The na­tion gets be­hind SA’s big netball bid

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT - MARK KEO­HANE

IT IS a his­tor­i­cal sport­ing weekend for South Africa with the coun­try’s firstever World Cup host­ing bid ex­clu­sive to a women’s sport­ing code.

Netball’s “put your hands up” cam­paign is a state­ment for the sup­port of the sport and for women in sport in South Africa.

The coun­try, from gov­ern­ment to the pub­lic, have re­sponded with an em­phatic en­dorse­ment to get be­hind Netball SA’s dream to bring the best teams to Cape Town’s In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in 2023.

“The re­sponse in the last month has been over­whelm­ing,” said Ac­cel­er­ate Sport’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Gary Grant.

Ac­cel­er­ate Sport is Netball SA’s sports busi­ness part­ner and Grant and his team have been re­spon­si­ble for the bid doc­u­ment that will be de­liv­ered to the In­ter­na­tional Netball Fed­er­a­tion’s of­fices to­day.

“It’s been an in­vig­o­rat­ing last month,” said Grant.

“Our team has worked around the clock to en­sure the dead­line was met. And there has been so much work done by so many within Netball SA, Na­tional gov­ern­ment, Western Cape gov­ern­ment, the City of Cape Town and lo­cal spon­sors of netball.

“Ev­ery­one has worked to­ward the common goal of show­cas­ing the strength and pres­ence that women’s sport has.

“No World Cup event can be hosted un­less there is ab­so­lute align­ment, sup­port and en­dorse­ment from gov­ern­ment, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the host city.

“The thank you goes to those within these struc­tures who, like us in netball, shared the vi­sion of just how im­por­tant this World Cup is for women in sport in the coun­try, and also recog­nised the eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the city, the prov­ince and the coun­try.”

The pro­jec­tions are that the 16-team Netball World Cup, hosted in Cape Town, over a 12-day pe­riod in 2023, would in­ject R2.6 bil­lion into the econ­omy.

Sport and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Tokozile Xasa­has said the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion in­cluded bring­ing in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events to South Africa and that there was an em­pha­sis on women in sport.

Min­is­ter Xasa­has also said netball, in com­par­i­son to bids like soc­cer, rugby and cricket, was not as ex­pen­sive. This was be­cause the tour­na­ment was ex­clu­sive to one city and was played over a com­pact 12-day pe­riod.

She said host­ing the World Cup would el­e­vate the sport in South Africa, es­pe­cially pro­fes­sion­ally. The sport cur­rently is sec­ond only to soc­cer as a par­tic­i­pa­tion sport.

New Zealand, win­ners of the World Cup three times, is also bid­ding to host the event for a fourth time. The last time New Zealand hosted was in 2007.

But Sas­coc pres­i­dent Gideon Sam said it was again time to bring the world’s best in sport to South Africa.

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