This follows the long awaited launch of the Diamond Netball Challenge in Sandton early this morning.
It is expected that the challenge will result in massive exposure which Netball deserves in this country, and according to the National Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, it has been long overlooked.
“We’re excited about the challenge and the plan is to grow it into premier netball event in the continent. It remains the largest sporting codes in the the country and deserves its own league,” says Mbalula.
The Diamond Netball Challenge will see four countries- SA-hosts, Botswana, Tanzania and Malawi battling it out from August 11 to 19 in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Despite the hardwork put into marketing Netball in SA, their efforts seem to be elusive hence the Spar team which will be partaking in the challenge, has requested the team members who are fulltime employed at various companies to sacrifice time to be at the tourney.
Despite reports that it is played by over 2million people countrywide, they’re still not cracking it and with backing and support from both government and private sector, it expected sooner that a professional league could be established for recognition it dearly deserves.
The person who is experiencing nightmares is none other than Mimi Mthethwa, NBS President. Pouring her heart out exlusively to Sowetolife Magazine Online, she said it would take ages before this sporting code be recognised and celebrated like any other ‘well known’ sporting codes.
“Our turn around strategy having engaged with the department of Sport would help us greatly to identify Netball in this country as an in-thing, despite being played everywhere and by everyone.
Our believe is that, this challenge would seek to act as catalyst between us and potential clients to promote and take this sport to another level,” she pointed out.
The country should bear in mind that, these athletes are fulltime working members hence it’s a mission to arrange comprehensive camps which would only take five days instead of a month, which also tells you why countries such as Australia and New Zealand always outperform us, says Mthethwa.
“We hope our message will be louder and clearer, now that other African states have agreed to partake in this annual challenge to make it more exciting and marketable ,” she says.
Asked how were the three countries identified, Mthethwa said because of their good standing record in Netball in Africa.
Although no time frames were pointed out, the Minister said they’re in talks already with the public broadcaster and other private sector(s) to map the route for the establishment of the Netball premier league.
The tourney is also part of Women’s Month celebrations in SA.
Representatives from the three countries refused to be interviewed.
Meanwhile, the Spar Team which landed on time for the launch from Cape Town, beat Northern Ireland 58-52 to win the Spar Challenge Series in Cape Town, this week.
Tickets for the challenge will be available at Computicket outlets soon.
For more information visit: www.srsa.gov.za or netball-sa.co.za