Netball South Africa president Cecilia Molokwane says they’re happy with the progress of the overseas-based Proteas as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup in Cape Town.
Johannesburg – Head coach Norma Plummer and Netball South Africa (NSA) are keeping a close eye on their contracted senior national players as the build-up to the World Cup later this year intensifies, president of the organisation, Cecilia Molokwane, revealed Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch of the new Telkom Netball League (TNL) season, Molokwane explained that there was a degree of apprehension regarding a handful of Proteas who are currently playing abroad in England and Australia with 105 days to go to the start of the showpiece event in Cape Town.
That includes high-calibre players like Lenize Potgieter, Ine-Mari Venter, Shadine van der Merwe, Karla Pretorius, Monique Reyneke-Meyer and Zanele Vimbela. Despite that angst, Molokwane also revealed that she is pleased that the Proteas are representing the nation in the English Super League and Australian Super Netball championships.
“We are watching them all the time,” Molokwane admitted.
“We talk to the coaches, and we talk to the relevant people that are taking care of them because the most important thing is – most of our players – when they are overseas they come home injured. That is why we are tracking them …”
“It is very good for them,” she added, “because they are playing against the people that they will be facing at the World Cup.
“They are studying them well and they know what is expected of them. They will be prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally.”
Molokwane was unanimous in who was responsible for the Proteas’ continued preparations abroad, which will leave them in good stead come July 28 when the tournament starts.
“Norma is one of a kind,” Molokwane said proudly. “When you want a coach to perform, don’t limit them.
“Give them what they want and open up the doors and opportunities. She did that.
“Most of the players that went overseas are due to the influence of Norma saying to these teams and clubs, ‘take these players; we want them there’. She knows competing against the best of the best will make you the best in the world."
Looking towards the World Cup, Molokwane assured that the event was on track from an organisational perspective.
“We are at the point where I can say, I am anxious of when the first centre-pass will be passed but everything that is going on behind the scenes – the preparations of the opening ceremony, the fan parks – that is on point.
“Nothing is lagging behind. I would have said that two years ago but now I am saying: Be at ease, be settled, everything is on point.”
Meanwhile, the TNL had a euphoric launch in Sandton on Wednesday. Not only did Telkom renew their sponsorship of the tournament for a further three years but the league also introduced two new teams in the Free State Sonoblomo and Limpopo Lilies for this year’s iteration.
The Sonoblomo and Lilies will compete in the second division, while the Eastern Cape Aloes’ promotion to the elite first division was also confirmed. Due to the expanded format, the previously relegated KZN Kingdown Stars received a stay of execution and will remain in the first division this campaign.
“The addition of two more teams to the league can only mean one thing,” Molokwane beamed during the launch, “and that is we are doing something right when it comes to growing the sport and making our domestic league more competitive.”
The TNL starts on April 27 at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex in Seshego, Polokwane, before heading to Pretoria in May.