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Organising committee out to make Netball World Cup a memorable event

Khanyisa Chawane of South Africa in action against Malawi during the third test math at the Spar Netball Challenge in Sun City in 2020. (Photo: Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images)

The 2023 Netball World Cup, which is set to be hosted in Cape Town, is just over two years away. The global showpiece is set to begin on 17 July 2023. Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa has announced an organising committee for the event.

With the 2023 Netball World Cup fast approaching, South Africa’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has announced an organising committee which he hopes will ensure that the country hosts another memorable global event.

The minister, speaking from Pretoria, announced that chief operating officer from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) Patience Shikwambana will chair the committee, which is not dissimilar to the local organising that oversaw the successful staging of 2010 Fifa World Cup.

She will be joined on the committee by Cecilia Molokwane (president of Netball SA), Blanche de la Guerre (CEO of Netball SA), Sumayya Khan (Deputy Director-General of Mthethwa’s department), JP Smith (City of Cape Town councillor) and Lyndon Bouah (Chief Director – Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport).

With the nation having successfully hosted international events such as the Rugby World Cup (1995), Cricket World Cup (2003) and Fifa World Cup (2010) tournaments, Mthethwa said it was imperative to maintain the high standard set in the past.

“South Africa’s track record in hosting premier global sporting events is exceptional and it is one we can all be proud of. In continuing in this fashion, we’re aiming to make this one of the most impactful, memorable and inspirational tournaments in Netball World Cup history,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa said a reason the government had approved Netball SA’s proposal to host the event was that it had the potential to inspire young women and empower them.

“It was about taking advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to inspire women and girls through the hosting of one of the largest single sport, women-only events,” stated Mthethwa.

Shikwambane said she and her teammates on the committee were excited about making a mark and ensuring that the upcoming World Cup was the best in the game’s history.

“As a collective, we must be like a netball team; take up our positions and dedicate ourselves to making this event a magnificent and the best-ever World Cup,” said the chairperson.

“We must show the zeal our girls displayed during the last World Cup in Liverpool [England]. As a chair and on behalf of the board, we accept our responsibilities… We will continue engaging with all stakeholders to ensure we don’t lose sight of the task at hand.”

South Africa successfully outbid New Zealand for the event. Speaking in 2019, former International Netball Federation (INF) president Molly Rhone said the organisation was looking forward to having the World Cup come to Africa.  

“It is an exciting time for netball right now. Our sport is growing in popularity at an unprecedented rate throughout the world,” Rhone said.

“There is increasing competitiveness between the top nations. Three teams from Africa feature in the top 10 of the world rankings. We look forward to working with the organising committee to bring INF’s most important event to South Africa in 2023.”

What will be a slight setback, though, is that by the time the World Cup arrives, South Africa is unlikely to have a fully-fledged national professional league which would significantly improve its chances of winning the tournament.

Deputy Director-General Khan acknowledged that it was unlikely that a professional league would be set up before 2023, before saying that the global event would probably fast-track its creation.

“We have to be honest that we will not have a professional league by then,” said Khan.

“But I think we will be a step closer given the fact that many processes have already taken place over the last seven years in establishing a Premier League that will eventually take us towards a professional league.”

On the court, the Proteas are going about their preparations steadily. Recently they bulldozed past their opponents in the Spar Challenge tri-series which included Uganda and neighbouring Namibia.

On the way to clinching the series a week ago, the Proteas won every match they played against their opponents, with coach Dorette Badenhorst using the series to test combinations and also increase the pool of players she will select from in 2023.

“It was valuable to see the depth of talent in the next tier of players. Some of them will play at the World Cup [in 2023] and it is good to see how much talent we have,” Badenhorst said after the series victory. DM

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