goals on Monday as well. “But the players are learning all the time, and that will definitely be our goal for tomorrow,” she said. Earlier in the evening, South Africa Under21 beat England Under 21 by 56 goals to 31.
The third and final Test will be played at 6pm on Wednesday 11th July 2012.


NETBALL DIAMOND CHALLENGE LAUNCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Minister of Sport and Recreation SA, Honourable Fikile Mbalula, officially launched the Netball Diamond Challenge at a breakfast function held at the Sandton Convention Centre today (Thursday).

From L-R: Mr Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation), Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain), Mr Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation), Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Mimi Mthethwa (President of Netball South Africa) and Blanche De La Guerre (Vice President of Netball South Africa) at the launch of the Netball Diamond Challenge at the Sandton Convention Centre today.


From L-R behind: The Spar Proteas Netball Team Manager Claudine Claassen, Nosiphiwo Goda, Mr Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation), Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain), Chrisna Bootha, Mr Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation), Aneret Viljoen, Mimi Mthethwa (President Of Netball South Africa), Amanda Mynhardt (Captain). Front: Bongiwe Msomi, Thuli Qegu, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu at the Sandton Convention Centre for the Netball Diamond Challenge launch.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Netball Diamond Challenge will see South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania competing in a round robin tournament in Johannesburg and Cape Town from 11 August – 19 August 2012.
The objective of the tournament is to celebrate the role of women in sport and in particular elevate the profile of Netball in South Africa as we celebrate women’s month.

This isn’t going to be just any normal netball event – it will offer spectators the added entertainment of live music and other surprises.
“We are very excited about the Netball Diamond Challenge, and our plan is to grow it into the premier netball event on the African continent. Netball remains one of the largest sporting codes in the country and it deserves to have a professional league and roar to a stature of the likes of soccer, rugby and cricket” said Minister Mbalula.

Concludes Mimi Mthethwa, Netball South Africa President; “The plan is for the Netball Diamond Challenge to become an annual event hosted by South Africa, with teams invited from various countries. The event forms part of Netball South Africa’s Vision for the Spar Proteas that ensures we strive towards consistently being amongst the top three teams in the world, develop heroes amongst our youth and further grow the game at all levels and areas.”
Tickets will be available from Computicket shortly.


NORTHERN IRELAND GO DOWN FIGHTING IN CLOSE MATCH

Cape Town, South Africa - Northern Ireland made the South African team fight every step of the way to win the third and final match in the SPAR Challenge series in Cape Town by 58 goals to 52 on Wednesday.
South Africa won the series three-nil, but the team from Northern Ireland can go back home with their heads held high, after outscoring South Africa in the second and final quarters.

Player of the Series, Bongiwe Msomi from South Africa in action during the third test of the SPAR Challenge played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.

SPAR Protea Maryka Holtzhausen defends against Northern Ireland’s Frances Campbell, in the third and final test of the SPAR Challenge played on Wednesday 11 July.

The triumphant South African team with their trophy after winning the SPAR Challenge three-nil against Northern Ireland, played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Proteas coach Elize Kotze started the match without some of her front-line players, with captain Amanda Mynhardt, Erin Burger and Aneret Viljoen all warming the bench. For the first 10 minutes, the teams traded goal for goal before Northern Ireland briefly took the lead. South Africa came back at them and won the first quarter 16-13.

Mynhardt replaced Karla Mostert at goal defence in the second quarter and brought on some stability, although the visitors outscored South Africa by 14 goals to 12 in the second stanza. The Northern Ireland goal shooter Noleen Lennon, who was named player of the match, and goal attack Oonagh McCullough were both outstanding and as the goals piled up, the hosts appeared to panic, making a number of unforced errors.

With South Africa leading 28-27 at halftime, Kotze brought in her big guns, like Erin Burger and Aneret Viljoen. Burger replaced Bongiwe Msomi who had played excellently, winning her the title of player of the series. Their presence was felt immediately, as South Africa won the quarter by 20 goals to 12. That difference was enough to ensure South Africa’s victory, although Northern Ireland won the final quarter 13-10.

“We can’t make excuses. Maybe we were over-confident,” said Kotze. “Also, I tried new combinations today. This is the first opportunity I have had to try something like that, and I realise how valuable our more experienced players are. “I’m really not worried,” she said. “We won the series 3-0 and the fact that Northern Ireland came back tonight was fantastic. The challenge was good. They re-strategised and played a whole new game, which meant I also had to change my strategy.”

“This series showed me who could cope with pressure. We have a much bigger challenge towards the end of the year, when we play the top three teams, Australia, New Zealand and England, in the Quad series. If you can’t make it at this level, then we have to look very seriously at our choices.”

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh, who said after Tuesday’s defeat that she wanted to narrow the winning margin, said she was delighted by the team’s performance. “I think the team really believed in themselves and their ability,” she said. “They cut down on their unforced errors, which was one of our big targets. We also managed to force South Africa into making errors. “The more this team gets out and plays international netball, the better they will be.”


SOUTH AFRICA CLINCH NETBALL SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa outclassed Northern Ireland in the second SPAR Netball Challenge Test Series at the Good Hope Centre on Tuesday to clinch the series.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain and Wing Attack Zanele Mdodana in action during the 2nd SPAR Netball Challenge test match between South Africa and Northern Ireland at the Good Hope Centre on July 10, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Player of the match Precious Mthembu during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge on 10 July 2012.

South Africa’s goal defence Karla Mostert reaches for the ball from Ireland’s goal attack Oonagh McCullough, during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas thrashed the visitors 66-42, after leading 35-19 at halftime. The hosts dominated in all areas, but were particularly successful in defence, with Amanda Mynhardt and Aneret Viljoen keeping the Northern Irish shooters in check.

At no stage did the visitors look like posing a threat, and South Africa succeeded in turning over the ball on a regular basis. Coach Elize Kotze made the most of the versatility of her players, starting the match with centre court player Erin Burger at goal attack and Bongiwe Msomi at centre. She made several changes at halftime, replacing Burger and Chrisna Bootha with Maryka Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson, and returning Burger to centre. Basson and Holtzhausen kept the goals coming, but at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland began scoring more goals after Viljoen was replaced at goal defence by Karla Mostert. They were only four goals behind at one point during the third quarter, and three behind in the final 15 minutes.

Precious Mthembu, making her way back after a long absence through injury, played a pivotal role at wing defence, earning herself the player of the match award. It was the first time since her return that she played for the entire match. “It’s awesome to be back,” said the former SPAR Proteas vice-captain. “It’s wonderful to be back with the team, who have made me feel very welcome. I believe that if you are given the bib, you have to work hard to honour it.”

Kotze was very pleased with the outcome of the match. “I was happy once again to be able to play all the members of the squad, and I was extremely happy to have Precious on for the full hour,” she said. Kotze said she had decided to open with Burger at goal attack because she believed in setting players new challenges. “Erin has completely mastered the centre court,” she said. “She can shoot well, and once she has confidence in her shooting abilities, I think she will be world class in that area as well.” (Burger was named Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.)

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh said she was disappointed that her team had not been able to reduce the margin of victory, after losing by 24 goals on Monday as well. “But the players are learning all the time, and that will definitely be our goal for tomorrow,” she said. Earlier in the evening, South Africa Under21 beat England Under 21 by 56 goals to 31.
The third and final Test will be played at 6pm on Wednesday 11th July 2012.


COACHES EXPECT TOUGH CONTEST IN NETBALL CHALLENGE SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - The coaches of South Africa and Northern Ireland are both expecting a very tough contest in the three-Test SPAR Netball Challenge series starting at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Monday.

From L-R: Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain) Elize Kotze, coach of the SPAR Proteas, and Jill McIntosh, coach of the Northern Ireland team during the South Africa and Northern Ireland netball team press conference at Garden Court, Nelson Mandela Boulevard on July 08, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Hannah Irvine, vice-captain of Northern Ireland and Zanele Mdodana, vice- captain of the SPAR Proteas ahead of the SPAR Netball Challenge
Photo by Reg Caldecott


“We have a lot of respect for our opponents,” South African coach Elize Kotze said at a news conference on Sunday. “We have worked hard, and we will be approaching this series with a lot of confidence, but we are definitely not over-confident. We played Northern Ireland at the World Championships in Singapore last year, and they gave us a very hard time. We have looked back at that game, and we have learned a lot from that experience.”

Former Australian coach Jill McIntosh, who took over as Northern Ireland coach earlier this year, said she expected three very tough matches. “South Africa are in the top six in the world, whereas Northern Ireland are currently ranked 12th. Northern Ireland will benefit from exposure to class opposition, and the more they play the top teams, the better they will become, said McIntosh.

“I believe Northern Ireland could be a sleeping giant. Northern Ireland is a very good national team that rarely plays Tests. “They tend to play only in the World Championships and the European Championships, and they need more international competition,” said McIntosh. “There is wonderful talent, but not enough international experience.” She said it was also important for netball that the teams ranked seventh to 12th in the world challenged the top six teams.

Proteas captain Amanda Mynhardt said South Africa had been boosted by their victory over Jamaica in the third Test in the Caribbean last month, but would not be resting on their laurels. “We want to become more consistent, and we know what a fight Northern Ireland put up last time we played them,” she said. “We are already preparing for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and we also have a huge series against the top three countries – Australia, New Zealand and England – later this year. The Challenge Series is very important to us.”

The SPAR Netball Challenge series follows hot on the heels of the World University Netball Championships (WUNC), where South Africa finished second, losing to Great Britain in the final on Saturday.

South Africa and Northern Ireland both have players who featured in the tournament, but the coaches are not concerned that their players might be over-tired after a hectic week of netball. “Our players are very well conditioned,” said Kotze. “Four Proteas played at the university championships, and they were all front-line players, but we have a depth of talent in the team, and if necessary we can do without them for the first match. But I believe they will all be ready and eager to play.”

The first Test starts at the Good Hope Centre at 19h20 on Monday 9th July.
The second Test will be played on Tuesday 10th at 19h00, and the final test on Wednesday 11th at 18h00.


SA GO DOWN FIGHTING IN UNIVERSITY NETBALL FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa - There was disappointment for South Africa when they went down 53-49 against Great Britain in the final of the inaugural World University Netball Championships in Cape Town on Saturday.

“I’m really proud of the players. They tried their hearts out and they never gave up,” said SA coach Dorette Badenhorst.“They’re a great team of players and they stood together as a team, even though they had never played together before.“I think they were excellent - to come second in the world at university level, we can be really proud.” Fighting it out to the bitter end, the scores were level at 46all at the end of regular play, forcing the match into extra time.

It was a closely contested affair from the start with South Africa scoring the opening goal. Britain’s Steffi Burt, with tentacle-like arms, was faultless in her shooting and able to snatch and draw the ball into her comfort zone from anywhere in the circle. A costly miss by the home side allowed the English to take the lead, which they increased to four goals at one point. With just over two minutes to go in the first quarter, South Africa drew level, but the opening period ended with the hosts trailing by two goals at 12-10.

South Africa made a couple of switches in the second quarter and the tactic worked well as the hosts matched the visitors goal-for-goal, closing out the first half two points down at 24-22. After levelling the scores again at 25-25, South Africa went into the lead for the first time in the match, a few minutes into the third sector.

Proteas centre Bongi Msomi was tenacious in her play while Vanes-Mari du Toit and Karla Mostert were superb in defence. After the third quarter ended one goal to South Africa’s advantage, at 35-34, the momentum was finally in their favour and they should have closed out the game in the last period of play. However, they failed to capitalise on their possession and the lead fluctuated from one side to the other. An intercept by Du Toit put South Africa in front by two goals, and they stretched their margin to three, but the experienced British side pulled it back and their goal in the dying seconds of regular time ensured a further seven minutes each way.
Both sides made uncharacteristic errors and, as the tension mounted, South African opportunities were missed.

The hosts lost focus and went behind 50-47 in the low-scoring first period of extra time. They fared no better in the second half as they gave the ball away in their own circle, and England’s goal keeper, Kadeen Corbin, kept her cool to prevent the South Africans from scoring. “We didn’t use all our opportunities but you always learn from a game like this,” Badenhorst said. “Most of them have never played on an international stage before, so if we could have more games at this level, it would be excellent for the players.”

Jamaica came third beating Ireland 41-30 for the bronze medal.- Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA SAIL PAST NAMIBIA INTO UNIVERSITY NETBALL SEMI-FINALS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa defeated Namibia 67-26 in the first of the quarterfinal matches at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Thursday.

Namibia started well and looked like they would pose more of a challenge to the South African team, who had breezed past Zimbabwe and the United States in their last two games.
Matching each other goal for goal early on, at 3-3 the home side stepped up a gear and left their opponents in their wake, closing out the first quarter at 17-3.

The SA students proved too strong for Namibia and continued to increase their tally to 35-9 at the half-time break. Both sides fought hard in the final two quarters, but South Africa suffered a setback when their centre, Bongi Msomi, hobbled off the court in the third quarter. With their reserve centre also injured, it was up to Marie Geel to step into the pivotal role, which she did admirably. “Bongi’s injury is not serious, she just took a hard knock to her thigh, but she’s fine to play in the next game,” coach Dorette Badenhorst said afterwards.

