Facilities and services at SA universities are a perfect platform.
University netball has played a great role in ensuring that the South African national netball team remains successful.
The ladies in green and white have over the years come mostly from the University of Pretoria (Tuks Netball), the University of the North West and the University of the Free State (Kovsies Netball).
To unveil the secret behind the success, City Press visited Tuks Netball.
“We’ve got the right people running things here,” said Tuks head of netball Jenny van Dyk.
According to Van Dyk, their success, which has in turn contributed to the success of the national team, was built on a solid foundation with different developmental levels.
More than 10 teams of different age groups make up Tuks Netball, which prides itself as “the home of the sport at university, Under-21 and senior team levels”.
Besides its impressive track record, Tuks Netball boasts three consecutive national Under-21 championships and three successive senior national championships crowns under the moniker of North Gauteng.
National team coach Elize Kotze, who is Van Dyk’s predecessor, said Tuks had a very professional programme.
“They understand that building top players is a process with no short cuts and quick fixes. Unfortunately, many do not understand the importance of such things,” she said.
She added that Tuks had a long-term plan of what they should achieve and when. This was parallel to a visionary succession plan, which she said was evident as the incumbent head coach Van Dyk was her assistant for six years.
Erin Burger, who won player of the tournament at the World Netball Championships in 2011, is a product of this success story.
“They have the right people running things,” she said.
Vanes-Marie du Toit, who won player of the tournament at this year’s African Champs, concurred.
University Netball Association president Melinda Goosen said the facilities and services offered at universities make these institutions a perfect grooming platform for top athletes.
Netball SA chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said the sport’s biggest challenge remains limited funding, but she was optimistic that many in the private sector are beginning to see the value of investing in the sport.
The lack of funds has seen the much-hyped Netball Premier League, which was set to start in April this year, stutter because of a lack of sponsorship.
Retail giant Spar has been the lone funder for 12 years, but has recently been joined by Mitre, Tsogo Sun and SuperSport, which will broadcast live all national team matches played locally and will air a magazine show, Everything Netball, once a month.
Position: Goal shooter and goal attack
Profile: One of the best goal shooters in the national team, Bootha is renowned for her impressive long shots.
She represented the national team in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the 2011 World Netball Championships and the 2012 Fast5 Netball World Series. As one of the senior Proteas players, she provides valuable guidance to the younger players.
She has represented Gauteng North in its three previous successes in the National Championships.
Vanes-Maries du Toit
Position: Goalkeeper and goal shooter
Profile: Du Toit is the most esteemed netball player in Africa, having won the award for player of the tournament in the recent African Champs in Malawi.
She has established herself as one of the players the national team cannot do without.
Her consistency is the driving force behind Gauteng North’s dominance in domestic competitions.
This year she almost became SA’s first player to play in the New Zealand ANZ Championship for the Southern Steel team, but the deal did not materialise.
Position: Centre, wing attack and wing defence
Profile: Since joining Tuks Netball in 2006, Burger has participated in at least five global tournaments, including two World Championships.
The versatile Proteas player has proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
Despite the Proteas’ failure to impress in the 2011 World Championships in Singapore, the 26-year-old was named player of the tournament.
Although no longer a registered University of Pretoria student, she plays her netball for Tuks Divas and Gauteng North.
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