This year has been a fruitful year for netball in South Africa. The number of competitions that have taken place will ensure that South Africa will have a number of netball stars that will take South African netball to greater heights in the future.
The Spar Proteas just came back from the Sanzea Quad Series, where, although they lost all their matches, they showed major improvement in their matches against Australia, New Zealand and England. The score lines of these matches are an indication that regular competition can help teams gel for greater and improved results.
The incredible performance that was displayed by the Spar Baby Proteas at the three-match Test series against Wales in Durban and the subsequent World Netball Youth Championship qualifiers in Botswana, promises a fiercely competitive future national senior team. It was an exceptional decision for Netball South Africa to have Dorette Badenhorst, Jenny Van Dyk and Dumisani Chauke to work together in the Baby Proteas team.
Their individual experiences came together well in their different expertise to get the team do well in the two competitions. Their brilliant combination also saw the USSA netball team come victorious at the World University Netball Championship. Beating Jamaica at that stage must have been a confidence booster for South Africa. As the Diamond Challenge draws closer, it will be exciting to see if the Proteas will hand the Sunshine Girls a beating like the USSA team did. Or it might be a chance for Jamaica to settle the score.
Varsity Netball has introduced us to new faces in the first round of the new season. It should be exciting to see if they become stars for their different campuses. But most importantly, if they will put in the kind of performances that will help their respective teams to get to the final of the competition or even walk away with the title.
NWU-Pukke will be the team that all sides will want to beat, and dethrone. Having five players in the USSA team that won the championship gives Pukke the upper hand. UP-Tuks will be the most determined to take the title for the first time, with their Proteas back for the second round, Van Dyk will be strengthening her side for the rest of the tournament.
Like last season, both Maties and Madibaz shouldn’t be underestimated. The Western Cape team was the surprise package last season and they will be looking to continue where they left off.
Support for netball in the country is growing, having a number of competitions televised is attracting more talent and sponsors, and this is great for our country. Don’t forget to Show Your Colours when you hit the courts, and stay onside.
By Busisiwe Mokwena, Daily Sun and Sunday Sun sports reporter