Huge blow for SA's preparations ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town
The department of sport and recreation has finally conceded that it is highly unlikely that a professional netball league could be set up in South Africa before the Netball World Cup is held in Cape Town in 2023.
This is a huge blow for the netball national team's preparations for the event as former coach Norma Plummer and current coach Dorette Badenhorst have publicly spoken about the importance of the players featuring in a professional league in the lead up to the World Cup.
Their sentiments were also echoed by Netball South Africa (NSA) president Cecilia Molokwane and former sports minister Tokozile Xasa‚ who called for the establishment of a professional league.
South Africa's close competitors England‚ New Zealand‚ Australia and Jamaica have established professional leagues where some of Proteas players often take part.
Some of the best current South African players‚ namely Karla Pretorius‚ Shadine van der Merwe‚ Phumza Maweni‚ Sigi Burger‚ Ine-Mari Venter‚ Lefebre Rademan and Lenize Potgieter‚ are based overseas where they play against some of the top players in the world.
“We have to be honest that we will not have professional league by then (World Cup)‚” admitted Sumayya Khan‚ who is the deputy director-general for Recreation Development and Sport Promotion in the department of sport.
“But I think we will be a step closer‚ given the fact that many processes have already taken place over the last seven years in establishing a Premier League that will eventually take us towards a professional league.
“We are two years away from the World Cup‚ in fact we are less than two years already to the World Cup.
"Netball South Africa (NSA) already has a Premier League but it is not a full professional league at the moment.
"But it is a step towards a professional league‚ so definitely we cannot confidently say and we have to be honest that we will not have a professional league by then.”
Meanwhile‚ sports minister Nathi Mthethwa announced a six-person Local Organising Committee (OC) board for the Netball World Cup and it is to be chaired by Sascoc chief operations officer Patience Shikwambana.
The others members are: JP Smith (MMC for Safety and Security‚ City of Cape Town)‚ Dr Lyndon Bouah (Chief Director: Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport)‚ Cecilia Molokwane (Netball South Africa president)‚ Blanche de le Guerre (Netball South Africa CEO) and Sumayya Khan (DDG: Department of Sport‚ Arts and Culture).
Mthethwa said committee's responsibilities include strategic overall guidance and compliance‚ approval of all contractual obligations‚ finalization of an organisational structure for the OC‚ financial oversight to ensure continued solvency of the OC‚ approval of all requisite policies and overall project coordination and reporting.
“In bidding for the Netball World Cup‚ we firmly believed that hosting [the event would] create an environment for peak performances from the games’ finest players and provide them with a uniquely African and particularly South African experience.
"Our track record of hosting premier global sporting events is unparalleled. We want to host the most inspirational tournament in Netball World Cup history‚” said Mthethwa.