Sport

NETBALL

Van Dyk appointed as new Proteas coach after ‘rigorous’ process

Van Dyk appointed as new Proteas coach after ‘rigorous’ process
Jenny van Dyk was named as the new head coach of the Proteas netball team on Wednesday. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Jenny van Dyk has been tasked with building on the national team’s displays in recent years. The 42-year-old replaces the respected Norma Plummer in the hot seat of South African netball.

Highly respected domestic netball coach Jenny van Dyk is the new broom entrusted with sweeping South Africa to their first Netball World Cup medal since 1995.

Netball South Africa announced Van Dyk — the coach of the U-21 team before this promotion — as Norma Plummer’s replacement on Wednesday at the Multichoice headquarters in Randburg. Plummer led the Proteas to a sixth-place finish at the 2023 World Cup in Cape Town.

The 42-year-old Van Dyk came out on top during what Netball SA president Cecelia Molokwane said was an extensive process to find the best candidate for the demanding role. Four applicants put their names forward, with Netball SA saying it was after a combination of potential and credentials, among other attributes.

“It was [a rigorous process]. Because we didn’t want to repeat the same mistake [that we made with our previous permanent coach]. They had to go to interviews. They had to apply first. We advertised the post. Which we did not do in 2019. We just appointed a person,” Molokwane told journalists.

“[This time around] it went to a process of shortlisting. After shortlisting, it went to interviews. After the interviews, we had to vet them. Because they are working with players and safeguarding policy in sport is very key,” Molokwane said.

“We made sure that we are not taking the wrong person; who is going to abuse our players. We had to be very rigorous when it came to that. We also made them do presentations, for them to show what they have for us as a country. Where they see themselves taking us and the team in the 2027 World Cup,” she said.

Van Dyk — who cemented her status as one of the best coaches in the country by clinching the Telkom Netball League five times in a row with the Gauteng Jaguars — said she was elated to finally land the role.

“I’m absolutely stoked. I couldn’t have asked for anything better at this stage. It’s something that I’ve been working for, for such a long time. But I also understand that it’s not about me. It’s about the team,” Van Dyk told journalists in Randburg.

The former Tuks coach will be at the helm until the 2027 World Cup although there is an option to extend her contract based on her performance.  

Her primary target is to make sure that the Proteas remain first in Africa. If that foundation remains intact everything else will come naturally, she believes. 

Van Dyk will be assisted by former Proteas skipper Zanele Mdodana.

“She’s got so much fire and passion… To her, it’s important that we get a good position. She used to be Proteas captain. She’s played a lot and she’s bringing that expertise,” said Van Dyk of her partner.

“If we want to dream big, we have to surround ourselves with the right people. I believe that’s one of the best assistant coaches we could have asked for,” the new Proteas coach added.

“For the Proteas to be on the podium, but more importantly, to have a gold medal around their necks… For that honour to be put on my table, to say ‘Zanele we’ve seen you, you are worthy and fit to contribute to that objective’ is unreal for me. But I will grab it with both hands,” said Mdodana on her appointment.

The pair will have an opportunity to showcase their vision for the team in September or October of 2024. In that period the Proteas are set to play a yet-to-be-confirmed opponent in a home series.

For now, it will be about the duo sharing their hopes and dreams with the current Proteas players in the belief that they can meet halfway for the benefit of the country’s netball. DM

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