The Limpopo province will host the Spar National Netball Championship which will be taking place from the 7th to the 12th of December. The championship, which is normally held in August, had to be postponed because of the global coronavirus pandemic. Netball South Africa (NSA) were finally given government permission to host the championship and have selected a resort in Bela Bela in Limpopo, the Zwartkloof, which has eight courts, as a venue for the tournament.
Tournament director, Ms Mami Diale, said the championship will be smaller than usual because of the circumstances. She said there will be 40 teams taking part, 20 under 21 and 20 senior teams. Diale said there won’t be a C-section, the eight teams will play in the senior A-section, on a round robin basis, ending with semi-finals and a final.
“All participants will have to undergo a Covid-19 test 24 hours before the start of the tournament and then self-isolate to prevent the spread of the disease. We are taking over the resort so there will be no mixing with the outside world. We want to ensure everyone’s health and safety and we will be creating a “soft bubble” in line with the governments Covid-19 safety rules and regulations. Because it is expected to be very hot, we will start very early in the morning, with the first matches at 06:00. There will be a three-hour break from noon until 15:00,” said Diale.
Spar group’s marketing executive, Mr Mike Prentice said that in such uncertain times it was wonderful to see South Africa’s premier national netball tournament taking place and returning to the beautiful province of Limpopo. He said the prestigious event plays an important part in the overall development of netball in South Africa. He added that it also falls in line with NSA president, Cecilia Molokwane’s vision of taking netball back to the people, a vision that is fully supported by Spar as the country gears up to host the 2023 Netball World Cup which will be held in Cape Town.
“Spar has also committed itself to finding practical solutions to address the impact of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa and has partnered with organisations such as the National Prosecuting Authority, Lifeline and NSA to create awareness of GBV and we will be using the championship to promote our campaign messaging. Lifeline will be at the championship to offer confidential counselling to all the participants and through the various functions our strong GBV messaging will be themed,” said Prentice.
NSA president, Cecilia Molokwane said it was unthinkable that a year could pass without the Spar national championships taking place.
“We are hosting the World Netball Cup in 2023 and we need to provide as many opportunities as possible for the players, coaches, umpires, technical officials, statisticians and everyone involved in the sport to get ready to put on the best ever Netball World Cup,” said Molokwane.
Spar Proteas coach, Dorette Badenhorst said the players will all have an opportunity to show what they can do. She added that she would be keeping an eye out for talent during the national championship.
“The teams selected for the upcoming Spar Challenge test series against Malawi are not necessarily the players who will be in the South African squad to be announced in January. Because the Spar National Championship is based on districts rather than provinces, there are more opportunities for players from smaller or remote areas to show what they are capable of. There is so much talent in South Africa and many talented players are in the smaller districts. I look forward to discovering some new stars,” said Badenhorst.