Netball tour­na­ment ends with first win for Jaguars

With the Bru­tal Fruit Netball Premier League, the big­gest fe­male sport­ing event in the coun­try, end­ing in a dra­matic way last Sun­day, Sil­ver Sibiya looks at the high­lights and low­lights of the season

CityPress - - Sport -

The eight weeks of non-stop netball, which started on April 21 in Dur­ban, came to an end when the Gaut­eng Jaguars fi­nally clinched the Bru­tal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) ti­tle, beat­ing the North West Flames 49-43 in Bloem­fontein.

It was the first time a team other than the Free State Crinums lifted the pres­ti­gious tro­phy since the tour­na­ment started in 2014.

It was the Jaguars’ fourth con­sec­u­tive fi­nal in the BFNPL, with the team hav­ing failed to win against the Crinums for the past three sea­sons.

“Part of me just wishes we could have played the Crinums, who beat us in three suc­ces­sive fi­nals,” said Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk in a post-match in­ter­view fol­low­ing their win against the South­ern Stings in the semi­fi­nals.

High­lights

Netball SA (NSA) pres­i­dent Mimi Mthethwa said she was happy with the tour­na­ment’s progress.

“The Crinums didn’t make it to the fi­nal, but their past suc­cess made the peo­ple of the Free State come out in num­bers to watch the fi­nal,” she said.

Mthethwa said lo­cal netball was grow­ing, which was ev­i­denced by the fact that sup­port was in­creas­ing in prov­inces across the coun­try.

“We get new fans who have never been to netball games be­fore, and when we talk to them, they con­firm that they come in num­bers be­cause it is a fam­ily sport,” said Mthethwa.

Each prov­ince was rep­re­sented by one team – ex­cept Gaut­eng, which had two.

“A high­light for this year’s league was get­ting a new win­ner,” Mthethwa said. “It was long over­due.”

She said an­other high­light was SA Brew­eries com­ing on board to fund the hir­ing of 10 full-time coaches and the weekly pay­ment of play­ers’ salaries.

“We have also se­cured 22 bur­saries that will be given to play­ers. This will help us bal­ance play­ers’ lives, not only in sport but aca­dem­i­cally.”

The NSA opted to send the BFNPL cham­pi­ons to New Zealand, in­stead of the na­tional team, as a first prize. Mthethwa said this would help give the play­ers ex­pe­ri­ence in play­ing against some of the best teams in the sport. They de­part on June 29.

Low­lights

The NSA has in the past ex­pressed a wish for BFNPL teams to have sec­ondtier teams. The Jaguars have started on a pro­gramme and have al­ready iden­ti­fied play­ers who have been pro­moted to the first team.

“When the league started in 2014, our main ob­jec­tive was to have a pro­fes­sional league. We hope to achieve that within the next 10 years,” said Mthethwa.

Spar Proteas coach Norma Plum­mer named a squad of 26 play­ers for the na­tional squad train­ing camp, which will be held in Pre­to­ria next month.

Only four mem­bers of the squad – Lenize Pot­gi­eter, Bongiwe Msomi, Erin Burger and Karla Mostert – do not play in the BFNPL. Pot­gi­eter plays in New Zealand, Msomi in the UK, and Burger and Mostert ply their trade in Aus­tralia.

The team will play in the Quad Se­ries, which be­gins in Au­gust. The se­ries pits South Africa against Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Eng­land.

“We want to have a look at the top play­ers ahead of an in­ter­na­tional season that in­cludes the Quad Se­ries, the Di­a­mond Chal­lenge and two tests against Fiji,” said Plum­mer.

PHOTO: SIL­VER SIBIYA

AT LONG LAST The Gaut­eng Jaguars cel­e­brate their de­served league vic­tory af­ter beat­ing the North West Flames in the fi­nals

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