By MATSHEPO NINA MALATJI
SOUTH Africa recently hosted the inaugural Diamond Netball Challenge in Pretoria which included the hosts and three more countries such as Malawi, Botswana and Zambia. Mzansi’s very own SPAR Proteas went on to win the challenge defeating their arch-enemy Malawi in the final.
The question on everybody’s minds now is, “What’s next for South African netball?”
Netball is one of the biggest sports in South Africa at school level, but it is no secret that it isn’t really taken seriously at a professional level. The challenge now is for the sport to get the support it needs that will elevate it to greater heights.
Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, says that “The plan is for the Netball Diamond Challenge to become an annual event hosted by South Africa, with various invitational teams being invited.” He went on to say that the vision for the SPAR Proteas team is to see them amongst the top three teams in the world and to grow the game at levels all around the country.
The Minister’s vision will soon be put to the test with the South African team competing in the Quad Series against the top three nations in netball, namely, Ä Australia, New Zealand and England Ä in October with three fixtures being played in Australia before a further three are played in New Zealand.
South Africans are very excited about the future of the sport, with our netballing community saying that they have a lot more to offer. The general consensus is that South Africa has proved to be one of the best teams around. One could argue that we are being a little naïve, but one thing’s for certain: things can only get better from here.
Netball South Africa’s president, Mimi Mthethwa was quoted saying: “Now we are ready to take on everyone in Africa as well as the world.”