Africa's top ranked netball teams do battle in bio-bubble

Proteas ready for stiff Malawi test

Dumisani Chauke (assistant coach) of Spar Proteas.
Dumisani Chauke (assistant coach) of Spar Proteas.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The Spar Proteas cannot wait to get on the court to renew their rivalry with Malawi in a battle of the top-ranked netball teams in Africa.

Assistant coach Dumisani Chauke said the Proteas are ready for the acid test against the Malawi team.

The two nations meet in a three-match Test series at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Complex in Rustenburg, on November 26-30. The series will take place in a bio-bubble, which means no spectators will be allowed.

Last week Proteas coach Dorette Badenhorst announced a provisional squad of 30 players, which  will be cut down to to 15 for the Test team.

The Proteas are ranked fifth by the International Netball Federation, followed by the Queens of Malawi in sixth place. These rankings make them the top teams in Africa.

SA will be captained by Golden Fireballs centre Bongiwe Msomi. Chauke is also the head coach of the Fireballs, whom she led to third finish at the recently concluded Telkom Netball League.

The tournament which was played in a bio-bubble in Bloemfontein for two weeks also acted as a trial for team selection for the Malawi series to gauge their readiness for the forthcoming Test series.

“It was tough to play in the bio-bubble for the players. The overseas-based players rested, but the local players are still recovering from injuries and fatigue. Our players are used to playing on the weekend and not daily. It was intense in the bubble, and some did not prepare for it,” said Chauke.  

The lanky Tshwane University of Technology administrator said the players gained valuable experience in Bloemfontein.

“Some trained on grass, rubber and clay, and the tournament got played on a wooden floor. They had not played netball in six months before the tournament, and they will improve in time.”

The Proteas played their last match in a Test series in January, against England. But Chauke said she is not worried that they have not played an international in nearly 10 months. She expects a tough battle against Malawi.

“I expect a high-intensity game as both teams are hungry to improve their stature in international netball. Malawi are a physical team and love to play hard. They are the right opponent to stretch our girls to the limit.”

SA will host the INF World Cup in Cape Town in 2023. The Proteas and Malawi have the responsibility to make sure that Africa wins its first world title on home soil. 

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