Merit tournament set to build quality players from all the regions

BUILD: Mimi Mthetwa. Pic. Pat Seboko. 25/10/05. © Sowetan.
BUILD: Mimi Mthetwa. Pic. Pat Seboko. 25/10/05. © Sowetan.

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Mimi Mthethwa, the president of Netball South Africa, says the envisaged merit tournament - from Thursday to Sunday - is aimed at giving the association a chance to build a pool of quality players from all regions.

In a letter addressed to Minister of Sports and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile, seeking to clarify the issue after reports implied the quota system was to blame for a string of below par performances by the team, NSA said the idea came about to allow regions the chance to select their teams based on performance, without considering quotas.

The quota system dictates that during national team matches, the ratio between white and black players should be 5:2 either way.

"It has been noted that while NSA has been successful in applying the target system for all players to take part, the standard of play is dropping.

"This could be attributed to many different reasons. One of these could be that at present NSA's focus is more on participation than performance," the letter said.

"NSA feels that most regions that have few players of colour either way, are forced to leave good players behind when they attend the national championships to meet target requirements and to avoid penalties.

"This implies that some regions do not play to their full strength as some good players, regardless of colour, are left behind to accommodate players who might not be as good. This means that selections are sometimes conducted on material that is not of quality."

Professor Chipeya of Gauteng Central said the exercise would show just how untransformed the regions are, and actually raises more questions than answers.

"It will work only to a certain extent. They should come out and say whether they are doing away with transformation or not. What happens if we get the best players, and all of them are of one colour?" Chipeya asked.

Christine du Preez of Gauteng East said demarcation dictated what kind of players one has access to.

"The bottom line is: if you are a good player you will not worry about anything, and I strongly believe that. Look at Gauteng Central under Prof (Chipeya). He is brilliant, and he only has black players. What if his team is weakened by white players?"

Regions have responded positively to the hosting of the tournament and a significant number have already confirmed their entries.