The South African national netball team is to meet at the Stellenbosch Sports Centre for an intensive training camp from Monday to Saturday next week. The Netball Proteas have been invited to participate in the European Netball Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from May 11 to 18. The other countries taking part are England, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland and Wales.
England is ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand, and head coach Benny Saayman is excited about the prospect of gauging South Africa’s strengths against one of the top teams ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in August. Saayman says: ‘The other teams are also quite strong, so we will be able to see where we stand and what we still need to do. It is very important to us to play against strong opposition, because we will meet both Australia and New Zealand at the World Cup.’ She said the training camp would be used to hone the players’ basic skills before giving them game time: ‘We’ll break it down to different aspects of the game and work on those until they are second nature. Once we’ve done that we can start playing again.’
The squad will also spend time with Dr Sherylle Calder, who is renowned for the success of her specialised Eye Gym, which helped England and South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2007 respectively. The eye training helps players react faster to situations on court. Three players, national captain Maryke Holtzhausen, Bongiwe Msomi and Phumza Maweni are currently playing Super League netball in England.
Saayman said that if they were selected for the squad for the tournament in Ireland, they would join the rest of the squad at the pre-departure training camp from May 4 to 8.