Netball head promises shakeup

2011-10-29 20:04

Netball SA (NSA) president Mimi Mthethwa’s aim is to get rid of the “under-achiever” tag pinned on the national team, the Proteas. Last week she was elected to a fourth term.

Top on her list is conquering Africa, especially Malawi, who have been the Proteas’ nemesis for a long while now. And one thing that doesn’t sit well with Mthethwa is the team’s recent poor record.

A week ago, South Africa lost 61-37 to Malawi in an international friendly played in Perth, Australia.

The defeat came less than three months after the Proteas beat Malawi at the Netball World Championships in Singapore.

The win propelled the team to fifth spot in world rankings, in the process relegating their fellow Africans to sixth position.

But Mthethwa wants her team to be consistent.

“We have learnt from our flaws and we are moving forward as we want to improve our ranking. I am willing to roll up my sleeves and take the game to the next level.”

She said her focus was to make the South African netball league attractive and financially viable.

“I believe that we have to make the sport more attractive for potential sponsors and the fans,” she said, adding that her recent trip to Australia was an eye-opener.

“Australian netball is fully supported by the government. Here (at home) we struggle to lure players because there is no remuneration. If we want to be the best in the world we have to professionalise the sport but we can only do that with adequate financial support.

“We want to adopt some of the Australian programmes and implement them here.”

Mthethwa added that she hoped to increase participation in the sport at primary and secondary schools across the country and also to introduce a development plan for schools and clubs.

“Right now there is no synergy between schools and the federation,” she explained, “We are planning to build a relationship with the depart-ment of education and establish school netball leagues throughout the country,” she said.

Mthethwa recently came under fire for failing to improve the standard of netball.

One of the incidents that led to her being criticised was when NSA failed to prepare a team for participation in the All Africa Games in Maputo.

Many believe that since the departure of Ntambi Ravele, former NSA president, local netball has failed to shine.

Mthethwa has also been blamed for failing to extend the R5?million broadcast deal with the SABC that expired two years ago.

Called for comment, she said: “People have been criticising us but they forget that we do not have enough funds to sustain the sport.”

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