Sport

HIGH HOOPS

South Africa aim for podium finish at Netball World Cup

South Africa aim for podium finish at Netball World Cup
South African players during the South African national netball team profile shoot in Cape Town on 24 July 2023. (Photo: Misha Jordaan / Gallo Images / Netball World Cup 2023)

The first Netball World Cup in Africa begins on Friday in Cape Town with South Africa taking on Wales.

The 15th edition of the Netball World Cup begins on Friday with a tasty clash between hosts South Africa and Wales. The Proteas’ second match will be against Sri Lanka on Saturday at 6pm, with their final group game against Jamaica, the only team in their group ranked above them, on Sunday at 6pm. 

All 60 matches of the global tournament — running from 28 July until 6 August — will be played at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

South Africa head into the tournament ranked fifth in the world. At the last World Cup, in Liverpool in 2019, the Proteas just missed a podium finish — falling 58-42 to England in the third-place play-off.

Experienced South African goalkeeper Phumza Maweni is a catalyst in defence for the hosts. At 38 years old, she’s been around the netball block and has played in two previous World Cups. 

south africa netball

Netball South Africa CEO Blanche de la Guerre (left) chats to South African Captain Bongiwe Msomi (centre) while the Proteas met Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa on 26 July in Cape Town. (Photo: Shaun Roy / Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

After a fifth-placed finish in Sydney, followed by their more recent fourth-place finish, Maweni said the side aimed to reach the podium this time.

“I think we are pumped. I think it is possible. Everyone talks about it and there is no pressure. We are such a nice group. So, we can just go and enjoy the game and deliver the best netball in our country. So, I think we have a chance… to be honest, I do not see anything to stop us,” she said.

There will be some nerves playing at home as South Africa prepares to host the first Netball World Cup in Africa.

“There is pressure because, obviously, we are at home. We have to do well and there’s a lot of expectation from us as well,” Maweni said.

“We are aware of that and just need to make sure that we display the best netball and skill in front of the crowd.

“We have to play and take it game by game and see what we can do better as a team. I’ve grown up with this team and I can’t wait to connect again.

“It is huge for me to play at home and be part of this group. It is just so amazing. I think it has been good. The setup, behind the scenes, the support, it’s amazing. I think we are so privileged to compete in front of our home fans. So, I think it is the thing that I will never take for granted, playing in South Africa.”

World Cup stages

Sixteen teams are competing for the coveted trophy. The World Cup will consist of three stages, beginning with two group stages and then the knockout and placement stages.

The first stage is this weekend — from Friday to Sunday — while the second preliminary stage will run from 31 July to 3 August where the top three teams from each group will form new groups — Group A and B will form Group F, while Group C and D will form Group G. 

South Africa starts in Group C.

The bottom teams from each group will form Group E and will play against the losers from Group F and Group G in the placement games.

The top two teams in Group F and Group G will compete in the semifinals on 5 August. The final is on 6 August. DM

Netball World Cup pools

Pool A: Australia, Tonga, Zimbabwe, Fiji. 

Pool B: England, Malawi, Scotland, Barbados. 

Pool C: Jamaica, South Africa, Wales, Sri Lanka. 

Pool D: New Zealand, Uganda, Trinidad & Tobago, Singapore.

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