Why do the Spar Proteas not per­form well against the best?

CityPress - - Sport - SOLVEN SIBIYA solven@city­press.co.za

The lack of a pro­fes­sional net­ball league in South Africa is one of the ma­jor rea­sons the Spar Proteas are per­form­ing poorly.

To get around this, the Proteas are now play­ing reg­u­larly against three of the big­gest net­ball na­tions in the world.

Net­ball SA (NSA) CEO Blanche de la Guerre said: “The idea is to pro­vide the teams with reg­u­lar in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.”

She said Aus­tralia and New Zealand play each other reg­u­larly, but the rest of the teams only face other strong sides on big stages, such as the Net­ball World Cup and the Com­mon­wealth Games.

South Africa, New Zealand, Eng­land and Aus­tralia re­cently started the first leg of the net­ball Quad Se­ries in Dur­ban to give the South African na­tional se­nior net­ball team ex­po­sure to strong sides.

The in­au­gu­ral matches in the Quad Se­ries were played in Aus­tralia and New Zealand last year, and have moved on to South Africa this year.

The Spar Proteas failed to win any of their matches against the big guns. They did man­age to hold world No 3 Eng­land to a 48-48 draw, but even­tu­ally ca­pit­u­lated in ex­tra time, los­ing 60-55.

Spar Proteas coach Norma Plum­mer gave some in­sight into why the na­tional team strug­gles.

“Aus­tralia and New Zealand have full-time pro­fes­sional com­pe­ti­tions,” she said, “and Aus­tralia has a de­fined path for play­ers to make it to the top.

“Most states have in­sti­tutes and acad­e­mies that deal with player devel­op­ment, and they also have a path­way for the ac­cred­i­ta­tion of coaches.”

Un­like NSA, the play­ers in the Aus­tralian na­tional league are given one- to two-year con­tracts and they have a play­ers’ union that rep­re­sents them.

Fund­ing comes from the Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion and is al­lo­cated to run­ning the na­tional team and to de­velop the sport.

Top play­ers can earn up to R1.8 mil­lion a year, she said.

“Coaches of th­ese teams work on a full-time ba­sis with re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties in place.”

The Aus­tralian team plays at least 11 in­ter­na­tional games a year, and New Zealand has a quota of 15 a year. Last year, the Proteas played 11 in­ter­na­tional games.

The In­ter­na­tional Net­ball Fed­er­a­tion stip­u­lates that each coun­try has to play at least eight in­ter­na­tional games to main­tain their rank­ing.

“The power and strength con­di­tion­ing of the Proteas play­ers needs to im­prove enor­mously. We hope to help rec­tify this go­ing for­ward,” Plum­mer said.

South Africa is ranked No 5, be­hind Ja­maica, Eng­land, New Zealand and Aus­tralia.


IN AC­TION Bongiwe Msomi of South Africa and Gabi Simp­son of the Aus­tralian Di­a­monds

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