Netball SA LogoTop South African netball officials left for Melbourne on Wednesday for talks with their Australian counterparts about a professional netball league (NPL).

Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula announced earlier this year that a South African professional netball league would be launched next year as part of efforts to promote the biggest women’s sport in the country.

Netball South Africa (NSA) president Mimi Mthethwa and vice-president Blanche de la Guerre will meet Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer and officials of the world’s strongest netball league, the Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) Championship, to discuss a variety of aspects of the establishment of a successful league.

These aspects include the ideal relationship between NSA and the NPL, a trust fund for professional players, television and sponsorship rights, and disciplinary codes. Another important issue is whether the NPL would fall under the NSA constitution or have its own.

Mthethwa and De la Guerre will also meet the general manager of the ANZ Championship, Andy Crook, to discuss aspects such as who would be in charge of the NPL, fixtures and calendars, and competition rules.

Australia and New Zealand dominate world netball, and the ANZ Championship features some of the world’s best netball players in a feast of trans-Tasman Sea rivalry. It attracts packed houses and is closely followed on television, with leading players attracting as many fans as cricket or rugby players.

“We believe they are the perfect people to help us to introduce a professional national netball league,” said De la Guerre. “They went through various development stages to get to where they are now, so they would be the ideal reference for us to move from amateur to professional netball.”

The SPAR South African netball team leaves for Australia on Monday for the Quad Series, in which South Africa will play top netball countries – Australia, New Zealand and England – in a series that will take them to three centres in Australia and three in New Zealand.