“Namibia are always a strong team and we knew we would have a challenge on our hands. “In the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be but we still needed to push the players and I thought we played brilliantly. “I managed to give all the girls a chance, but I still feel if something isn’t going well on court, we still struggle to adapt quickly enough. “We struggled in the circle and I thought we needed to adapt a little bit better, but I thought it was a great game.”

Namibian coach Manuel Tjivera was happy with the way his players faced their formidable opposition and described the match as “a cracker”. “I am quite pleased with today’s game and it all went according to plan,” Tjivera said. “We are using this tournament to finalise our preparations for the Cucsa [Confederation of University and College Sports Associations] Games so it worked out well. ”I tried out more defensive combinations to evaluate the strength of the girls and we managed to penetrate South Africa’s defence. “At times they had to force some balls so it really worked well for us.”

Jamaica thrashed Zimbabwe 87-15 and earned themselves a semi-final against South Africa on Friday. Badenhorst admitted the South Africans were not used to the Jamaican’s style of play. “Jamaica is a very physical team and we will really work hard to go full out from the beginning against them,” Badenhorst said. “We will go back today, analyse all their games and be prepared on court. “It will be a test of character as we’re not used to such a physical competition, so it is going to be a challenge to me as a coach as well.”

Ireland came from behind to beat Uganda 45-43 and they meet Great Britain in the other semi-final on Friday.
Great Britain, along with South Africa, remained unbeaten in the tournament after they finished 82-14 in the last quarterfinal of the day.- Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA SAIL INTO UNIVERSITY NETBALL SEMI-FINALS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa defeated Namibia 67-26 in the first of the quarterfinal matches at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Thursday. Namibia started well and looked like they would pose more of a challenge to the South African team, who had breezed past Zimbabwe and the United States in their last two games.

Matching each other goal for goal early on, at 3-3 the home side stepped up a gear and left their opponents in their wake, closing out the first quarter at 17-3. The SA students proved too strong for Namibia and continued to increase their tally to 35-9 at the half-time break.

Both sides fought hard in the final two quarters, but South Africa suffered a setback when their centre, Bongi Msomi, hobbled off the court in the third quarter. With their reserve centre also injured, it was up to Marie Geel to step into the pivotal role, which she did admirably.“Bongi’s injury is not serious, she just took a hard knock to her thigh, but she’s fine to play in the next game,” coach Dorette Badenhorst said afterwards. “Namibia are always a strong team and we knew we would have a challenge on our hands. “In the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be but we still needed to push the players and I thought we played brilliantly. “I managed to give all the girls a chance, but I still feel if something isn’t going well on court, we still struggle to adapt quickly enough. “We struggled in the circle and I thought we needed to adapt a little bit better, but I thought it was a great game.”

Namibian coach Manuel Tjivera was happy with the way his players faced their formidable opposition and described the match as “a cracker”. “I am quite pleased with today’s game and it all went according to plan,” Tjivera said. “We are using this tournament to finalise our preparations for the Cucsa [Confederation of University and College Sports Associations] Games so it worked out well. ”I tried out more defensive combinations to evaluate the strength of the girls and we managed to penetrate South Africa’s defence. “At times they had to force some balls so it really worked well for us.”

South Africa meet Jamaica in the semi-finals on Friday and Badenhorst admitted they were not used to the Jamaican side’s style of play. “Jamaica is a very physical team and we will really work hard to go full out from the beginning against them,” Badenhorst said. “We will go back today, analyse all their games and be prepared on court. “It will be a test of character as we’re not used to such a physical competition, so it is going to be a challenge to me as a coach as well.” — Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA COMPLETES CLEAN SWEEP IN GROUP STAGES OF UNIVERSITY CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa went undefeated in the group stages of the World University Netball Championships in Cape Town after beating the USA 93-14 on Wednesday.

USA’s Wing Attack Sherica Minott in action against strong opponents South Africa on day three of the WUNC.
Picture credit: Barry Lamprecht / Image SA

South Africa’s Goal Shooter Anja Opperman aims for goal during their match against the USA at the WUNC today, at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town


It was not quite the drubbing they had hoped for, as South Africa lost focus towards the end of the match. Having kept a clean sheet in the first quarter, taking a 29-0 lead, the hosts conceded just one goal in the second quarter, and went into the half-time break 52-1 ahead.

Another century seemed on the cards but, as the home side experimented with different combinations, the Americans threw caution to the wind and came back to score four goals in the third and nine in the final quarter of the match.

Passing was sloppy and goals took longer to come by for the South Africans — in stark contrast to the first half of the game, where it took literally a couple of seconds between each of their goals.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst said the girls lost focus after centre Danique du Toit was assisted off the court with an ankle injury. “It’s not always easy to keep your focus in a game like this,” Badenhorst said, referring to the huge gap between the two teams. “We can learn a lot from today’s game because the girls lost concentration after the injury.”We need to realise that if there is an injury, we must play as a team and keep our focus on the game.”

She said Du Toit, the back-up centre, would almost certainly be out for the rest of the tournament.
South Africa’s captain Maryka Holtzhausen felt it was more a question of finding the right combinations than keeping themselves focused. “I don’t think we took our foot off the pedal,” Hotzhausen said. “We just changed our combinations and it didn’t work as well as it did at the start of the match “But I didn’t think it went that badly in the last two quarters.”

USA’s South African-born coach, Ilze Gideons and captain Shallyn Reeves, formerly of New Zealand, were more upbeat after the match. Despite losing all their group games, Gideons said they were pleased with their performances so far. “We had set ourselves a target of five goals per quarter so, when that didn’t work, we just told the girls to keep fighting but the score doesn’t matter anymore,” Gideons said. “We told them to just keep going, play hard and enjoy themselves.”We’ve only been playing together for four months as a team so we didn’t want to overload them with pressure.”

South Africa face Namibia in their quarterfinal game on Thursday and Badenhorst said the team were ready. “We played really good netball over the last three days and worked to play our own game,” Badenhorst said. “We are building up nicely to the quarterfinals and have done all our preparations.
“It won’t be an easy game against Namibia, as they’re a good team, but the girls are ready and psyched up for a good match.” - Sapa, Jenny Bernstein.


NETBALL ON THE WAY UP IN THE USA

Cape Town, South Africa - Netball is the biggest women’s sport – and the second biggest sport overall – in South Africa, with hundreds of thousands of girls and women exposed to the sport every year.

President of Netball America Sonya Ottoway with students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, last week in Cape Town.

The Netball America team with students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, last week in Cape Town.


There is fierce competition for places in national representative teams and South Africa is ranked fifth in the world.

The situation in the United States is very different. Netball America (NA) President Sonya Ottoway says NA struggled to put together a team, and had to travel far and wide to find eligible players to play in the inaugural World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town.

“Netball has only been played in the United States for about 35 years, and was largely confined to expat communities from the Commonwealth,” she said. “Previous representative teams have been largely made up of Jamaicans, Australians and New Zealanders. We’re very proud that this team is totally American. Some of the players started playing netball only three months ago, but they have all got athletics backgrounds – some of them are former basketball players, and others played volleyball.”

While the Americans are unlikely to take home any medals, they have been involved in numerous community and charity programmes in the build-up to the WUNC, including supporting youth programmes in a village in Swaziland by supplying clothes and equipment.

Team USA has some strong links with South Africa as well. They started their South African tour with a visit to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, with the aim of helping to inspire the students to believe that anything is possible. They also spoke to pupils, teachers and local community leaders about the value of sport and physical activity to academic success and lifelong achievement, as well as how sport can boost confidence and develop leadership skills.

The theme song for Team USA Netball is ‘River of Life’ which is a duet between Johannesburg resident Lebo Kgasapane and American Idol finalist Michael Johns. Lebo was a 21-year-old rape victim who died of AIDS at the young age of 22. Her dying wish was to sing on a CD the world would hear. “Michael wrote a song, incorporated her voice and recorded this as a gift to her parents,” said Ottoway. “Michael is very supportive of our trip to South Africa and has given us this song to use as it is quite appropriate when he sings ‘We will always stand together’.”
Ottoway – herself a former Australian – believes this will be the last time the United States will struggle to make up a national team. “We are making progress in getting netball established as a sport,” she said. “We have recently concluded a contract with Miami Dade County education authority in Florida to start netball programmes in the 350 elementary and high schools in the county. We will also be launching netball programmes in more than 400 community sports centres run by the New York City Housing Authority.”

She said netball was also involved in President Obama’s Active Lifestyle Awards (Pala) programme. “Pala is trying to get girls and young women more involved in physical activity, and they are impressed by the cost-effectiveness of netball. Many girls find basketball very rough, and are likely to prefer netball,” she said.

She said that NA played matches as curtain-raisers to professional basketball matches as a means of promoting the game. “We put together two teams of top players for a match at Madison Square Gardens, and that was how we attracted the attention of the New York Housing Authority, who were blown away by the game. I see netball growing and growing in the future.”


ONE WAY TRAFFIC FOR SA OVER ZIM IN WORLD NETBALL UNIVERSITY CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa inflicted a humiliating 110-12 defeat over Zimbabwe in their Group A match at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The Zimbabweans lacked the wherewithal to cope with the superior skills and height of the South Africans. The hosts maintained possession for most of the match and coach Dorette Badenhorst blamed the 12 goals conceded on a “lack of concentration.” She said it was difficult to set goals for a match which is so one-sided, but it was still necessary to do so. “It’s always hard to play a team like that who had no structure,” Badenhorst said. “When the score is so big, you can pass the ball from anywhere to your goal shooter. “But as soon as you play against a stronger team, you can’t do it. “We can’t afford a lapse in concentration because the quarterfinal will be against a stronger side, so we need to maintain our focus.”

Late entrants into the competition, the Zimbabweans were in disarray after their coach was turned back at the border. They played without a game plan and, at the breaks, the substitutes were reluctant to come off the bench. Their captain and goal keeper, Prudence Goreraza, said the team were feeling a little bit down but they would pick themselves up again for their match against Ireland on Wednesday.”It was very tough against South Africa because they are all very tall and we are a short team. “We’re hoping to do better against Ireland because they are also one of the shorter teams. “We still believe we can win our games and go into each game with a
positive attitude.”

Zimbabwe’s head of delegation, Elijah Tapatapa, said they were still hoping a coach would fly into Cape Town late on Tuesday but the team were managing without well enough in the meantime. “We did all our preparations at home so we just have to try different plans here and my job is to keep psyching the girls and keep up their morale.”

On the rare occasion the Zimbabweans had ball-in-hand, they threw wildly into the goal area, giving shooter Caroline Musomwa little opportunity to score. Credit to the South Africans as they did not let up on the pressure and their defence was excellent. “We had a tough game yesterday against Ireland so today we tried to correct our mistakes and stick to our game plan,” said Protea and university centre Bongiwe Msomi. “Yesterday was our first game together, so we were still trying to figure out our strengths but today we were able to try different alternatives and they worked well.”

SA meet the US in their last pool game on Wednesday and Msomi said they were expecting “more of the same” after their northern neighbours beat the US by one goal on Monday. – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


SOUTH AFRICA TAKE ON NORTHERN IRELAND

Cape Town, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team, who returned recently from a tour of Jamaica, will be in action again next week, when they take on Northern Ireland in a three-Test series in Cape Town.
South Africa last played Northern Ireland at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year, where South Africa won a tense encounter by 46 goals to 41.Northern Ireland are ranked 12th in the world – well below South Africa’s fifth place ranking – but the Proteas will not be resting on their laurels, after having to fight hard to beat the Irish team in Singapore.

SPAR Protea Goal Shooter Claudia Basson in action against Northern Ireland at last year’s World Netball Championships in Singapore.
Picture by: Duif du Toit; Gallo Images


Coach Elize Kotze is delighted to have another international series so soon after the series in Jamaica, where South Africa won the last match, beating the fourth-ranked Sunshine Girls for the first time in 45 years. “We need to play as much top-class netball as we can,” said Kotze. “The more international experience we can get, the better. We have the Commonwealth Games coming up in 2014 and the next World Championships in 2015, and we have to keep testing ourselves as we prepare for these major events.”

“I’m feeling very good after beating Jamaica,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt “That has given us a big boost in confidence. We’re not saying we’re the best or anything, but we do believe we can build on that victory.
“We certainly won’t be taking Northern Ireland lightly,” she said. “They gave us quite a fright in Singapore. They are ranked below us and we should have beaten them easily, but they fought like tigers, and put us under a lot of pressure. But we will go hard at them from the beginning and will try to keep them in check.”

