The Netball World Cup has come and gone, and now the focus is on the build-up for the next global championship, which South Africa will host in Cape Town in 2023.
The Proteas made the country proud by reaching the semifinals for the first time in 24 years at the recently concluded tournament in England, won by New Zealand.
Will a home ground advantage propel the Proteas to even greater heights next time around?
Team captain Bongiwe Msomi (31) said she was happy about her team’s performance and that she was excited for 2023.
“This year’s World Cup has come to an end and we have four years to prepare for the next one. This is an opportunity to reflect on what we did and how we played at this year’s competition. We will pick up from where we finished and learn from what didn’t work for us this year. For me, it’s about the processes we have to go through, as well as things we need to implement for us to be on par and essentially counteract our opponents,” she said.
Speaking to City Press during the Spar National Netball Championships at the University of Johannesburg this week, Msomi said she was amazed about the pool of talent that netball had.
“We have played against some talented teams. It has been great and this is what these competitions are really about. It is about giving young girls the platform and opportunity to showcase their talent and enjoy the game they love,” said Msomi, who turned out for Umgungundlovu at the tournament.
“It is also about the numbers. Many young girls and women have travelled from their various districts and they have been playing some great netball. That alone is a great sign of what to expect in 2023.”
One such youngster is 20-year-old Rifumo Ngwane from Limpopo, who said: “I only started playing netball last year and there is nothing I would love more than to be part of the Spar Proteas team in 2023. I would be more than honoured to represent South Africa.”
The week-long tournament comprised 81 teams representing all nine provinces.
Netball SA (NSA) event manager Portia Dimu said: “In this year’s tournament, we had 12 national team players who were representing their respective districts and teams.”
NSA president Cecilia Molokwane said South Africa had the potential to do exceptionally well, but stressed that more needed to be done to grow the sport.
“We are a well-prepared nation and we are going to make sure that the team is well prepared for us to be the best that we can be in 2023,” she told City Press.
“However, if we do not have a professional league going on in the country, I cannot guarantee that we will be on the podium receiving a medal in the next World Cup because we will be playing against teams such Australia, New Zealand and England, which all have professional leagues.
“We need the league so that we can have imported and exported players because the more we play against them, the more we will understand them and the way they play the game, and, ultimately, how we can counter them.”
With more than three years available to get their ducks in a row, Molokwane said no stone would be left unturned to physically prepare the team.
“We are going to prepare the team by playing tough opponents as we have before because it is always good to play teams that are above us,” she said.
The Tshwane senior and Under-21 teams claimed titles in the finals of their respective categories yesterday. They beat the Dr Kaunda teams in both deciders played at the University of Wits sports hall.