The Netball Proteas will carry the hopes of a battered South African nation (sportswise, that is) when they embark on a quest to win the netball World Cup that starts in Liverpool, England, on Friday and ends on July 21.
Following disastrous outings by the SA Under-20 national football team, the Proteas and the iffy first-round display by Bafana Bafana, who just squeezed through to the last 16 of Afcon and crashed out on Wednesday evening in the quater-finals, all hopes are now with the netball team, which is coached by Norma Plummer and captained by the gritty Bongiwe Msomi.
There was some uplifting news ahead of the tournament. First, the Netball Proteas retained their fifth place on the world rankings this week, while longtime nemesis Malawi dropped from sixth to ninth, with fellow Africans Uganda moving one place up to sixth.
There were interesting movements in the top four, with Australia retaining the number one spot and Jamaica moving past England into second place, and New Zealand remaining fourth.
The team beat Wales 84-32 in a warm-up test last week, which should be a moral booster, unlike Banyana, who went into their global event without a win in 10 outings.
South Africa really needs something to cheer up about and the Netball Proteas have to shine a ray into our gloomy national scene.
Their ever-improving performances under Plummer at the Quad Series, where they play Australia, England and New Zealand, have given hope that they might just upset the apple cart and bring home the silverware
As we have done with all our national teams when they go out to represent the 57 million-plus South Africans, we wish the Netball Proteas all of the best.
Go get ’em and bring back the trophy!