Fans will have a feast of top-class netball, with the South African Under-21 side playing a three-match series against Great Britain Under 21, immediately before the main matches, which will be played at the Good Hope Centre on Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th July. The main matches will start at 19h00 on Monday and Tuesday, and 18h00 on Wednesday. Tickets cost R25 for adults and R15 for scholars, and will be available at the door.
The team selected to play is as follows:
Amanda Mynhardt (Captain); Zanele Mdodana (Vice-Captain); Erin Burger, Nokuthula Qegu; Chrisna Botha, Bongiwe Msomi; Precious Mthembu; Maryka Hotlzhausen; Aneret Viljoen; Vanes-Mari du Toit; Adele Niemand; Nosiphiwo Goda; Claudia Basson; Karla Mostert.


SA UNIVERSITY SIDE OFF TO WINNING START

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa’s university netball side beat Ireland 57-47 in the opening match of the inaugural World University Netball Championship at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Monday.

South Africa’s Bongiwe Msomi in action against Ireland’s Fionvala Toner during the first match of the World University Netball Championships on 2 July 2012.

South Africa’s Zanele Vimbela fights for the ball against Ireland’s Marie Toner during the first match of the WUNC on 2 July 2012.
Pictures by: Jaco Marais / Foto24


Led by goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen, the hosts took an early lead and were 4-0 up before the Irish women found their rhythm. Ireland then matched their opponents goal-for-goal, but the early lead held South Africa in good stead, as they ended the first quarter 16-12.

A couple of costly turnovers proved to be the undoing of the Irish in the second quarter, allowing the hosts to increase their lead to 34-26 at half-time.

Both teams juggled their players at the start of the third quarter and Protea Vanes-Mari du Toit, lacking game time after her recent recovery from a knee injury, was forced to make way for Zanele Vimbela as goal keeper. Vimbela proved up to the task and the South Africans extended their lead, going into the last quarter with a nine goal lead at 46-37.

The final quarter proved a scrappy affair for both sides, turning over ball, but not capitalising on their opponents’ mistakes. Coach Dorette Badenhorst said the South Africans struggled in defence and nerves got the better of her team. “It’s always nice to start with a win and it’s broken the ice and calmed a few nerves,” she said. “Now we need to build up a bit more confidence and play our own game. We didn’t stick to our game plan, which was disappointing, and we reacted to their style of play. We need to go back to the drawing board and look at the mistakes we made.”

Badenhorst said most members of her team had not played competitive netball this year, apart from the three Proteas in the side, and it was difficult to build confidence in the team. “With every game we play, we will become a closer team and play more as a unit,” she said. “There are a lot of things we can take out of this game and use them to prepare for the next game.” Having got their hardest group match under their belts, Badenhorst said they would not be taking their two other group games lightly. “As a coach, no game is an easy game and we will respect our opponents — Zimbabwe and the US,” she said. “We want the players to get more game time together but, at the same time, I will be working on the right combinations. “Yes, I will play everyone, but I will stay with my different partnerships and build confidence in those combinations.”

Irish captain Oonagh McCullough, who switched between the goal shooter and goal attack positions, had an outstanding game but was disappointed overall with her team’s loss. “I’m happy with the fight the girls gave, but it was not quite good enough today,” she said. “We’re still fighting off the jet lag and the better team definitely won on the day. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win because I think we could take them, but we’ll build on that and take the positives and hopefully win our next game.”

South Africa’s next game is against Zimbabwe, at 10am on Tuesday.- Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


STIFF COMPETITION AT INAUGURAL WORLD UNIVERSITY NETBALL CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - There will be stiff competition for hosts South Africa at the inaugural World University Netball Championship which gets underway in Cape Town on Monday.
The South African student side, drawn from all the provinces, is captained by Free State star Maryka Holtzhausen, fresh off her recent tour of Jamaica with the senior national team.

“We’re definitely more than a competitive side, we’re one of the best sides at this tournament,” Holtzhausen said on Sunday. “We’ll give everybody a run for their money. “Playing Ireland in our opening game is tough and we’re expecting a competitive game. “We’re going to have to play our best to beat them, but we’re up for the challenge.” Holtzhausen was the pick of the South African players by Jamaican coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie, after the Sunshine Girls beat the Proteas 2-1 in their three-match Test series in Kingston last month.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst, who mentors the North West university side, felt the biggest challenge for the SA students would be to find some cohesion as they had not played as a unit before.
“We’ve got a lot of players here who are close to making the national side and university sport is one of the biggest sources for national selection,” Badenhorst said. “It’s a challenge for them as a unit but it’s a great opportunity for players to compete at such a high level. “The tournament rules - with the age restriction - allows the younger players a chance in the international spotlight and I hope there are going to be lots more tournaments like this over the next few years.”

Northern Ireland won the silver medal at the European Championships in May, but at university level the team comprises players from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. “We rate this tournament as massively important because it’s a great stepping stone into the national team from the Irish universities,” said the Irish coach, Elaine McLaughlin. “We don’t really know what to expect because it’s a new tournament so we’re taking each game as it comes. “We know the most about Great Britain and they’re a very formidable side as all the Great Britain players have played for England at some level before.”

The South Africans expect their greatest challenge to come from Jamaica, who have brought six players from their senior national team to Cape Town. The two teams are only likely to meet in the final of the six-day tournament, should they both win their groups and progress through to the last stage. Late entrants into the competition, Zimbabwe, and the inexperienced US side are the other two teams in Group A with South Africa and Ireland. Uganda, the dark horses of the competition, Jamaica, Great Britain and Namibia are in Group B. – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


NEW PROGRAMME FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The programme schedule for the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town next month has been adjusted after the late entry of Zimbabwe. The Tournament is to be played at the Good Hope Centre from July 2 to July 7.

Financial constraints meant that only seven countries entered the inaugural university championships, but the International University Sports Federation has since approved Zimbabwe’s late entry. Initially, the tournament was to be played on a round robin basis, with all teams playing each other, but the schedule has since been adapted to a pool system, with inter-pool playoffs on Thursday July 5. The semifinals will be played on Friday and the final on Saturday.

The tournament will start with a match between South Africa and Ireland at noon on July 2, after a brief opening ceremony. The other teams in Pool A are the United States and Zimbabwe. The teams in Pool B are Jamaica, Namibia, Great Britain and Uganda.

The day before the start of the tournament, the participating teams will conduct coaching clinics at the University of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, as part of the WUNC Legacy programme. The youngsters attending the clinics will each receive a t-shirt and a snack-pack, which will be handed out by the tournament mascot, Pukki.

Tournament Director Helene Botha is hoping that the people of Cape Town and the surrounding areas will turn out in numbers to support the South African team and to watch some exciting netball. “University netball is the heartbeat of the sport in most countries, and netball fans will see some of the world’s best players in action,” she said.

“The ticket prices are very reasonable – R20 for adults and R10 for children younger than 12, and we are hoping for a packed stadium.”

Three members of the SPAR national team that beat Jamaica 56-49 on Tuesday night – Bongiwe Msomi of the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Vanes-Mari du Toit of Pretoria University (Tuks), and Free State University (Kovsies) player Maryka Holtzhausen, will be part of the USSA team.


KALMER WINS HER THIRD SPAR CHALLENGE RACE OF THE YEAR

Durban, South Africa - Rene Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) continued her outstanding performance in this year’s SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge when she won the Durban race in 33.25 minutes on Sunday morning.

Rene Kalmer crosses the finish line of the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge at Kingsmead Stadium, Durban on 24 June 2012.

The top three 10km runners of the SPAR Women’s Challenge run in Durban on 24 June 2012. From left: Rutendo Nyahora (2nd) Rene Kalmer (winner) and Irvette van Blerk (3rd).

SPAR Women’s Challenge Durban winner Rene Kalmer in action during the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Durban.
Pictures by Reg Caldecott


It was her third Challenge victory this year, and her third win in Durban since 2007. Rutendo Nyahora was second in 34.26, followed by the 2010 and 2011 SPAR Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Blerk, in 34.39. Kalmer’s sister Christine was hot on van Blerk’s heels, with a time of 34.48.

Kalmer looked comfortable throughout the race and was never under any pressure. She started pulling away at three kilometres, with the distance between her and the rest of the field growing with every kilometre covered.

“I found the route quite tough,” said Kalmer. “I had hoped to beat last year’s winning time of 32.50, but those last five kilometres were hard going. It was uphill all the way and I struggled a bit. “Last year, I had to pull out at about three kilometres with ITB problems, so I was very happy to come back with a positive attitude this year. I’m very happy with the win.”

Zimbabwean Nyahora said the first three kilometres had been too fast for her, and so she had been unable to challenge Kalmer. “I didn’t have a great race,” said Van Blerk. “It just wasn’t my day. I think my focus has changed – I’m training for the Olympic Marathon and that has affected my racing. Marathon training is very different and mentally it’s quite tough. Next year I can concentrate on the 10km races again.”

Van Blerk and Kalmer will both be running the Olympic Marathon on August 5. South Africa’s third Olympic Marathon runner, Tanith Maxwell, finished ninth in 35.42 minutes, to win the sub-veteran category.

Kalmer, who recently won a half marathon in Japan, said the SPAR races helped her with her Olympic Games preparations. “There is always a SPAR race to prepare for throughout the year, and that has helped me to focus.” She said she and the other marathon runners would go into a period of intense training for the next few weeks, before easing off for a week or so before the race.”


WESTERN CAPE SCHOOLS BENEFIT FROM WUNC LEGACY PROGRAMME

Johannesburg, South Africa - Scores of schoolgirls from schools in and around Cape Town will benefit from the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) Legacy programme next month when the competing teams conduct coaching clinics at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on Sunday July 1.
Primary school players will attend the coaching clinics from 9am to 11am in the morning and the high schools from 11am to 1pm.

The participating schools were nominated by the Western Province Schools Netball Union as being particularly worthy of extra attention. Most of the schools are from deprived areas with few sports facilities. The WUNC mascot, Pukki, will distribute t-shirts and snack packs to all those attending the coaching clinics.

“The Legacy programme is a very important part of the WUNC,” said tournament director Helene Botha. “Players at that level are very focussed on high performance, and coaching players at grass roots level reminds them of why they love to play the game,” she said.
“They are reminded of their passion for netball, and the clinics give them the opportunity to give something back to the game.”

Botha said much of the Legacy programme would be devoted to skills training, with emphasis on defence and attack. She said meeting players who have reached a high level of performance would inspire the youngsters attending the clinics. “I think they will see the opportunities that working hard at the game can open up,” said Botha.

The organisers are encouraging as many schools and clubs in and around Cape Town to come to watch the tournament, and ticket prices have been kept low. Adults pay R20 and children younger than 12 pay R10.

The tournament will be played at the Good Hope Centre from 2 – 7 July 2012.


SPAR SOUTH AFRICA UPSET JAMAICA IN FINAL NETBALL TEST

Johannesburg, South Africa - For the first time in 28 years on Tuesday, South Africa beat Jamaica in an international netball test match. SPAR South Africa beat Jamaica 56-49 in the third and final test played in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica however won the test series 2-1.

Inspired by the late Whitney Houston hit, “The Greatest love of All”, the SPAR Proteas walked onto court on Sunday with a greater belief in themselves and gained immediate respect from not only their opponents but the crowd. It was obvious that the Proteas had regrouped since the last test on Sunday and looked a confident and collected team.

“I was really disappointed after the last test” admitted Protea Coach, Elize Kotze. “I was hard on the girls and told them that they had to believe in themselves and if they did they would believe in the team and play as a strong unit.” The inspiration seemed to work as the Proteas played a consistently aggressive attacking game throughout the four quarters allowing a limited attack by the Sunshine Girls.

It was a dream start for the fired up SPAR Proteas in the first quarter who turned two balls around within minutes of the start and within only 3 minutes of the game led 4-0. The Proteas fought hard and in a real physical first half the visitors had doubled their lead to 12-6 with 4 minutes remaining in the half. The brilliant combination of Amanda Mynhardt (Goal Defence) and Vanes-Mari du Toit (Goal Keeper) restricted the tall star Jamaican shooter Shanielle Fowler who was clearly frustrated by the South African’s tactics. At the end of the entertaining first quarter South Africa led 17-13.

The Proteas made a strong second half start and turned around four balls to take a 22-15 lead. Erin Burger at Centre played a brilliant part with Nokuthula Qequ (Wing Defence) in moving the ball swiftly from centre to circle and Goal Shooter, Chrisna Bootha was well on target in the circle.

But the Sunshine Girls are never to be written off. Their popular captain Nadine Bryan, playing in her 100th test made two crucial interceptions which seemed to throw the Proteas slightly off course. The Proteas lost the second quarter 13-14 diminishing their lead and by the half time whistle the Proteas led 30-27.

“We had to look hard at ourselves at the break” said Jamaican Captain, Nadine Bryan. “I told my girls that the last two quarters were going to be tough and they had better be ready for the battle. South Africa played the final two quarters like their lives depended on it and I must applaud them for their incredible fight …. They won battle but I am pleased we won the war.”

After the half time break, there was a very different Sunshine Girls team that took to court. The hometown favourites stepped up a gear and six minutes into the third quarter they had equalled the score for the first time in the game at 30-30. They turned the ball around, intercepted and rattled the South African’s and were soon five goals in the lead. A switch by Kotze replacing a struggling Vice Captain, Zanele Mdodana with Bongi Mthembu didn’t seem to give the Proteas any advantage. The Jamaicans ran away with the third quarter winning it 17 18 and lead overall 4438 going into the final quarter.

