Netball players finally set to return to court on Wednesday
After almost seven months of inactivity due to the coronavirus outbreak and the resultant lockdown enforced by the government‚ the netball players are finally set to return to court when action resumes at the Mangaung Indoor Sports Complex on Wednesday.
The Telkom Netball (TNL) was initially scheduled for May 2020 but those plans were completely disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19. The event resumes in Bloemfontein and will run until October 27‚ 2020.
The Tornadoes from the Western Cape and the the Kingdom Queens from KwaZulu-Natal are two additions to the tournament while the national under-21 side will play some exhibition matches in the event in Bloemfontein.
The under-21s‚ who will be coached by Dr Elsje Jordaan‚ will use the tournament to get much needed game time after their Africa qualifiers for the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup in Fiji got cancelled.
Ahead of their opening match‚ head coach of defending champions Gauteng Jaguars‚ Jenny van Dyk‚ said their preparations were not easy because of the safety protocols they had to follow.
“Preparations for the team before we came into the bubble here in Bloem were challenging but at the same time also very exciting‚” she said as they prepared to take on the North West Flames on Wednesday morning.
“As defending champions‚ it has been such an honour to win it for the past few years but that comes with a lot of hard work. The goal will be to win it again this year.
"That will always be our goal and we are looking forward to the tournament. Our approach will be to take it one match at a time and make sure that we secure a semifinal place‚ and from there anything is possible.
“The mere fact that we are able to play netball this year in itself is very unbelievable. It is exciting in the bubble‚ you need total team focus and now we need the final opportunity to get our game plans settled in.
"The other thing is that you can’t really push the players too hard because we are going to play 12 matches in double round against the best teams in SA. You need to be well rested and well prepared. At this stage‚ it is more a strategic and analytical approach that we are following."
Head coach of the Gauteng Golden Fireballs‚ Dumisane Chauke‚ said her players are ready to challenge for top honours.
“Our preparations have gone on very well‚ we have been working hard and we are just winding down as the start of the tournament gets closer and closer‚" Chauke said.
"Today (Tuesday) we focused on a bit of relaxation to make sure that the body is nice and loose‚ the mind is ready for what is about to happen and doing video analysis.
“One thing that we are looking forward to the most is the fierce competition that is expected as there have been some notable movements of players from one team to another and there have new players coming into the system.
"As a coach‚ that is what I am looking forward to the most.”