Netball not in doldrums

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

The Netball National Championships will continue serving its purpose of unearthing the best netball players in the country.

So says Netball South Africa development officer Portia Dimu.

The championships starts at the University of Pretoria in Tshwane on Monday, with 36 out of 37 NSA regions having confirmed their attendance.

Though South African netball has been going through a bad patch internationally, Dimu thinks events like the championships offer netball officials a chance to continue improving the standards.

"Obviously, the championships allows us to find the cream of our netball talent, and therefore focus on developing it for international events," said Dimu.

Hazel Gumede, coach of Gauteng North Netball Academy, said things will start improving for netball now that the national league is stable and getting support from sponsors, something netball has had to do without for a long time.

"It is a challenge to turn our game around, but it's important to stay positive and keep trying to improve. In time, the improvement will tell on the international stage."

Defending champions and perennial powerhouses Gauteng North, coached by Elize Kotze, took last year's championship after a hard-fought battle against North West South in the final.

But last year, the national team players were withdrawn from the provincial sides to prepare for the world championships in New Zealand, with traditional powerhouses like Western Province, Boland and Free State badly affected. This year, the national players will be playing for their provinces again, and competition is expected to be stiff.

The final is set for August 9.