In the final quarter, the SPAR Proteas gave it their all. It was a brave performance and a much higher intensity amongst the South African players was evident on court compared to the previous two tests. The star of the Jamaican side, Fowler in a tussle for ball with Vanes-Mari du Toit injured her ankle and back and was replaced by new cap Vanessa Walker.

After five minutes into the quarter the Proteas levelled at 44-44 and then the visitors found new life. Brilliant combinations and great goal shooting saw the Proteas take a five point lead (50-45). A desperate Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie decided to bring back on Fowler and to a thunderous applause the giant shooter returned to court with her ankle heavily strapped. Fowler, despite injured, gave the home side hope and her athleticism helped restore some order to the battered Jamaican side.

However the Proteas sensed victory and kept their composure keeping on the attack with Maryka Holtzhausen (Goal Attack) netting two goals from the base of the circle with minutes to spare. The Proteas won the final quarter 18-5 and the test 56-49. The last minutes were loud and raucous and all credit to the players who managed despite the noise to maintain their composure.

“What a win, what a performance, I am so proud of my girls!” said Kotze. “This win could be the start of new and great things for the team and netball in South Africa.”

Elize Kotze, Proteas Coach made a change to her starting line up by switching Captain Amanda Mynhardt to Goal Defence and Vanes-Mari du Toit to Goal Keeper. “I thought hard about what would be best for the team. I think the changes made a difference. Fowler the star Goal Shooter was clearly troubled and I have said all along she is key to the team. My girls did well to take the gentle giant.”

Oberon Pitterson-Nattie, the Jamaican Coach gave full praise to South Africa. “The South African girls were organised and came at us hard, and really made a brilliant comeback in this test. I have said it before and I say it again, South Africa should be in the top three of world netball. They are tough and really talented. I was very proud of my girls winning the series against such a fantastic team.”

A glowing Protea Captain, Amanda Mynhardt said that the win meant the world to her and her team. “We really have been working so hard for this win and we needed it. It came at the right time and we will take a lot from the win going forward. Each one of us is proud tonight, proud for ourselves and proud for our country. We believed in ourselves individually and that spilt over to us believing in our team and the team’s effort. ”


JAMAICA DOWN SOUTH AFRICA IN NETBALL TEST SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite a strong start, the SPAR Protea Netball team battled to keep their momentum and hold a fired up Jamaican team in the second test played on Sunday evening in Kingston, Jamaica.

SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt leaps in defence against the Jamaican Goal Shooter Shanielle Fowler during Sunday’s test match.

South Africa’s Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fights for the ball with Jamaica’s Goal Defence Malysha Kelly close behind.

SPAR Proteas Centre player Erin Burger in action during the second test on Sunday.
PICTURES BY: COLLIN REID


The Jamaican Sunshine Girls beat the Proteas 61-46 and in doing so secured a series win over the visitors after they had won Friday’s opening test 63-48. The third and final test will be played on Tuesday.

“For South Africa to be a top four team, we have to keep up the intensity, be disciplined and work harder at securing goals after interception” said a visibly disappointed South African coach, Elize Kotze. “I am not sure if my girls are fit enough? I just can’t pin point it right now but to be so on the ball for two quarters and then fade away indicates to me that we have a lot of work to do in all areas.”

The first quarter was a close encounter and went neck and neck right until the last seconds when Jamaica intercepted a pass from Protea Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana and transferred the interception into a high pass to the tall Jamaican 6’5” star shooter, Shanielle Fowler who netted a goal to give the hometown team a 13-12 lead.

Jamaican coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie said she was impressed with the strong start by South Africa. “Jamaica started slow and South Africa were right on us. I told my girls to keep their composure and once they got going no one was going to stop them.”

Going into the second quarter a visibly troubled Jamaican side made two changes to their starting line-up and brought on Anna Kay Griffiths (Goal Attack) and Vangelee Williams (Goal Keeper). The new combination gave the Sunshine Girls the edge, and they managed within five minutes of the half to increase the one point lead by four points to 23-19. Jamaica were fast in their movement from the centre to circle and their speed and agility rattled the Proteas. Jamaica kept up the lead until half time winning the second quarter 15-12 taking the score to 28-24 at the whistle.

“My team made a shaky start, probably because South Africa surprised us with their brilliant start. At the half break we were forced to make some changes especially in defence and the strategy worked well” said Jamaican Captain, Nadine Brown.

South Africa coach, Elize Kotze opted to keep her same starting line-up going into the third quarter. Jamaica made one further change after half time.

The third quarter was a fiery and physical encounter plagued by pushes and falls. The strong and tall Jamaicans got the better of the smaller South African’s and three missed goals by Protea Shooter, Chrisna Bootha allowed Jamaica to increase their lead. Three brilliant interceptions by the home side added to the South African woes and the Jamaican’s won the third quarter 15 - 10, and took a ten point overall lead (43-34) going into the final quarter.

Jamaica dominated the final quarter with Nadine Bryan playing a key role in her wing attack position. Although South Africa showed clear signs of fight and improvement, the Jamaicans moved the ball to the circle far quicker and more swiftly than their opponents, allowing for more opportunity. Jamaica won the quarter 15-10.

Shanielle Fowler proved once again to be a key role player in the Jamaican team. The Goal Shooter had an impressive 99% average, which for any team is a major asset. “Fowler is the match winner for sure” said Kotze. “Jamaica are very lucky to have Fowler in the side. She is a very intimidating player; tall, big, strong and despite her size a brilliant athlete which seriously contributes to the overall success of the team.”

Despite the series being lost, Kotze said her team would go all out to salvage some pride in the final test on Tuesday. “We are South African’s and we fight hard. We will work hard at putting on our best ever performance on Tuesday and aim to win the final test and walk away with a win.”

QUOTES

AMANDA MYNHARDT: SPAR Protea Captain

“The Jamaicans played very well; I have to give it to them. They were the better team. We had a good first and second quarter and then our intensity dropped in the last two quarters and I think we just didn’t finish off at times.”

NADINE BRYAN: Jamaican Captain

“I feel fabulous having won this test and securing the series. South Africa came out strong and we had to make quite a few adjustments to our game. All credit to them it was a wonderful effort.”

OBERON OITTERSON-NATTIE: Jamaican Coach

“It was good game of netball and South Africa played well, especially in their defensive area really cramping our attacking team, but the good thing about the Jamaican team is that we were able to hold our composure and really come out of it somewhat, and that I am proud of. I thought our defensive team really did a better job in containing the South African attacking team. But there is a lot of work to be done and we are sure to look at that some more.”

ELIZE KOTZE: SPAR Protea Coach

“It’s important for us to be able to run for a whole hour like we did in the first two quarters. The fact that the team showed for two quarters wshat South Africa’s potential is and what they really can do, is exciting for me, and I am glad that we can work at that level against one of the world’s top teams.”

“Unfortunately a game is not 30 minutes and we have to work at the keeping the tempo lasting for 60 minutes at this international level”

“I am extremely proud of my defenders who did a real good job on court today in bringing that ball down, but we will have to work on the discipline of the attackers once they have the ball in hand.”

“Fowler is a major problem for us as she scored 57 of the 63 Jamaican goals scored. Everything is around Fowler, the Jamaican team is Fowler and Jamaica relies on her a lot, so obviously we have to match Fowler and keep the ball away from the advantage area.”


SUNSHINE GIRLS BEAT PROTEAS IN OPENING NETBALL TEST

Johannesburg, South Africa - It was never going to be easy for the SPAR Protea netball team as they took on hometown favourites Jamaica in the first of three tests on Friday evening in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana in action against the Sunshine Girls during the first test against Jamaica on Friday 15 June 2012.

SPAR Proteas Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fights for the ball during the first test against the Sunshine Girls in Jamaica on 15 June 2012.
PICTURES BY: COLLIN REID


It was a tough, fast and very physical encounter between the Proteas and the Sunshine Girls with the home team winning 63-48.

“At least we halved the score from our last encounter against Jamaica at the World Championships last year where they beat us 64-37” said Protea coach, Elize Kotze. “That’s the positive and I always look for the positives after a loss. We had enough ball possession to secure this match. We did an extremely good job on defence. Both defenders Vanes-Mari du Toit and Amanda Mynhardt did well on goal keeper and our new cap Anneret Viljoen (goal defence), Erin Burger (centre) and Thuli Qegu (wing defence) played a solid role tonight” continued Kotze.

The packed stadium was loud and vocal and gave the Sunshine Girls incredible support throughout.

The high scoring first quarter saw a brilliant start by the Proteas as they moved the ball swiftly from centre to circle like seasoned pros and opened the scoring. But the strong start was cut short by Jamaica who intercepted brilliantly with Captain Nadine Bryan in particular creating plenty of opportunity for her team. The Jamaican shooters were on target and by the end of the first quarter the Sunshine Girls were leading 17-12

Going into the second quarter, Protea Coach Elize Kotze made one substitution replacing Captain, Amanda Mynhardt with new cap Anneret Viljoen. The Proteas played a solid second quarter but once again the Jamaican intercepting was on target and the Proteas gave away plenty of opportunities. However the Proteas held on to hold the Jamaican’s to a 14-14 draw quarter score.

In the third quarter, SPAR Protea captain Amanda Mynhardt, with a heavily strapped thigh, returned to court. Her strong leadership was evident as she led the Proteas to within 3 points of Jamaica. But once again the Sunshine Girls regrouped and “silly mistakes” by South Africa cost them, and the Jamaican team won the quarter 16-13.

In the final quarter, Kotze brought on fresh legs in Bongi Msomi and Precious Mthembu. However, edged on by the partisan crowd, the Jamaican outfit stepped up their game and scored five consecutive goals to give them a 13 point lead with eight minutes remaining. This put added pressure on the Proteas who struggled to minimise the deficit and lost the quarter 9-16.

“We need to work on our discipline when we have ball possession” said Kotze. “We made too many unforced errors and it’s very important to capitalise on ball in hand, an area we need to have more discipline on. We had more than enough turn over and ball possession to secure the game.”

Jamaican coach, Oberon PItterson-Nattie said she was delighted with her team’s performance. “I am very comfortable and I was happy with their performance. It wasn’t perfect but they had good spirit, at times they failed to do a lot of things especially moving the ball well and placing the ball in the circle.”

The second test will take place Sunday 17 June with the third and final test taking place Tuesday 19 June.

QUOTES:

South African Coach, Elize Kotze

“I think Jamaica are in the same position as South Africa when it comes to first line players on court and like us, have to carry a few youngsters. So it’s not exactly true to say they have a new team, there is some experience in their side”

“Shanielle Fowler their Goal Shooter is really a wonderful athlete and her physical presence is quite intimidating in the circle. But saying that, we had brave performances against her from Vanes-Mari du Toit and Amanda Mynhardt”

“We will have to work on the ball going into the circle area too quickly. Fowler shot 47 of the Jamaican goals so she is definitely a wonderful athlete and the key player we have to watch”

Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie

“I was impressed with my new caps especially my Goal Keeper who did well.”

“The Shooter (Chrisna Bootha) gave us a lot of problems and that is something we have to look at and make some adjustments.”

“South Africa were very aggressive on both defensive and offensive sides, that is something they have to be proud of.”

“My team will be looking to make adjustments especially taking better care of the ball.”

South African Captain, Amanda Mynhardt

“I feel we went out tonight and performed much better against Jamaica than we did last year at the World Champs. That’s a real positive for me.”

“This is three tests, we have only played one and we can improve with the rest and I am sure after tonight’s game, Elize and Lana will work on us improving. My team are ready to step it up going into Sunday”

“There were some real good things and some real stupid things from tonight and we need to look back at the positives but work hard on the negatives.”

“The Jamaican Goal Shooter Fowler is a real intimidating athlete. She is tall, jumps and moves well and we have to look for everything coming from her and make the interceptions accordingly.”

“The Jamaicans don’t stand back where some of our players draw back when the ball comes in. The Jamaicans got the better of some of our players, they got into our players’ minds and we should have played on fighting and not stepped back for them because the moment they get the overhead they will go for it.”

Jamaican Captain, Nadine Bryan

“I am relieved to have won the first test. It wasn’t as smooth as I hoped and we had to make some adjustments to make a strong finish. My girls will be on the practise court tomorrow to sort out the grey areas.”


A FEW NIGGLES WON’T STOP THE SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team emerged bruised and battered from their match against the Jamaican Under21 team in Kingston on Thursday night, but coach Elize Kotze says they are ready for their first Test against Jamaica on Friday night.

“We got a good taste of the physicality we are likely to encounter when we play the senior team,” Kotze told a telephonic conference.

South Africa beat Jamaica Under21 by 46 goals to 36. “I started with my frontline team, but I had to take the top players off after the first quarter, when it became very physical and quite dangerous. The Jamaicans targeted Erin Burger in particular, and I wanted to make sure that our top players were available for the Tests. “It also gave me an opportunity to give the younger players a game, because there is no guarantee that they will all be able to play in the Test matches.”

