Proteas need a bigger pool of players

2019-10-18 10:47

With South Africa looking forward to hosting the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town – the first to be hosted in Africa in 50 years – the Proteas’ new leaders have resolved that the best way to prepare the national team is to grow the pool of top players who could represent the nation.

These were the sentiments of new head coach Dorette Badenhorst after her appointment on October 1. She emphasised the importance of supporting women in sport, while also realising the talented number of netball players the country has.

“One of the biggest problems is the dearth of [top] players in our country. We don’t have a big pool of top players that we can select from. We need to give players more opportunities to play at higher levels,” she said.

The 49-year-old coach said that identifying and developing players would ensure a bigger pool of players who would compete and push each other for places in the squad for the 2023 World Cup.

“We need more players that we can select from,” Badenhorst said.

She said it was time for netball to cast a wider net in search of talented players. This would ensure that the Proteas reach even greater heights as hosts in 2023, especially after their performance at the recent World Cup in Liverpool, where South Africa finished fourth after reaching the semifinals for the first time in 24 years.

“Over the past four years, we have dealt with issues where it became difficult to find a replacement if a player was injured because of the limited number of top players we have. That should not be the case. We should have a bigger pool and that is my main focus ahead of the World Cup,” Badenhorst said.

She believes the country has talent that needs to be nurtured.

“Each province has a lot of talent and it is really about giving players the opportunity to become the best they can be. It is about nurturing the talent.”

She wants to play an active role in the development of players and form a good relationship with other coaches.

“I think that it is important to work closely with our performance coaches in each province ahead of the World Cup to identify players at different provincial tournaments because not a lot of players can afford to go to the national champs. It is about identifying and bringing these players together and working with them,” Badenhorst said.

“I will personally go to each province and work with performance crews there, but also bring them in for training camps.”

Badenhorst hinted that one or two players from this year’s Varsity netball tournament could be included in the team for the upcoming Africa Cup, which takes place from October 18 to 22.

Netball SA president Cecilia Molokwane said the Proteas needed to play against top teams so they could reach the same first-class level of play.

Read: Home ground advantage: Netball SA looks to 2023

“What has hindered us from reaching the level I know we can is the fact that we do not have a professional league, something Australia, New Zealand and England all have.”

According to the International Netball Federation world rankings, these countries are the top three, respectively.

“Our target as Netball SA is that, by 2021, we [should] have a professional league. It will play a big role in getting us ready for the World Cup,” said Molokwane.

Newly appointed assistant coach Dumisani Chauke agreed with Molokwane.

Netball SA
Dorette Badenhorst and Dumisani Chauke have been appointed to lead the South African national netball team, as new coach and assistant. Picture: Palesa Dlamini

“The fact that we don’t have a full professional league, as well as the difficulties we face in getting game time, are just two of the things that will make our journey to the 2023 World Cup a bit more difficult,” Chauke said.

“The more a player is given the platform to showcase her talent, especially against international teams, the better the player gets because that is where they get exposure and experience. I feel like people have noticed netball. They have taken notice of it, and it has gained more exposure. But that’s not enough,” Chauke said.

Badenhorst also emphasised the importance of building on the foundation laid by her predecessor, Australian coach, Norma Plummer.

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May 24 2020