There is much at stake for members of the Spar national netball training squad when they attend a training camp at the TUKS Sports Centre in Pretoria this weekend. At the end of the camp, a team will be selected to travel to Jamaica in June for a three-Test series.
The Jamaica series is one of a number of international engagements for the Proteas this year, and is part of Netball South Africa’s (NSA) plan to provide the national team with as much international competition as possible leading up to the next major international tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
Jamaica are currently ranked fourth, and should provide stiff opposition for the fifth-ranked South African team. The Jamaican players are generally very tall, and their style of play is very physical.
“They have a height advantage in the goal circle at both ends, with exceptionally tall goalshooters and defenders. It is easier to counter taller defence, with speed and accuracy, but it is very hard to out-jump a very tall goalshooter,” said Spar Proteas coach Elize Kotze.
“Centre court play will be very important. We can’t just rely on turnover balls. “But I have great faith in players like Amanda Mynhardt and Vanes-Mari du Toit, who are both very experienced, to deal with the Jamaican attack.”
Mynhardt is currently playing in New Zealand, but Kotze said she was returning to South Africa until after the national championships in August.
“She is gaining great experience in New Zealand, playing at the top level, week in and week out, but I would not like to be without her either as a captain or as a player.”
Kotze said it was important to develop a core of experienced players. “Developing a winning side is not a short-term exercise – it takes time,” she said. “I’m very happy that the only regular member of the team who will not be available is Claudia Basson, who has work commitments.
“We will miss her experience and her ability as a goalshooter, but this will open up opportunities for younger players to test themselves against very tough opposition.”
In October, South Africa will be taking part in a Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand, against the three top-ranked teams – Australia, New Zealand and England, and the series against Jamaica will go a long way to prepare the Spar Proteas to compete against the very best.