Kotze said there were some bruises and niggles after the match against the Under21 team, but there were no serious injuries. “The players are in superb condition,” she said. “The only problem is that Jamaica are in the middle of their league competition, so they are at their peak, while we have not played any competitive netball for some time.”

She dismissed suggestions that the Sunshine Girls would have a physical advantage over the Proteas. “Yes, they have some very tall players, but so do we,” she said. “Vanes-Mari du Toit is as tall as any of their players. There is not much difference between the average heights of the two teams.”

Kotze said South Africa and Jamaica were both in the process of re-building, with some players having retired after the World Cup in Singapore last year, and both had a blend of experienced and up and coming players.

She said she was not concerned that the match might become too physical. “We will have neutral international umpires, who will keep things under strict control,” said Kotze.

The second Test will be played on Sunday and the third and final Test on Tuesday.


SPAR PROTEAS GAIN CONFIDENCE IN JAMAICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team boosted their confidence on the eve (Thursday) of their first test against Jamaica with a “satisfying and solid” win over the Jamaican Under21 side at the National Arena in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

SPAR Proteas vice-captain in action against the U21 Jamaican side in their warm up match, on Thursday 14 June 2012.

Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fighting for the ball in the SPAR Proteas warm up match on Thursday 14 June 2012.
PICTURES/ COLLIN REID


In the only warm up match of their preparations, the Proteas beat the Jamaican side 46-36.

South Africa and Jamaica each won two quarters but Protea Coach, Elize Kotze said that she was satisfied, and with trying new combinations and switching players, that was expected.

“I saw what I wanted to see and am happy with my team. I am satisfied with the girls and they played an all-round solid game” said Kotze.

One concern to Kotze was that her team have not trained on the floor and in the stadium where the three tests will be played. The tests to be played on 15, 17 and 19 June are of major importance to South Africa as a series win over the higher ranked Islanders (4) will move South Africa up a spot on the world rankings to 5 ahead of the African rivals Malawi.

“Although I am satisfied with our preparation since arrival on Monday it would have been better to “feel” and “experience” the test venue. But we are not going to let that get us down. My girls are so positive and are in a great space and I want to keep it that way” said Kotze.

The timing of a major Boxing event in the same stadium (National Indoor Sports Centre) on Wednesday evening prevented the Proteas from training in the stadium. The sprung floor will only be laid by mid-afternoon Friday, only hours before the first test.

The SPAR Proteas coach made a few changes in Thursday’s warm up game and tried out a few new combinations. But Kotze said a priority was to give the front starting players time on court so that they were prepared for the opening test.

Kotze started the first quarter with her planned first test opening line up. The quarter started slow for South Africa and although they won 18-8, the girls “made too many mistakes” and gave away “too many free points.” Towards the end of the quarter, South Africa’s goal keeper Vanes-Marie Du Toit and centre Erin Burger spearheaded a string of good interceptions which enabled the Proteas to double the score (14-7) two minutes from time.

The second quarter saw Kotze bring on wing attack Bongi Msomi and goal defence Anneret Viljoen. The Proteas put on added pressure but ill-discipline within the South African side saw their lead drop and by half time, although the Proteas lost the quarter (8-10) the Proteas still led overall with 26-18.

In the third quarter, Kotze pulled off all her top players as she felt the Jamaican players were playing “far too aggressive” and she was concerned the top players would get injured ahead of Friday’s opening test. “I don’t mind my girls being bruised physically but can’t afford them to be bruised mentally” said Kotze.

The four new players brought new energy to the Proteas and seven quick goals were scored by South Africa within four minutes of the quarter. However the young Jamaican side kept up the pressure and held the Proteas from running away with the game. The quarter ended in South Africa’s favour (12-8), extending their lead to 38-26.

The final quarter saw the Proteas making an impressive start with the ball moving swiftly from centre to goal with star shooter Chrisna Botha scoring impressively. Botha was the only player to play all four quarters and ended the match with an impressive 92% average. However, the Jamaican team fought hard and won the quarter (8-10).

SCORE CARD
First Quarter: 18- 8 South Africa
Second Quarter: 8-10 Jamaica
Third Quarter: 12-8 South Africa
Fourth Quarter: 8-10 Jamaica
Final score 46 -36

QUOTES

ELIZE KOTZE, COACH

“There was no reason after the first quarter leading by 10 goals to expose our first line under the difficult circumstances. This was a training match and opportunity for us to get guarantee on our decision for our first line.”

“It was important that everyone got court time especially our younger players and tonight’s game allowed that. For three quarters we played five of seven young players to give them the exposure to the pressure of the Jamaican style and crowd.”

“The excellent average of our shooters Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen put the stamp of approval as them being definite first liners.”

“The players showed true character right through the physical onslaught of Jamaica.”

“It comforts me to know that our players can absorb this type of pressure in preparation of what’s to come.”

LANA KRIGE, ASSISTANT COACH

“It was a good entree to the main course. The crowd were lively, the game was aggressive and it was a good preparation for what is expected.”

“The girls showed signs of absolute brilliance and adapted well to what was thrown at them.”

AMANDA MYNHARDT, CAPTAIN

“We played a great solid first quarter and our new caps did themselves proud. It’s always great to pull off a win before going into the series.”

ZANELE MDODANA, VICE-CAPTAIN

“It was a great team performance under the circumstances. It’s great to see that we have 12 solid players making substitution easy.”


THE HEAT IS ON FOR THE SPAR PROTEAS IN JAMAICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Captain Amanda Mynhardt’s world number 6 South Africa women’s netball team are anticipating Friday evening’s first test against Jamaica, the world number 4 ranked netball nation, with excitement and a dash of caution.

Training.1.jpg
SPAR Proteas training in Kingston, Jamaica ahead of their three test series against the islanders this week.

SPAR Protea South Africa netball team cool off at the stadium pool in Kingston, Jamaica after rigorous training session at the Leila Robinson courts on Wednesday 13 June 2012.
PICTURES/ COLLIN REID


“Not knowing what to expect from the young, new Jamaican “Sunshine Girls” is why there is so much anticipation amongst the SPAR Protea camp, “said Mynhardt after Wednesday’s practice session. “However we have settled nicely into Kingston, are enjoying the warmer weather and look forward to our warm up game tomorrow (Thursday) against the Jamaican under21 side.”

South Africa, who impressed at last year’s World Netball Championships in Singapore where they placed fifth, are keen to test their progress against the favoured hometown team as they start their preparation for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

“Playing Jamaica is a fantastic challenge and our girls and management staff are excited at the opportunity to see how we perform against a team - that in my opinion - is undoubtedly one of the best sides in the world,” said SPAR Proteas Coach Elize Kotze, .

According to the Jamaican Netball Coach Oberon Pittseron-Nattie, South Africa has surprised one and all with their speed skills and movement around the court, especially in centre court. Pittseron-Nattie holds high regard for Captain Amanda Mynhardt who she says is a “cheeky player.” The Sunshine Girls coach also believes that Erin Burger, the 2011 World Champs player of the tournament brings enormous experience to the side. Pittseron-Nattie also had full praise for the Protea shooters, Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen who she said were “solid and accurate.”
Zanele Mdodana remains a very versatile player that can be used on wing attack and wing defence and her partnership as Vice-captain with Captain Amanda Mynhardt seems to be working wonderfully well. The Proteas are showing more consistency and the intensity of the team has been impressive. With not many changes from last year’s successful World Championships team, the continuity of the core of the team has remained the same. Thuli Qegu from Ekurhuleni is proving to be one of the most exciting and versatile players in the country. Qegu has a tremendous work rate and instinct for the game and has proved herself as a first line opportunity. Then the glamour girl of the team, Vanes-Mari Du Toit’s height and elevation will help combat the tall and strong Jamaican shooters.

“The girls love the added pressure and stimulation of playing one of the world’s top teams,” said Kotze. “We know we are one of the best in the world and we feel time has come for us to challenge a top four spot on the world rankings. We are not yet where we want to be, but after the impressive performance in Singapore last year there is no doubt that we have the capabilities of cracking a top four spot.”
The South African team have three new caps in their touring side in Anneret Viljoen, Annemarie Frost, and Mampho Tsotetsi. “These are exciting new players to our side and bring a fresh new feel to the team. The new and old experienced players gel well and bring an exciting mix to our strategy” said Assistant Coach, Lana Krige. Krige a former Protea player was one of the most successful and capped players in our country. Based now in the Eastern Cape, Krige played in 82 international tests for South Africa over a period of 12 years.
Kotze said that having Krige as her right hand girl was fantastic. “The respect I have for Lana as a former player and now a coach is enormous. Lana has brought such a wealth of experience into our team and we are already seeing the benefits.”
“Through our sponsorship by SPAR, we have been able to tour Jamaica and continue to be a dominant force in international netball,” said Kotze. “We now need to play more and more competition and gain more and more confidence and experience.”

Fridays test will be the first of three against Jamaica. The test on Friday will be played at 19h30 in the Independence Park, Jamaica. The second test will be played on Sunday at 17h30 with the third and final test taking place at 19h30 on Tuesday.


SPAR PROTEAS ALL SMILES ON ARRIVAL

Johannesburg, South Africa - An upbeat SPAR Protea Netball Team jetted into Kingston, Jamaica late Monday evening ahead of their three test tour in the Caribbean Island.

An excited and jubilant SPAR Protea team on arrival at Norman Manley airport yesterday afternoon.
From left to right: (back row) Annemarie Frost, Amanda Mynhardt (Captain); Chrisna Bootha; Anneret Viljoen; Vanes-Mari du Toit; Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain).
(Front row) Maryka Holtzhausen; Mampho Tsotetsi ; Nokuthula Qegu; Precious Mthembu; Erin Burger; Bongiwe Msomi

SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt, Coach Elize Kotze, President Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard, South African High Commissioner to Jamaica Mathu Joyini and Carlene Edwards of Supreme Ventures on arrival at Norman Manley airport.
PHOTOS/COLLIN REID


The team were met by South African High Commissioner to Jamaica Miss Mathu Joyini, President Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard and Carlene Edwards of Supreme Ventures (the sponsor of series) on arrival at Norman Manley airport.

“It’s been one very long flight from South Africa via London” said Vice-Captain, Zanele Mdodana. “We are very happy to be in Kingston and more so in the warmer weather.”

After the formalities at the Norman Manley International Airport were completed, the South African team were escorted to their official hotel and immediately taken for a short city jog and light training session at the Independent Park Indoor Sports Centre where the three tests will be played.

“It’s important to get the girls moving after a long 18 hour flight” said Coach, Elize Kotze. “A light jog in the city and training session will help the girls overcome the jet-lag, get them acclimatised to the hot and humid conditions and familiarise them with their new home for the next few days.” “The flight was long but very pleasant and the girls feel surprisingly fresh now that they have reached Jamaica.”

National Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie said that she was delighted to welcome the South African team to Jamaica. “My “Sunshine girls” are really excited to have the Proteas in our country. We have enormous respect for the South African outfit, who have a handful of fantastic players and know that the three tests will be electric, fast and very physical. They will be a treat for the Jamaican netball fans.”

“We have a young new team that need to prove themselves, but both our team and South Africa have shown much improvement in recent years so this upcoming series promises to be an interesting encounter” said Pitterson-Nattie.

The SPAR Proteas play Jamaica in three tests on the 15, 17 and 19 June.


SOUTH AFRICA PLAY IRELAND IN OPENING UNIVERSITIES MATCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - Host nation South Africa will play Ireland in the opening match of the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town, in accordance with the draw conducted on Tuesday.

Tia Marx FISU attaché for the WUNC and Helene Botha with NWU-Pukke University and WUNC Mascot Pukki at the official draw conducted at the High Performance Institute of NWU-Pukke, the facilitating university for the tournament.
Picture by: Mario van de Wall


The inaugural WUNC tournament is to be played at the Good Hope Centre from July 2 tohttp://withtank.com/admin/sites/www.thebldgroup.com/sections/latest-news/list/ July 7, under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation, the biggest multi-discipline sports federation after the International Olympic Committee.

The global economic crisis has had an impact on the tournament. Initially, 18 countries indicated that they would be sending teams, but because of financial constraints, only seven have confirmed their participation. Those who have dropped out include the two netball powerhouses, Australia and New Zealand.

Because of the reduced numbers, the tournament will be played on a round robin basis, instead of the pool system initially planned. The top four teams will then meet in the semifinals. “Although it is disappointing that we have reduced numbers, it is not the end of the world,” said FISU Netball chair Helene Botha. “It means that the participating teams will have more time on court, with each team playing a minimum of six matches,” she said.
“This is not just good news for the teams taking part, but also for the people of Cape Town, who will have a feast of netball that week.”

The seven teams taking part are South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Namibia, Uganda and the United States. Because it is the inaugural Universities tournament, there is no official ranking, but Jamaica, Great Britain and South Africa are expected to be the most competitive teams.

