Even though they didn’t win a medal, the Spar Proteas ended their netball World Cup campaign with two wins: wing defence Karla Pretorius was named Player of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup and the team’s excellent performance at the world cup (4 straight wins, including against #2 Jamaica) earned them a huge bonus: sponsor Spar announced through Cecilia Molokwane, President of Netball South Africa, that they would reward the team with R1.2-m for reaching the semi-finals – even though the supermarket chain initially pledged R1-m for a win, R750 000 for silver, R250 000 for bronze and R200 000 for qualifying for the semi-finals.

This amount will be a big boost for enhancing local netball performance.

The Proteas’ recent sterling performances under coach Norma Plummer has placed netball under the spotlight – to the benefit of PUMA as their official clothing and footwear sponsor leading up to the next World Cup to be hosted in Cape Town. The brand has indicated that it will also be providing netball replicas. Gilbert was also again chosen as the Netball SA official ball and will again be the ball of the next world cup tournament.

Cecilia Molokwane, President of Netball SA, Liz Nicholl, new President of the International Netball Federation (INF), Arnoux Marais, Western Cape MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sports, Molly Rhone, outgoing President of the INF, and Clare Briegel, CEO of the International Netball Federation, at the media briefing on the 2023 Netball World Cup to be hosted in Cape Town. Photo: Reg Caldecott.

The next four years will be spent preparing for the next World Cup in 2023. After congratulating Liverpool for hosting a successful tournament, Team South Africa 2023 gave a briefing to the international media and dignitaries on what they can expect from the Cape Town International Convention Centre as the designated venue in Cape Town. They had also attended the observer programme in Liverpool and gained valuable insights and information on how to deliver a successful world cup.

The 2023 World Cup was not only for Cape Town, the Western Cape and South Africa, but for Africa as a whole, said Molokwane. “We as South Africa have an obligation to help the INF develop the game throughout Africa. Africa is a sleeping netball giant and already we have four teams from Africa in the world’s top ten ranked nations. Netball South Africa and the Team South Africa 2023 have committed to the promotion, development and growth of the game throughout the continent.”

Apart from South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi performed well in the 2019 Vitality World Cup.

“Netball is an important sporting code in the Western Cape and our commitment through winning the 2023 World Cup will be to increase our netball regions, our netball participation and give so many more young girls the chance to play the beautiful game and assist them on a path to becoming future SPAR Proteas, said Western Cape MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Arnoux Marias at the briefing.

Erin Burger in action at the 2019 world cup. Photo: Reg Caldecott.

Although under the radar, South Africa’s Spar Proteas #5 before the World Cup, has been among the top netball teams in the world for a few years now. In the 2011 Netball World Cup another South African player was named Player of the Tournament, namely Erin Burger.

“When Erin won the award eight years ago it really inspired me,” Pretorius said at the medal ceremony. “I have always believed that we can compete with the best in the world even though we don’t play as often as we would like against the top nations. Me winning this award shows that South Africa have the talent, players and team to go to the top. I am excited about the future of the SPAR Proteas.”