JOHANNESBURG (5 May 2016) – Netball South Africa (NSA) has confirmed that all of its international fixtures for this year will remain in place following the Minister of Sport and Recreation’s recent crackdown on transformation in South African sport.
Michael Vlismas – According to NSA CEO Blanche de la Guerre, the current agreements for international tournaments and Test series’ will be unaffected by Minister Fikile Mbalula’s government ban on netball, cricket, rugby and athletics from bidding for major international events.
“Our arrangements and agreements are all negotiated and signed a year in advance. We can’t cancel these because it does have a financial implication, and the Minister does have a sense of business. So those won’t be affected. The agreements that have been signed will stay in place,” De La Guerre said ahead of this weekend’s Fifth Round of the successful Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League.
The league is an essential part of the process of honing the current national team players and unearthing new stars for the upcoming international season.
The domestic season concludes in May, which is when the Spar Proteas will then launch their international campaign.
First on the schedule is a three-Test series against Wales in Durban in June and including the under-21 teams of both countries.
In August the national team will take part in the new International Netball Super Series including netball powerhouses Australia, New Zealand and England. The series will be played in both Australia and New Zealand from 27 August to 4 September under the new SANZEA partnership between these four countries.
And also in September, Jamaica will make their highly anticipated debut in the Diamond Challenge in Durban, joining the Spar Proteas, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
This will also include a Test series between the respective under-21s of the two countries.
“But we won’t sign any new agreements,” added De La Guerre. “We will first look at our EPG (Eminent Persons Group) report and see where we are found to be lacking, and then present again. We hope to see the Minister before the end of the month to discuss this again.”
NSA was recently praised by the International Netball Federation (INF) for its growth of netball in Africa, especially with the work done on the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and affording other African teams the opportunity of participating in the Diamond Challenge.
“Africa is a very important region to us and the talent in South Africa really means they have the potential to become the number one team in the world,” said INF President Molly Rhone.
“NSA are the biggest and most organised federation in Africa, and they do give a lot of support to the other African nations in helping to raise the overall standard. And when it comes to their technical programme, when I see the number of young umpires coming through in South Africa, if I take Australia out of the picture, it’s something I’m not seeing anywhere else in the world.”
De La Guerre said the disappointment of the EPG report has not dampened their desire to keep growing netball.
“We have worked too hard and have spent too much time and resources on netball to end in this way. We want to leave a legacy of a game that is fully transformed in every facet. That’s what we’ve been working towards for the past 15 to 20 years. We were disappointed because if you come to our events you will see we are fully transformed.
“We have accredited over 400 black coaches in the last year. We have also accredited new technical officials and umpires. But there are certain criteria that the EPG feels we need to have a look at and change, and we will work towards overcoming these challenges.”
Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League Round 5 Fixtures (Ellis Park Indoor Arena, Johannesburg):
18:00 – Aloes v Southern Stings
20:00 – Fireballs v Jaguars
14:00 – Flames v Baobabs
16:00 – Aloes v Crinums
18:00 – Sunbirds v Fireballs
10:30 – Flames v Diamonds
12:30 – Crinums v Kingdom Stars