Head coach Elize Kotze and Captain Amanda Mynhardt at a press conference before their departure for the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Tuesday that Elize Kotze would coach the SPAR National Netball Team until after the scheduled tour to Jamaica in June.

The announcement was made after a weekend training camp at which aspirant coaches worked with the national squad, and were put through their paces. Vice President NSA Blanche de la Guerre, said that this approach to appointing a coach was a first for Netball South Africa.

“We decided to take on a very transparent and widespread approach,” said de la Guerre. “Coaches were assessed on a number of levels including previous successes, coaching skills, and psychological testing. The panel consisted of five members, two external and three previous coaches of the South African national team.”

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said the panel, which evaluated the coaches, had recommended Kotze as the most suitable. “However, Elize has a number of conditions that we are unable to meet at this stage, so we decided that we would appoint her to take the team to Jamaica, and then we would either advertise again for a national coach, or else use a headhunter,” said Mthethwa.

She said Kotze’s conditions were not unreasonable, but NSA was unable to meet them at this stage. “But we are currently engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Sport in an attempt to improve conditions for netball,” she said. “We hope the outcome of the talks will be that we might be able to put netball on a more professional footing in future.”

Kotze was a member of a coaching panel appointed early last year, after the resignation of the previous coach, Carin Strauss. Kotze was named head coach for the World Championships in Singapore last July. South Africa finished fifth in the tournament after beating their Africa nemesis, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth and sixth place.

Kotze, who was a member of the South African team that won the silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, said she was keen to continue working with the team so that they could build on what had been achieved at the World Championships and in their tour to Australia last year.

“We got to number five in the world at the world championships, and the logical next step is to aim for number four,” said Kotze. “I sincerely believe we have the players, the talent and the potential to achieve this.

“But the top four countries – Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica –are professionals, and it is very difficult for an amateur team to compete on equal terms with them.”

Kotze said one of the problems facing the team was a lack of continuity. “We had the team for six months ahead of the World Championships, and we knew all the time what was happening with every single member of the squad. But they have to work or go back to their studies, and that continuity is lost.”