The return of South Africa’s netball vice-captain Karla Pretorius to the team that will participate in the Vitality Nations Cup in England next year, is a change the management is excited about.
This was according to the team’s assistant coach Dumisani Chauke.
Chauke and Proteas coach Dorette Badenhorst said they could not be more confident in the team selected to represent South Africa in the tournament in January.
“There aren’t many changes. There only one who is back in the team who was not part of the team during the Spar Challenge International Netball Series was our vice-captain, who will be playing in England next year,” Chauke said.
Chauke spoke to City Press following Netball South Africa’s announcement of the Vitality Nations Cup squad.
“Karla was on a break and needed some recovery time. She has however been in training and is ready for 2020,” she said.
The competition, which will take place from January 19 to January 26, will see the Proteas face off against world champions the New Zealand Silver Ferns, the Jamaica Sunshine Girls and hosts England Vitality Roses across four days of action in three cities.
While excited about the team’s prospects at the tournament Badenhorst acknowledged that this competition would not be a walk in the park.
“I am looking forward to an exciting competition between top countries in the world. There are no easy games here just challenges. There is a good vibe in the team and with Karla Pretorius back and Bongi [Msomi] as captain everyone can be excited,” she said.
Having had a memorable 2019, more so after the team’s performance at the World Cup in July, where the women in green and gold made the country proud by reaching the semi-finals of the Netball World Cup for the first time in 24 years, Chauke said the aim “is to get our 2020 off to a great start”.
“We would like nothing more than to get the year off to a positive start. What better way to do that than with an international competition especially with some of the best countries in the world when it comes to netball,” she said.
“We would like to come back with a positive result from England.”
At the SA Sport Awards last month, they walked away with team of the year and federation of the year awards, and the cherry on top was when the federation’s president, Cecilia Molokwane, scooped the sport administrator of the year award.
Speaking about England’s 2-1 victory over the Proteas during the Spar Challenge international netball series at the Bellville Velodrome, in Cape Town earlier this month Molokwane said every game was a learning curve.
“No game will have a negative impact on the team,” she told City Press.
“This should have a positive impact on the players more so as we are building towards 2023 and we hope that every game they play [just like the matches they will play in the Vitality Nations Cup] the team receives more international exposure and ultimately gets to play against the best in the world because that is how we become the best,” she said
“Our aim is to build a strong team that will represent the country well in 2023.”
Molokwane went on to praise Badenhorst and Chauke who were appointed in their respective positions in October.
“We have confidence in the coaches and the team that is assembled for the Vitality Nations Cup. We have seen how well the team did during the Africa Nations Cup and the Spar Challenge Netball Series against England in Cape Town,” she said.
“Selecting this team wasn’t an easy one considering how well all the players played during these two tournaments. The team is very strong and ready to go.”
The federation’s president went on to emphasise the need for a professional league which she said would boost the team’s performance to even greater heights.
“At this point in time we cannot compare ourselves with the teams we will be competing against. We are worlds apart because of how often we play. A national league is imperative to get our girls on par with other teams like Australia, England New Zealand,” he said.
South Africa’s opening match will be against Jamaica, whom they beat in July at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool. The second game will be a battle of the flowers when they take on the Vitality Roses before playing their final group match against New Zealand.
SHOOTERS: Ine-Mari Venter; Lenize Potgieter; Lefebre Rademan and Sigi Burger
CENTRE COURT: Bongi Msomi, Izette Griesel, Rome Dreyer, Khanyisa Chawane
DEFENCE: Phumza Maweni, Shadine van der Merwe, Zanele Vimbela, Karla Pretorius