The 2013 finalists, Mangaung and Gauteng North, both got their 2014 campaigns off to a good start at the Spar National Netball championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Monday with decisive victories in their opening matches. Defending champions Mangaung (formerly Free State) beat Frances Baard (formerly Griqualand West) 61-32, despite being without their three Proteas, Maryke Holtzhausen, Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand. Coach Burta De Kock said the absence of the three top players would give younger players a chance to shine and enable the team to develop its strength.
Gauteng North are without only one Protea, veteran goal-shooter Chrisna Van Zyl, and they romped home 48-31 against hosts Western Province. The Gauteng North side, which includes a number of current and former Proteas, has a wealth of top players, giving coach Jenny Van Dyk the enviable task of having to decide who to leave out rather than who to play. “We have a good balance of experience and younger, very energetic players. The senior players know there are up-and-coming players breathing down their necks, so there’s healthy competition, but I’m also pleased to see the way the seniors are communicating and helping the younger players, who really love learning from them,” said Van Dyk.
Gauteng North dominated the game from start to finish. They were four goals ahead after the first quarter, and stretched their lead to seven goals at half-time. By the end of the third quarter, they were 11 goals ahead and in the final quarter, they outscored the hosts by 14 goals to eight.
“Our goal is to be consistent throughout the tournament. Last year, we played very well until the final, and then we fell apart in the second half. We realized then that we needed mental strength, so we have been working on that, and we are determined it won’t happen again,” said Van Dyk. In other matches played on Monday, Frances Baard and Buffalo City (Border) drew 48-all, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Gauteng West 41-21, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) beat Boland 54-44 and Umgungundlovu thrashed Buffalo City 74-20. The 2014 championships was opened in fine style by the Western Cape MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Professor Norma-French Mbombo.
MEC Mbombo welcomed the 929 players and officials from 41 regions to Cape Town and said that the tournament was the largest women’s interprovincial played in the country by any sporting code and was specifically significant as it was played in Women’s Month.
Photo: Melissa Myburgh of Gauteng North (Left) and Phumza Maweni of Western Province compete for the ball during day 1 of the Spar National Netball Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on August 11, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott