{mosimage}I believe you discovered our July gSTAR, Tsakane Mbewe! Tell us about her.
Its basically humble beginnings; she comes from the informal settlement of Tembisa, they call it Ivory Park. That’s where I identified her and I brought her into my school, which is a netball school, Chipeya Academy, based in Newtown.
When did you start the Academy?
The academy started in 1997. At the moment, we have about 20 of our athletes (netball and soccer) who have made nationals, including Tsakane (Mbewe)
For soccer, I have about 15 boys in the Premier Soccer League. One of them is in the national team, Benson Mhlongo, the national captain.
Do you coach netball as well?
I am actually the head coach of both netball and soccer at the Academy.
How does the Premier Netball League work?
In all the nine province, we have different clubs playing for different regions. Every province will then select a provincial team. It can be a minimum of 10 players and a maximum of 12.
So we will have nine teams, and rated according to their performances, they are divided into two groups, the A sections and the B section.
The A section consists of five teams, which is five of the strongest in the country, and then the other four, being the average in terms of competition.
How would you describe the strength of the Premier League?
The top five teams actually reflect the high standard we have in the country so far.
Is it good to have two different sections?
To some extent you can say yes. But it has its Pros and Cons. Once you group the stronger teams one side and the weaker teams one side, you get caught up somewhere in development between the two.
You end up playing a promotion/demotion type of a league. What has been happening in the past, only the same teams are going up and going down every year, but to me, I’d prefer that it gets opened up so we can have more teams coming in.
What is the difference between the Premier League and the Inter-Provincials taking place in August?
The Premier League, which is also known as the National League, only affects the provinces.
The one in August, we call it the Senior National Championships, affects all the provinces, but a team that participates there, is a graded as a region rather than a province.
So, there is more participation in August, than in the National League. When you look at Netball South Africa as a whole, it has nine provinces, but at the same time, it has 34 regions.
So in August, all 34 regions come and play, as opposed to the one in the National League.
What is your advice for women who want to take up netball?
Netball is a very competitive sport. If we could have a lot of financial support, maybe we can turn the league itself into a professional league. In that case, it would encourage a lot of youngsters to come through.
We could have some youngsters taking netball as part of their career, as is happening now in soccer.
It is difficult to encourage the up and coming to take up netball as a professional career, because at the end of the day, it can only take you up to a certain point, not beyond.
Otherwise, in terms of recreation, it’s a very interesting sport to take up.
If you would like to contribute to the Chipeya Academy, contact Prof Chipeya: (Address:) 121 Eloff Extension, Newtown, (Tel:) 084 915 3691