Sport

NETBALL

Spar Proteas hope to bloom against ‘world’s best’ in quad series

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)

South Africa’s senior squad is gearing up for clashes with the sport’s titans as they get set to take on the top three sides in the world during the Netball Quad Series.

With it being a year for the much-anticipated Commonwealth Games, the Spar Proteas are fine-tuning their preparations for what the team hopes will be a memorable 2022.

This potential success includes the hopes of coach Dorette Badenhorst’s team medalling for the first time at the Games. The team’s current best return was a fourth-place finish just over 20 years ago.

To step up their preparation in this regard, the Proteas are off to London, England to play in the Netball Quad Series. There they will clash with the three nations who are likely to stand in their way as they chase that maiden podium finish at the Games: Australia, New Zealand and hosts England.

The three teams occupy the No 1 to No 3 spots on the global netball rankings, with the Proteas occupying the fifth spot, behind fourth-placed Jamaica. The series is just the type of challenge Badenhorst and her team need to gauge the progress they have made over the last 12 months.

“We are looking forward to a great quad series. It’s been some time since we’ve played against the best in the world and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the team is. We’ve worked hard and I really think we can do well in this series, against the top three in the world” the Proteas coach told journalists in a virtual press conference on Thursday morning.  

Despite not playing as much netball as they would’ve liked during 2021, due to the prevailing global conditions induced by Covid-19, the Proteas’ technical still managed to play enough games to expand the depth of the squad.

Badenhorst and her support staff handed out debuts and tried out different combinations as they toured the United Kingdom and recorded a clean sweep of wins over five matches in October.

They brought that momentum over to the Africa Netball Challenge which took place in Namibia over the month of November. There, despite some more tinkering and experimenting from the coaches, the team retained their title as African champions without losing a single game — a run that stretches back 2019 in the tournament.

This time around though the Proteas coach says they will not be playing around or tinkering too much with the squad.    

“We will work on combinations [in training], but we are not going on court to try different things anymore. We are playing against the best in the world, so we will go on court with the best players and best combinations that are working for us at this stage. It’s not a tournament where you can try different things, except if something is not working,” stated Badenhorst.  

The quad series was last held in 2019 when the Australians were crowned victors.

The 2022 tournament will be played over a period of four days, with the first matches being on 15 January and the third-place playoff, as well as the final playing out on 19 January. DM 

South Africa squad for the Netball Quad Series:

Shooters: Sigrid Burger, Ine-Mari Venter, Lefebre Rademan, Elmere van der Berg, Jessica du Plessis

Midcourt: Khanyisa Chawane, Izette Griesel, Tshinakaho Mdau, Bongiwe Msomi (captain)

Defence: Simone Rabie, Monique Reyneke, Phumza Maweni, Nicola Smith, Zanele Vimbela

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