The opening match will be preceded by the final of the University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships, which will be played in the week leading up to the World Championships.
All seven teams will be in action on the opening day. The second match of the day is between Jamaica and Uganda, followed by the United States versus Great Britain. In the final match of the day, Ireland will be in action again, taking on Namibia.


SPAR PROTEAS SET OFF IN GOOD SPIRITS

Johannesburg, South Africa - An upbeat and excited SPAR Protea netball team took off from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg last night for their long haul flight via London to Kingston, Jamaica.

Team members from left to right: Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain), Elize Kotze (Coach), Erin Burger, Annemarie Frost, Bongiwe Msomi and Vanes-Mari du Toit during the SPAR Proteas national netball team departure to Jamaica from O.R. Tambo International Airport on June 10, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Goal shooter, Chrisna Bootha signs autographs for young fans Chloe Smith (left) and Ami Davidson during the SPAR Proteas national netball team departure to Jamaica from O.R. Tambo International Airport on June 10, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

The world number six ranked team will be touring Jamaica over the next ten days and will be playing three tests against the “Sunshine Girls” on the 15, 17 and 19 June.

“We are ready and in a real good frame of mind to take on Jamaica” said Proteas coach Elize Kotze. “The girls have been working very hard for this tour, they know what is at stake and with some new caps and experienced players in our squad I believe that we have every chance of doing well and upsetting the favoured Jamaican team.”

Jamaica who is ranked four in the world has played South Africa twelve times since 1963 and South Africa has only won three tests against the islanders. “We respect the Jamaican team. They are tall, fast and play a unique aggressive type of netball that is difficult to counter. They also have the advantage of playing at home, and are a young side so will be going all out to prove in front of their fans what they are made of. This will make it tough but we are ready to take on the challenge” continued Kotze.

Amanda Mynhardt, Captain of the SPAR Proteas said that she was most impressed with how her team were looking in the pre departure training camp held in Pretoria. “I was inspired by each and every one of my players. They put so much into the training camp and showed signs of real greatness. I believe strongly in the players we have and I know we can do some serious damage in Kingston. I was particularly inspired by the positive way we ended our training camp – a good sign for a Captain.”

The SPAR Proteas will arrive in Kingston, Jamaica late on Monday evening and will play a warm up game against the Jamaican under21 side on Thursday 14 June.


WORLD UNIVERITY NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS ON TRACK FOR THE MOTHER CITY

Cape Town, South Africa - The worldwide economic crisis has had its effect on the inaugural World University Netball Championships (WUNC) to be held at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from July 2 to 7.
Initially, 18 countries indicated that they would send teams to the tournament, which is being held under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the biggest multi-code sports organisation after the International Olympic Committee.
However, because of financial constraints, only seven have confirmed that they will be taking part. Those who have dropped out include the two netball powerhouses, Australia and New Zealand.
The seven teams taking part are hosts South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Namibia, the United States and Uganda.
Tournament Director Helene Botha said (On Thursday) the tournament would now be played on a round robin basis, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
“It is disappointing, but it is not a train smash,” said Botha.
“It means that each team will play a minimum of six matches, with one bye, so they will all be getting a lot of time on court. Each team will have a bye.
South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland and Jamaica are the teams expected to go through to the semi-finals.
The draw for the tournament will be conducted on Tuesday.
Botha said all the teams would conduct coaching clinics in and around Cape Town as part of FISU’s outreach programme.
“We are hoping that the people of Cape Town will turn out in their droves to watch the netball and support the South African Universities team, which includes four members of the Spar national team which leaves on Sunday for a three-Test series against Jamaica,” said Botha.


JAMAICA COACH EXPECTS COMPETITIVE SERIES AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA

Jamaican netball coach Oberon Pittseron-Nattie expects a hard and competitive series against South Africa in Kingston later this month.
The Proteas, ranked sixth in the world, leave for Kingston on Sunday for a three-Test series against the fourth-ranked Sunshine Girls.
“We have great respect for South Africa,” Pitterson-Nattie said on a telephone conference call on Wednesday.
“They are very fast around the court, and we expect every match to be tough.”
The coach said Jamaica were in a re-building stage, with a number of senior players having retired after the world championships in Singapore last year.
“We only have four members of the World Championship team left, but they will play a very important role as we start preparing for the next major tournament, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
“We have a very young team, but they are full of energy, and like South Africa, they are hungry for a win.”
Pitterson-Nattie said the Jamaican team were working on strategies to deal with some of the more experienced South African players.
“You have fantastic centre court players, and your captain Amanda Mynhardt is a very aggressive and strong player, and a wonderful leader,” she said. “You also have very accurate shooters.
“We will aim to get the ball from centre to the goal circle as quickly as possible, to give our very tall goalshooter an opportunity to get the ball into the net.”
South Africa and Jamaica have played against each other 12 times since 1963, with Jamaica recording nine wins to South Africa’s three.
The coach said she was confident that Jamaica could break into the top three in the world. They have a series against England in September, and Pitterson-Nattie said if they could get past third-ranked England, they would feel more confident about challenging the world’s top netball countries, Australia and New Zealand.


PROTEAS UPBEAT AHEAD OF JAMAICA TOUR

Pretoria, South Africa - The Spar national netball head off to Jamaica on Sunday brimful of confidence after a successful training camp in Pretoria.
“We put the players under a lot of pressure during the camp, and they responded very positively,” said head coach Elize Kotze.

Photo Caption: From left to right Netball South Africa Vice President Blanche De La Guerre, Spar Netball Proteas Vice Captain Zanele Mdodana and Spar Netball Proteas team Captain Amanda Mynhardt at the Post training camp press conference in Pretoria ahead of next week‘s tour to Jamaica.

Photo Caption: Spar Proteas Netball Captain Amanda Mynhardt addressing the media at a post training camp press conference in Pretoria on Monday. Team coach Elize Kotze looks on

Photo Caption: The SPAR Proteas Netball team at a press conference in Pretoria after a successful training camp held over the weekend. The team leaves for a short tour of Jamaica on Sunday (10June 2012). From L – R behind: Lana Krige (Assistant coach), Erin Burger, Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain), Chrisna Bootha, Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Aneret Viljoen and Elize Kotze (Coach). Front: Precious Mthembu, Mampho Tsotetsi, Annemarie Frost, Bongiwe Msomi and Thuli Qegu .


The Proteas, ranked fifth in the world, will play a three-test series against fourth-ranked Jamaica, with a warm-up match against the Jamaican Under-21 side.
“I think we have come a long way since we played Jamaica at the World Championships in Singapore last year,” said Kotze.
“We made a lot of soft unforced errors, and we have been working hard at eliminating those. The players are focusing on what we do right, and we have overcome the fear of failure. We have watched footage of that match over and over and we know what we did wrong.”
Kotze said it was important for South Africa to keep playing against the top netballing countries.
“If we want to improve our ranking, we have to play the better sides, and we learn more from playing them than constantly playing against teams that are weaker than us. Jamaica is also an amateur netball country, unlike Australia and New Zealand, and I believe this is the time for us to take that step up.”
She said she was very happy with the 12 players selected for the tour.
“Having Vanes-Mari du Toit as goalkeeper, working with Amanda Mynhardt as goal defence, means we have the players who can physically challenge those very tall Jamaican players,” she said.
“I’m also very happy with our centre court players. With players like Erin (Burger), Bongi (Bongiwe Msomo) and Mampho (Tsotetsi), we have so many options, and we are able to have a Plan B or even a Plan C.
“There is no guarantee that all 12 members of the squad will get court time – the team will be selected according to the circumstances. Some of our players have years of experience, which gives them an edge. Players have to earn their court time,” said Kotze.
A number of players have toured Jamaica before, either as part of the Under 21 team or with the senior team in 2008, and captain Mynhardt said this would help them to deal with a very different playing environment.
“The crowds are very passionate, and it can get very noisy. We will just have focus on what we are doing, and listen to each other.”
“I love playing in Jamaica. It’s very exciting,” said Vice-captain Zanele Mdodana. “There are drums and music and a lot of shouting. It can be intimidating, but we need to feed off that energy and let it work for us.”


SOUTH AFRICAN NETBALL NEEDS MORE GAME TIME

Johannesburg, South Africa - The captain of the SPAR South African netball team, Amanda Mynhardt, arrived back in South Africa last week in time for the team’s final training camp before their departure for a three-Test series against Jamaica.

Amanda Mynhardt in action against Jamaica at the 2011 World Netball Championships held in Singapore.
Picture credit: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Mynhardt spent three months in Auckland, New Zealand, playing for Collegiates Club in the North Harbour netball league. “I learned so much from my three months there,” she said on Wednesday. “They play a very different style of netball and we played at least once, and sometimes twice a week.
“Getting so much game time was very valuable. We don’t get nearly enough game time in South Africa, and that is one of the things that is preventing us from competing on equal terms with countries like New Zealand. “It is important to have game time where you can put into practice what you have learned in training.”

Mynhardt said the North Harbour League was very competitive and it had provided her with invaluable experience at a high level. “I also sometimes trained with the Magic team, which is one of the franchises in the Australian-New Zealand (ANZ) league. The ANZ is probably the best netball league in the world, and I really benefited from being involved in Magic’s training sessions.”

She said the netball community in New Zealand had a very high opinion of South African players. “They think we have some very talented players, and that is one of the reasons why they keep inviting South Africans to go and play there,” she said. “What we need is a proper league that will provide us with more time on court.”

Mynhardt was confident about South Africa’s chances in Jamaica, even though the Sunshine Girls trounced the SPAR Proteas by 74 goals to 45 at the World Championships in Singapore last year. “We know what’s expected of us,” she said. “We have watched that match over and over, and we know what mistakes we made. We have three matches, and we can improve with every match. But one thing I know is that we are all going there to win.”


FOUR PROTEAS IN UNIVERSITY NETBALL TEAM

Cape Town, South Africa - Four members of the SPAR national netball squad have been included in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) team for the inaugural World University Netball Championships (WUNC) to be played in Cape Town in July.

Bongiwe Msomi.jpg – SPAR Protea player Bongiwe Msomi in action at the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore.
Picture credit: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Vanes-Mari du Toit.jpg – Protea player Vanes-Marie du Toit in action at last year’s SPAR National Netball Championships, held in Cape Town.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


They are Bongiwe Msomi of the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Maryke Holtzhausen of Free State University (Kovsies), and two Pretoria University (Tuks) players, Vanes-Mari du Toit and Melissa Myburgh.

Kovsies players dominate the team, with five players coming from the Free State. Tuks and North West University-Potchefstroom (NWU-Puk) have two each, while DUT, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have one representative each.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst said she was very happy with the team selection. “I think we have chosen 12 brilliant players,” she said. “I am feeling very positive, because they will work well together, and be a great team that will go for gold.” She said the biggest challenge was that the tournament was the first of its kind, and little was known about the other teams. “We have to approach this like the world championships, but we really don’t know what to expect.”

Badenhorst said she was thrilled to have been appointed to coach the USSA team. “It is a privilege, and is a step forward in my coaching career,” she said. “I will be coaching the Under21 team at the World Under21 Championships in Wales next year, and I will learn a lot from coaching at this tournament.”

SPAR Protea player Vanes-Mari du Toit said that university netball was the foundation of top-level netball in South Africa. “As students, we have the opportunity to train and to experience internal competition among the universities,” she said. “The universities are very competitive, so being selected as one of the best players is a great honour. “I’m very excited about the tournament, and I think it’s a great advantage that most of us have played together before and know each other very well.

“I think the biggest challenge will be facing players we’ve never seen before. Also, South Africa is hosting the first ever (WUNC) tournament, so we really have to step up and set the bar high for university netball. If we can do well, it will show the foundations of netball in South Africa are healthy. “I’m also very excited that all the players are of a similar age. I think it’s going to be fun.”

The WUNC, involving a number of international countries, will be played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from July 2 to 7.


TOP TEAM SELECTED TO TAKE ON THE SUNSHINE GIRLS

Johannesburg, South Africa – President Netball South Africa Mimi Mthethwa announced on Sunday 13 May 2012 that a top SPAR Protea team has been selected to take on the Sunshine Girls in Jamaica in June. The announcement was made at the Garden Court in Hatfield, Pretoria yesterday.

From left to right: (Back row) Zukelwa Cwaba; Nosiphiwo Goda (Non travelling); Maryka Holtzhausen; Blanche de la Guerre(NSA Vice-President); Erin Burger; Chrisna Bootha; Zanela Mdodana (Vice-Captain); Vanes-Mari du Toit; Bongiwe Msomi; Annemarie Frost (New Cap); Melissa Myburg (Non Travelling); Waldo Van Heerden.
(Middle row) Precious Mthembu; Nokuthula Qegu; Mampho Tsotetsi (New Cap); Anneret Viljoen (New Cap).
(Front row) Christine Van der Merwe (Medical Practitioner); Claudine Claassen (Team Manager); Elize Kotze (Coach); Mimi Mthethwa (NSA President); Christine du Preez (Director Selectors).
(Absent) Amanda Mynhardt (Captain).
Picture Credit: Lefty Shivambu/ Gallo Images


EXPERIENCED TEAM FOR JAMAICA

Pretoria, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) on Sunday announced an experienced SPAR South African team for a three-Test series in Jamaica next month.

