Netball league delayed by four months

2013-04-14 14:00

The much-awaited Netball Premier League (NPL) will not start this month, as initially planned.

Netball SA (NSA) president Mimi Mthethwa broke the news this week.

She said she was “not in a position to disclose too much information” about what had resulted in the sudden postponement, nor could she give an exact revised date.

She said: “We are meeting with the department of sport on Tuesday to fine-tune everything and only after that will we be able to provide concrete details.”

On the other side, the director of Accelerate Sport, the agency championing the planning and sponsorship-hunting for the NPL, Gary Grant, said there have been some major changes from the initial plan.

The league, he said, will now be some kind of “short competition, at least for 2013” as the bigger plan was floored by lack of funding.

Several meetings with the department of sport proved fruitless, he said.

“Refusal of potential financial backers to come on board has been our headache, but the struggle continues. The league will, unfortunately, not be what was initially promised and may start as late as August,” said a demoralised Grant.

Meanwhile, NSA this week launched a nationwide tour to unify netball coaching in the country.

Mthethwa told City Press the tour was scheduled to make stops in all nine provinces.

“Most of our coaches have different ways of coaching and that is not helping the national team,” she said.

“We need a unified coaching philosophy to make it easier for players who get selected to the national team to gel nicely and have a common understanding of what is expected.”

The so-called NSA Spar Proteas Support Road Trip is spearheaded by national team coach Elize Kotzé, who has been given the mandate to impart her expertise to grassroots coaches.

The ultimate goal is to introduce a high level of coaching as the standard for netball players of all ages, in keeping with how international competitors operate.

According to Mthethwa, previously unknown and disadvantaged players will benefit most from the initiative.

“It’s about development of players, and the project will help athletes from the most rural of our districts to shine and be recognised.”

An optimistic Mthethwa added that “through a unified coaching attitude, all our players will develop a common way of playing, which will advance our mission to become a dominant force at a global level”.

Christine du Preez, the director of selections who is also part of the NSA delegation in the trip, echoed Mthethwa’s sentiments, describing the initiative as “cutting-edge” for South Africa’s most popular female sport.

Du Preez agreed that the response from many coaches has been positive.

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