More than 650 netball players will gather in Durban next week for the annual SPAR National Netball Championships, which takes place at KwaZulu-Natal University’s Howard College campus from August 6 to 11.
 

Forty-six teams from 28 netball regions will take part in the tournament, but all eyes will be on the women’s A-section, where the country’s top teams will be trying to prove their superiority.
 
Boland are the defending champions, but the 11-times winners can expect stiff opposition from teams like Free State, Gauteng Central, Western Province and Eastern Province.
 
All A-section matches will be played indoors, in the Old Mutual Sports Hall, and the players will have the benefit of playing on the international-standard wooden sprung floor.
 
Playing on this surface will help the country’s top players prepare for the World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand in November.
 
“We have a playing squad, but the team for the world championships has still not been selected,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa. “We’ll be looking out for new talent, and so the top players still have a chance of getting into the World Cup squad.”
 
Mthethwa said it was very important to hold the championships in Durban, because it was important to ensure that netball reached all corners of South Africa.
 
“We’re very happy that at least three – Zululand, Ethekwini District and Midlands – of the four regions in KwaZulu Natal have confirmed that they will be taking part,” she said.
 
“It is also good to hold the tournament in Durban, which is the home of our sponsor’s headquarters, so that members of their staff can come to see how successful the SPAR sponsorship is.”
 
Thanda Makhanya, president of host region Ethekwini Netball, said that by holding the championships in Durban, the profile of the sport would be raised.
 
“We have lost some players to Action Netball and other sports, but because the championships are being held here, people will see that netball is alive and strong,” he said.
 
“Last week, we hosted a Test match between South Africa and Malawi, so netball is very much on the map in Durban.”