“We need to have an experienced team to play against a team like Jamaica,” explained Coach Elize Kotze. “Three of our very experienced players – Adele Niemand, Claudia Basson and Karla Mostert – were not available for selection, because of work commitments and injury, but this has given us the opportunity to bring in some younger players.”

The three newcomers to the established squad are Annemarie Frost, Anaret Viljoen and Mampho Tsotetsi. Frost has represented South Africa at the All-Africa Games, while Viljoen and Tsotetsi have played for South Africa Under21.

The team was announced after a weekend training camp, where the national training squad was put through its paces. “I was very pleased with their level of fitness,” said Kotze. “It showed their commitment and their understanding that if they want to succeed, they have to keep training. “It would be naïve to think that we can just go to Jamaica and beat them.

Jamaica are ranked fourth in the world, and to play them at home is going to be tough. “But the players believe we can do it. “We have spent time watching the video of our match against them at the World Championships in Singapore last year, where they beat us 74-45, and we have studied every member of the team. “I think we know more about the Jamaican players than they know about us,” said Kotze.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said Captain Amanda Mynhardt would remain Captain, even though she had not been at the camp. “Amanda is playing in New Zealand at the moment, gaining valuable experience and she is too valuable as a player and as a Captain for us not to take her to Jamaica,” said Mthethwa. “We are also very happy to welcome back our former Vice-Captain, Precious Mthembu, who will play an important part in the team,” she said.

One of the stars of the team is centre court player Erin Burger, who was named Player of the Tournament at the World Championships in Singapore last year.

SPAR national team: Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Zanele Mdodana (Vice-Captain), Chrisna Bootha, Anaret Viljoen, Annemarie Frost, Bongiwe Msomi, Erin Burger, Mampho Tsotetsi, Maryka Holtzhausen, Nokuthula Qegu, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Precious Mthembu.
Non-travelling reserves: Melissa Myburgh, Zukelwa Cwaba.


PROTEAS PREPARE FOR NETBALL SERIES IN JAMAICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is much at stake for members of the SPAR national netball training squad when they attend a training camp at the TUKS Sports Centre in Pretoria this weekend. At the end of the camp, a team will be selected to travel to Jamaica in June for a three-Test series.

SPAR Proteas captain leaps in defence against Jamaican Sunshine Girls at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.
Picture by: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images


The Jamaica series is one of a number of international engagements for the Proteas this year, and is part of Netball South Africa’s (NSA) plan to provide the national team with as much international competition as possible leading up to the next major international tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Jamaica are currently ranked fourth, and should provide stiff opposition for the fifth-ranked South African team. The Jamaican players are generally very tall and their style of play very physical. “They have a height advantage in the goal circle at both ends, with exceptionally tall goalshooters and defenders. It is easier to counter taller defence, with speed and accuracy, but it is very hard to out-jump a very tall goalshooter,” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze.

“Centre court play will be very important. We can’t just rely on turnover balls. “But I have great faith in players like Amanda Mynhardt and Vanes-Mari du Toit, who are both very experienced, to deal with the Jamaican attack.”

Mynhardt is currently playing in New Zealand, but Kotze said she was returning to South Africa until after the national championships in August. “She is gaining great experience in New Zealand, playing at the top level, week in and week out, but I would not like to be without her either as a captain or as a player.”

Kotze said it was important to develop a core of experienced players. “Developing a winning side is not a short-term exercise – it takes time,” she said. “I’m very happy that the only regular member of the team who will not be available is Claudia Basson, who has work commitments. We will miss her experience and her ability as a goalshooter, but this will open up opportunities for younger players to test themselves against very tough opposition.”

In October, South Africa will be taking part in a Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand, against the three top-ranked teams – Australia, New Zealand and England, and the series against Jamaica will go a long way to prepare the SPAR Proteas to compete against the very best.


THREE WESTERN CAPE UMPIRES FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - Three South African umpires – Marielouw van der Merwe, Anso Kemp and Rose Wolmarans – have been selected to officiate at the inaugural World University Netball Championships in Cape Town in July. With the championships being held in the Mother City, it is only fitting that the three South Africans are all from the Western Cape.

Two other umpires from Africa — Abednico Chetelo of Botswana and Chakatze Lephole of Lesotho – have also been invited to join the panel.

“They are all very qualified,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Umpires, Dr Hannette Brewer. “The three South Africans are all A-grade umpires, which is the highest qualification they can achieve in this country, before trying for international umpiring qualifications.” Brewer said it was an honour that five of the panel came from Africa.

“Thirteen umpires were invited by IFNA (International Federation of Netball Associations), so it is very important that five of them should come from our continent,” she said. “Umpiring at a top-level international tournament will help the five Africans gain the experience they need to be invited to apply for the International Umpires Award. Marielouw and Rose were umpires at the Under 21 World Championships in the Cook Islands, and Marielouw has also umpired in the English League. She has a very bright future as an umpire,” said Brewer.

Twelve countries will take part in the World University Championships, which will be played at Cape Town’s Good Hope Centre from 2-7 July 2012.


CAPE TOWN TO HOST INAUGURAL WORLD STUDENT NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa has been chosen to host the first ever World University Netball Championships (WUNC), to be held at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from July 2 to 7.

“This is a great honour for South Africa and will do much to develop the sport in this country,” said FISU Technical Chair: Netball, Helene Botha. “It will also enhance South Africa’s image as a preferred host of international sports events.”

The tournament will be held under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the biggest multi-code sports organisation after the International Olympic Committee. Twelve countries will take part, although all 163 FISU affiliated countries have been invited to enter. The final 12 will be decided by the International Federation of Netball Associations, IFNA.

The 12 teams will be divided into three pools, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying for the Elite Six. The cross-pool matches and quarter-finals will be played on one day, with the semifinals and final being played the next day. Countries tipped to be in the final group are Great Britain (ranked 3rd in the IFNA world netball rankings); Jamaica (ranked 4th); South Africa (ranked 6th); Fiji (ranked 7th); Barbados (ranked 9th); Northern Ireland (ranked 12th); Botswana (ranked 16th); Malaysia (ranked 22nd); Namibia (ranked 24th); USA; Zimbabwe; and Uganda.

The Good Hope Centre has been selected as the venue because it can accommodate two wooden court floors next to each other. It also has all the facilities required by IFNA and FISU, and has ample seating for spectators. The WUNC will be preceded by the University Sport South Africa (USSA) netball championships.

Andile Majeke President of USSA says that the WUNC is a great opportunity to show the world what South Africa is made of; “As the first National University Sport Federation to host this championship, we are indeed proud and excited to be the stage on which history will be written. Once again this is evidence that Africa can do all that can be done by any other continent. With all the support from local organisations, the Confederation of University and College Sports Associations (CUCSA) and the Federation of African University Sports (FASU), the world will have an experience of a life time.”

“Student netball is the backbone of South Africa’s provincial and national teams,” said Botha. “Netball is the most popular woman’s sport in South Africa – and globally – and hosting a tournament of this standard in South Africa will enable student players to experience international netball in their own backyard. Even those who are not playing will benefit from being involved in the organisation of the tournament.

“The tournament will also provide the community of Cape Town and the surrounding areas to experience netball at a very high level.”

Botha said coaches and teams from the 12 participating countries would also conduct coaching clinics in and around Cape Town, as part of USSA’s goal of developing sport at grassroots level.


KOTZE APPOINTED NATIONAL COACH UNTIL JUNE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Tuesday that Elize Kotze would coach the SPAR National Netball Team until after the scheduled tour to Jamaica in June.

Head coach Elize Kotze and Captain Amanda Mynhardt at a press conference before their departure for the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

The announcement was made after a weekend training camp at which aspirant coaches worked with the national squad, and were put through their paces. Vice President NSA Blanche de la Guerre, said that this approach to appointing a coach was a first for Netball South Africa “We decided to take on a very transparent and widespread approach. Coaches were assessed on a number of levels including previous successes, coaching skills, and psychological testing. The panel consisted of five members, two external and three previous coaches of the South African national team.”

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said the panel which evaluated the coaches had recommended Kotze as the most suitable. “However, Elize has a number of conditions that we are unable to meet at this stage, so we decided that we would appoint her to take the team to Jamaica, and then we would either advertise again for a national coach, or else use a headhunter,” said Mthethwa. She said Kotze’s conditions were not unreasonable, but NSA was unable to meet them at this stage. “But we are currently engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Sport in an attempt to improve conditions for netball,” she said. “We hope the outcome of the talks will be that we might be able to put netball on a more professional footing in future.”

Kotze was a member of a coaching panel appointed early last year, after the resignation of the previous coach, Carin Strauss. Kotze was named head coach for the World Championships in Singapore last July. South Africa finished fifth in the tournament after beating their Africa nemesis, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth and sixth place.

Kotze, who was a member of the South African team that won the silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, said she was keen to continue working with the team so that they could build on what had been achieved at the World Championships and in their tour to Australia last year. “We got to number five in the world at the world championships, and the logical next step is to aim for number four,” said Kotze.
“I sincerely believe we have the players, the talent and the potential to achieve this. But the top four countries – Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica –are professionals, and it is very difficult for an amateur team to compete on equal terms with them.”

Kotze said one of the problems facing the team was a lack of continuity. “We had the team for six months ahead of the World Championships, and we knew all the time what was happening with every single member of the squad. But they have to work or go back to their studies, and that continuity is lost.”


SISTERS DOING IT FOR EACH OTHER

South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) and the SPAR South African netball team have sent their hockey counterparts a message of support and good luck for their remaining matches in the Olympic Games qualifying tournament in New Delhi, India.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa congratulated the Investec women’s hockey team on their sterling performance so far in the competition.

South Africa were unbeaten in the tournament ahead of their match against India on Wednesday afternoon. At stake in the final on Saturday afternoon is a place in the Olympic Games in London later this year.

“The Olympics is the ultimate test for any sportsman, sportswoman or sporting team and although you still have some work to do in India to gain a place in London, the aim and
objective of qualifying for London is very possible and reachable,” said Mthethwa.

“Our Netball family wish you well in your last few days in India. We are extremely proud of you and your achievements to date. Your sponsors and the South African Hockey Association must be delighted at your efforts.”

“Keep doing yourselves and South Africa proud and be well assured that you have the full support of Netball South Africa, the SPAR Proteas and the entire South African Netball family whom we represent. We are behind you all the way,” said Mthethwa.


PROTEAS NETBALL CAPTAIN TO GAIN EXPERIENCE IN NEW ZEALAND

South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) says it will not stand in the way of the captain of the SPAR National Netball team, Amanda Mynhardt, if she wishes to go to New Zealand to gain experience, as long as she follows the correct procedures.

Twenty-six-year-old Mynhardt confirmed on Tuesday that she planned to travel to New Zealand, a netball powerhouse, at the end of February. However, the defender said this did not mean she was turning her back on South Africa and the Proteas. “I just want to play more netball and gain experience, and then plough that back into netball in South Africa,” she said.

Mynhardt will be playing for a club suggested by former New Zealand coach Yvonne Willering, and will return to South Africa at the end of July, unless she gets a chance to play in a provincial league, in which case she will return in October. Mynhardt stressed that she would be available to play for South Africa during that time.

Although there are no major tournaments this year, NSA are planning a triangular series, and have also been invited to play a series against Jamaica later this year.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said NSA would not stop Mynhardt from travelling to New Zealand to gain experience, but said the correct procedures had to be followed, particularly if she still wished to play for South Africa. “No players are contracted to NSA, and they therefore have the right to decide on their own future,” she said. “However, there are specific terms of reference to be agreed upon by NSA and a player who wishes to continue to be part of NSA’s programme while playing overseas.”

Mthethwa said NSA had asked Mynhardt to provide them with the necessary documentation, including correspondence from Netball New Zealand and the club she will be playing for, before her departure, so that she could continue to be part of the NSA programme.

Netball New Zealand’s (NNZ) High Performance director said in an email to NSA that Mynhardt would be playing for an amateur club, and would not be under any contract in New Zealand. “Yvonne Willering has told us that during the World Championships in Singapore last year, she was approached by several South African players, including Amanda, seeking to gain experience in New Zealand.” “She advised Amanda that if she came to New Zealand, she would find her a club to play for, and if she was good enough, she could possibly representative netball. Yvonne said she was aware that Amanda’s first priority was to South African netball.”

In the past, several South African netballers have travelled to New Zealand to gain experience. Goal shooter Irene van Dyk, who was part of the South African team that won a silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, has become one of the most famous Silver Ferns of all time, but others, like former Proteas captain Liezel Wium, have returned to South Africa to pass on what they have learned in what is arguably the strongest netball nation in the world.


PROTEASSECRET WEAPON

South Africa - When the SPAR South African netball team play their next international match, they will be armed with a special secret weapon – Dr. Sherylle Calder, the world-renowned specialist in visual performance skills and their effect on improved sporting performance.

