North West Impresses

The Spar National Netball Championships began at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Monday.  At the much-anticipated opening ceremony, all 45 teams across all sections were present and enjoyed some entertainment from local talents Mthwalume Brass Band, before being addressed by NSA Director Mami Diale, KZN MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport & Recreation: Mrs Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Sapetha and Prem Vayapuri (Manager: Sport & Recreation, KZN Province).  The championships are being played according to a new format, with teams representing provinces rather than regions, and North West coach Dorette Badenhorst, was pleased with the way her team started, beating KwaZulu Natal A2 49-13, and Gauteng 36-26.

It was a very close affair, with Gauteng holding the lead after the first quarter 9-5.  North West rallied in the second quarter though, to have a slender lead at halftime 16-13.  From then on it was one-way traffic for North West, they led 27-18 after quarter three and only extended that in the final quarter.  North West Goal-shooter Sigi Burger had an excellent first match, shooting at 100% and converting all of her 23 chances.
Goal Attack and Proteas player, Elsunet Du Plessis, who has just returned from the Netball World Cup in Sydney, contributed the other 13 goals for North West.  With a win over the defending champions, coach Dorette Badenhorst was suitably satisfied with her team’s performance on Day 1.  She says:  ‘We had a good first day, and I was able to try out a lot of combinations.  I’ve got a few players coming back from injury, and it’s important that we don’t push them too hard.  It was Sigi Burger’s first day back from injury, and I think she went well.  But Fifi (Kefiloe Tsotsetsi) also played well as goalshooter, and it’s lovely that we have players that we can use in different combinations.’

Badenhorst said she liked the new format, although she thought it might work better for some provinces than for others:  ‘It’s great having the provinces here, but it’s a big change for them.  Some are much bigger than others, and they can draw players from a lot of clubs, but others might suffer because of the new format.  It’s a great opportunity for players to experience playing in the A-section.  I’ve got two players who normally play in the B-section, and they did very well today.’  
She said some of the provinces would find it difficult to train as a team, because of the vast distances they had to travel:  ‘For instance, the Eastern Cape, it’s a long way between it’s a long way between East London and Port Elizabeth, whereas for us, it’s not such a big distance.  So the training is definitely a problem for some of the provinces, but I think we can work on this format.’

In other matches played on day one of the tournament, Free State beat KwaZulu Natal A1 35-22, Western Cape A1 beat Northern Cape 32-9, Gauteng beat Western Cape A2 45-12, and Eastern Cape beat Limpopo 36-26.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott