Netball South Africa haas suffered a blow with the announcement last week that the captain of the South African team, Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan, is to leave for Australia in June.
Bock-Jonathan, who has been a member of the national netball team since 1998 and captained the team at the world championships in Auckland, New Zealand last year, is taking up the position of coach of the new Canberra Darters and the ACT Netball Academy.
"It's very exciting - it's a four-year contract, and works very well for me," said Bock-Jonathan. "The past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind for me.
"I'm very excited about coaching the Darters, and I am very enthusiastic about the work I will be doing at the ACT Academy, because that fits in with my Sports Science speciality, where I examined the role of sport in improving the lives of teenage girls on the Cape Flats."
The charismatic Bock-Jonathan has a PhD in Sports Science and is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University.
She captained South Africa at the world championships at senior and Under-21 level, and was part of the Commonwealth Games teams in Malaysia in 1998 and Manchester in 2002, where she was the flag bearer for the South African team at the opening ceremony. She missed the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 because of injury.
"To have an experienced player like Bronwyn here in Canberra is a great result for netball," said ACT Sport and Recreation minister Andrew Barr.
"Her knowledge will be invaluable to the Darters squad and will no doubt flow through to the development programmes of Netball ACT and the local associations."
NSA vice president Blanche de la Guerre said the news evoked mixed emotions for the South African netball family. She said NSA would be saddened by Bock-Jonathan's departure, but everyone was excited about the opportunity facing her.
"To say we are sorry to see you go is an understatement, " said De la Guerre in a message to Bock-Jonathan. "You have been an integral part of not only our national team, but netball in general, and more importantly our lives.
"You touched people's hearts wherever you went, whatever you did and wherever you played." - Sapa