The much-anticipated Diamond Challenge netball tournament is back – after it was canned last year.
The event did not take place due to a lack of financial backing. However, this year, the KwaZulu-Natal department of sport and recreation came to the rescue of Netball SA (NSA) through a partnership that will finance the tournament. The partnership will also assist the NSA with development programmes in KwaZulu-Natal.
The tournament will be hosted at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate on the south coast. This year’s event will be dedicated to victims of the xenophobic violence that broke out earlier this year, with the hope that it will promote peace and reconciliation.
The tournament runs from Tuesday to Friday.
Champions South Africa will join Malawi, Uganda and Zambia.
The Spar Proteas, who have been the undefeated champions for two consecutive years, will be looking to retain their title.
NSA CEO Blanche de la Guerre told City Press fans should expect some fireworks at the Diamond Challenge.
“Uganda is an underdog and might cause a huge surprise. Malawi will play their best netball to show South Africa they deserve their position as fifth in the world. Zambia have trained hard and we are looking forward to seeing the progress they have made,” she said.
Spar Proteas goal defender Karla Mostert said their game against the Queens of Malawi would not be easy, adding that the women in green and gold would stick to their game plan.
“I think Malawi is going to be the hardest team, but we’re also not going to underestimate Uganda. We just need to stick to our game plan and focus on what we do well, using our strong points, then everything will go well,” Mostert said.
Uganda and Zambia, who are considered the weakest links in the tournament, will be fighting tooth and nail to discard those tags.
The competition will provide much-needed practice for the netball World Cup that will be hosted in Sydney, Australia, from August 9-16.
All four teams will be representing Africa at the World Cup for the ultimate prize.