Dr. Sherylle Calder with SPAR Proteas and Gauteng North coach Elize Kotze (left) and Erin Burger (right), at the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships in Belleville Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


SPAR has joined forces with Netball South Africa and Dr. Sherylle Calder to work with the Proteas as they prepare for this year’s international programme. Mike Prentice, Group Marketing Executive, says that SPAR is very pleased to have Dr. Calder on board; “The Proteas proved that they have what it takes to compete with the top teams in the world at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year. Dr. Calder’s pedigree speaks for itself and we believe it can give the Proteas the extra edge that they need.”

Calder, a former Protea hockey player, has worked with numerous sports teams around the world, and is the only person to have won back to back Rugby World Cup medals, having worked with the victorious England team in 2003 and the Springboks in 2007.

It was while she was playing hockey at provincial and international level that Calder first realised the value of enhanced visual and perceptual skills to performance on the field. She developed a unique visual skills development programme called EyeGym to enhance the capacity of players to access performance-relevant information during play.

Former Springbok captain John Smit – the man at the helm when South Africa won the William Webb-Ellis Trophy in Paris in 2007 – had no doubts about the impact of Calder’s programme. He said that while Calder was working with the Springboks, his lineout throw-ins were 100 per cent accurate.

Other teams Calder has worked with include the South African, Pakistan and Australian cricket teams (she worked with the Australian team when they won their second consecutive World Cup in 2003), the South African women’s hockey team, various football and rugby teams around the world, and two leading South African golfers, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

Calder said she was excited at the prospect of working with the netball team. “The science of EyeGym will play a major role in enhancing the players’ ability and add an edge to their performance,” she said. “This will carry over into helping them to make quicker and more effective decisions under pressure, and this will fast-track the players’ performance to a new level.”

Proteas’ coach Elize Kotze welcomed the news, saying it was a move that would put the Proteas on a more professional footing. “Vision is a huge factor in the game, and it will be fantastic to work with one of the world’s best in this field,” she said.

“If we want to move into the top four in the world, instead of being content to remain number five, we need to progress and we need to be more specific about what we are trying to do. With the kind of training Dr. Calder will provide, we can move onto another level.”
“We have fantastic players, and with scientific help, I have no doubt that we can achieve our goal of challenging the top four teams in the world.”


SOUTH AFRICA MOVE UP A PLACE AT FASTNET TOURNAMENT

Head coach of the SPAR South African netball team, Elize Kotze, said on Monday she was happy with the Proteas’ performance at the Fastnet netball tournament in Liverpool over the weekend, although much improvement was still needed.

South Africa finished fifth in the tournament, which involved the world’s top six netball countries.

Fastnet is a shortened version of netball – equivalent to Twenty20 cricket. Quarters are only six minutes long, shooters can score from inside or outside the goal circle, with goals scored from outside earning double points, and rolling substitutions are allowed throughout the match. Each team can also select one quarter as a power play, when all goals scored are doubled.

“We are happy that we moved up a position in the Fastnet tournament, after finishing sixth last year,” said Kotze. “We were generally on a par with the other teams until the third quarter, when we began to flag.”

Kotze said South Africa had not taken full advantage of the power plays “Instead of letting the ball go, we protected it, and then we didn’t score enough goals to earn the double points, whereas the other teams used the power plays to increase their scores, and that led to the difference in the scores. “However, the other teams knew they could not afford not to take us seriously,” she added. “We led England by two goals at one stage, and some of our players were outstanding. What we need, though, is a stronger bench, with 12 players that can keep up with one another. Some of our better players were over-played because we could not afford to rest them.”

Erin Burger, who was Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore earlier this year, was twice named Player of the Match, and Kotze said that goalshooter Chrisna Bootha had been the talk of the tournament. “She had a fantastic tournament and has made her mark at international level,” said Kotze. “Top players from the other teams came up to her and commended her. Amanda (Mynhardt) once again showed her strength both as captain and player.

I am immensely proud of the team. If we had managed our power plays better, we would have had better scores. “However, there has been positive growth from last year.” During the tournament, South Africa beat Fiji and lost to New Zealand, Jamaica, England and Australia. In the position play-offs, South Africa beat Fiji 25-19 to claim fifth place.


MALAWI QUEENS REIGN SUPREME

Perth, Australia – After defeating the Malawi Queens at the World Netball Championships in July, the SPAR Proteas walked on court confident that they could defeat their African nemesis. However, it was the Malawians that were the better team today (Sunday), as the Proteas made some fatal errors, often losing the ball to their opponents, which proved to be costly.

SPAR Proteas Zukelwa Cwaba in action against the Malawi Queens during the curtain raiser match for the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns at the Holden Series, on Sunday 23 October.
Pictures credit: Netball Australia / David Callow

South Africa was the first to score at the start of the match, but lost their lead early on, and never regained it. Despite it being a tight first quarter, Malawi was quick to overtake and was leading the Proteas 6/2 by the eleven minute mark. By the end of the first quarter Malawi lead South Africa by 15 goals to 8.

SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze made a number of changes to the team for the second quarter. Replacing the wing defence position of Thuli Qegu with Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana, and changing the defence and attack to allow for Anja Opperman and Zukelwa Cwaba to have some court time, didn’t make the difference that the team so desperately needed. “We knew that Malawi was running away with us” said Mdodana after the match. “It seemed surreal, we knew we needed to pick it up, but just couldn’t get it right.” The Queens led at half time by 32/16.

The SPAR Proteas started to show a bit more vigor in the third quarter and managed to score 13 goals to Malawi’s 15, but it still wasn’t enough. The Malawian team was quicker, and more determined. “We need to take a serious look at player commitment” said Proteas coach Elize Kotze. “A positive aspect of this match, was that it enabled team management to see who would, and who wouldn’t make it as an international player. We are not going to carry players anymore.”

Towards the end of the match, South Africa lost momentum and motivation, and ended with a loss of 37/61 to the Malawi Queens. “We had a very young team on court today” said Kotze post-match, “The fact that three of our core players from World Cup were missing really showed.” Leigh-Ann Zackey, who has recently retired from netball, Claudia Basson and Maryka Holzthausen were not available, and the lack of maturity and expertise on court was evident.

“It will always be difficult for me to lose a game” said Kotze, “as there is always a lot at stake.” “We now know that we need to make some serious changes if we are going to get back into the top four countries in the world.”

The Proteas will be returning to South Africa on the morning of Wednesday 26 October. Their next international tournament will be the Fast Net, taking place in Liverpool from the 7th-9th November 2011.


ELECTIONS ARE NOT OUR PRIMARY FOCUS, SAYS MTHETHWA

Perth, Western Australia - Although the Netball South Africa (NSA) Executive Committee elections take place on Saturday, NSA President Mimi Mthethwa and Vice President Blanche de la Guerre are focusing their attention elsewhere.

Mthethwa and De la Guerre are in Perth to learn as much as they can from the very successful Western Australian Netball Union about growing netball as a sport, with a view to it becoming a professional sporting code along the lines of cricket, rugby and soccer. “Elections aren’t something we worry about,” said Mthethwa. “We need to concentrate on what is important and that is why we are in Perth this week.”

They have had meetings with various officials who have advised them on the way forward. “Being here really shows us the areas in which we are lacking,” said De la Guerre. “If we are going to be a successful netball nation, we need to have a fixed office with a fixed staff contingent, and backing from government.”

They will also meet the chief executive of Netball Australia, Kate Palmer, to discuss various issues, including the welfare of players, before flying home for the special NSA meeting ahead of the elections.
“Everything that we are doing here in Perth is testimony to our passion for netball” Mthethwa said. “I have never believed in campaigning for elections, and I’m not going to start now. If people cannot see what I have done and am doing for netball, then they mustn’t vote for me.”
Mthethwa and De la Guerre are are both being challenged by Nompumelo (Mpumi) Javu of the Eastern Cape and Kgapane Rrabotho of Gauteng Central. There are five candidates for the influential position of Director of Selection, currently held by Javu. The other candidates are Rrabotho, Sandra Khati, Christine du Preez and former national coach Louise du Plessis.
The two senior executives will miss the Test between the SPAR South African team and Malawi, which is to be played as a curtain-raiser before an encounter between world champions Australia and silver medalists New Zealand.


PROTEAS PACKED FOR PERTH

Johannesburg, South Africa - The selectors have chosen a strong SPAR National Netball Team to travel to Perth later this month for a one-off Test against Malawi on October 23.

While some members of the squad that finished fifth at the World Championships in Singapore in July were not available for selection there is plenty of experience in the squad. Anja Opperman and Karla Mostert are new to the squad, while Adele Niemand, who played in the 2007 World Championships, makes a welcome return. All members of the squad are part of the training squad selected after the SPAR National Championships in Cape Town in August.

Niemand, Mostert and Opperman replace Claudia Basson, Maryke Holtzhausen and Leigh-Ann Zackey. Basson and Holtzhausen were not available because of work and exam commitments, while Zackey has retired from international netball.

One of the strengths of the South African team is the presence of centre court player Erin Burger, who was named Player of the Tournament at the World Championships. “I’m very excited to have Adele back in the team, although I am very sad that Leigh-Ann has retired. Leigh-Ann has a wonderful understanding of international netball. But having Adele in the team means that we can keep Amanda (Mynhardt) as goalkeeper, where she is at her best.”

“This match is of extreme importance to the Proteas,” said coach Elize Kotze. “We need to build on what we achieved in Singapore. “What is also very exciting is that New Zealand have asked to play a training match against us. We need to keep playing the top sides if we are going to learn how to play at the highest level. In the World Championships, we won the first quarter against New Zealand. We need to build on that – hold them for two quarters, and then eventually we’ll be able to beat them again.” South Africa beat New Zealand in the semi-finals of the World Championships in 1995, when they finished runners-up after losing to Australia in the final.

Kotze said that former Australian coach Norma Plummer, regarded as one of the best in the world, had offered to spend some time with the South African team at the Australian Sports Institute. “That is a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Kotze. “I also look forward to learning from her, because I am very much a rookie in international netball.”

The Proteas will be taking part in a festival of netball and hockey to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting taking place in the Western Australian city. There will be a hockey tournament involving Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Malaysia, and two international netball matches. South Africa, ranked fifth in the world, will take on sixth-ranked Malawi as a curtain-raiser to the Test between world champions Australia and world number one New Zealand.

Matches between South Africa and Malawi are always hotly contested. Malawi was for some time South Africa’s nemesis, but the SPAR Proteas bounced back at the World Championships with a hard-fought 52-50 victory over their fellow Africans. The Proteas will be determined to continue that trend and justify their ranking as the number one team in Africa.

The match between Australia and New Zealand should also be a thriller. Australia and New Zealand were neck and neck throughout the World Championship final. Australia snatched victory in the last seconds of extra time, and the Silver Ferns, still smarting from that loss, are likely to go hard at the home side.

SPAR National Netball Team: Amanda Mynhardt (capt), Zanele Mdodana (vice-capt), Chrisna Bootha, Erin Burger, Zukelwa Cwaba, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tsakane Mbewe, Karla Mostert, Bongiwe Msomi, Adele Niemand, Anja Opperman, Nokuthula Qegu.


KNIVES OUT FOR NSA ELECTIONS

South Africa - Campaigning for the Netball South Africa (NSA) executive committee elections on October 22 is heating up, with an intense battle under way for the three strategic positions of President, Vice President and Director of Selection.

Incumbent president Mimi Mthethwa and vice president Blanche de la Guerre are both being challenged by current Director of Selection Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Javu of the Eastern Cape, and Kgapane Rrabotho vice president of Gauteng Central. There are five candidates for the influential position of Director of Selection. The other candidates are current director Javu, Rrabotho, Sandra Khati, Christine du Preez and former national coach Louise du Plessis.

Mthethwa was philosophical about the campaigning that is under way. “If people think I have done a good job for netball, I believe they will vote for me,” she said. “But it is a democratic organisation, and if I am voted out, so be it.”

Mthethwa said she was standing for re-election because a number of regions have approached her to stand for president again and there are several projects that she would like to conclude within netball before retiring from NSA. “The most important of these is our efforts to make netball a professional sport in South Africa,” said Mthethwa. “It has long been one of our dreams to put netball on a par with sports like soccer, rugby and cricket. We took an important step towards that with the launch of the Netball Grand Series (NGS) earlier this year. I believe that if we are able to grow that the way we want to in the next couple of years, we will be making good progress towards achieving our goal,” she said.

“The Proteas put on a very good performance at the world championships in Singapore earlier this year, and showed that netball should be taken seriously by government and by sponsors.”

Two candidates, Anneline Lewis of Gauteng West and Dude Msane of Gauteng Vaal, are running for Director of Coaching, where there is a vacancy after the retirement of Bennie Saayman, while the Director of Umpires, Dr Hannette Brewer, is being challenged by Joey Schoeman who was the NSG Competition Referee this year. Mami Diale, the current Director Demarcation is opposed by Claudine Claassen Gauteng North Vice President.

Ends