The community of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal are celebrating their teenage netball stars following their victory on the national stage, beating Umgungundlovu in the U19 Division A2 final of the inaugural Telkom Netball Challenge to win gold.
Zululand coach Jabulani Mabuyakhulu expressed his excitement after his team stepped up their performance to emerge victorious in their division.
“I’m very excited about the victory. These are young kids, and this is their first time playing in the tournament. Out of 12 players, we have eight who are 15 and 16 years old,” he said.
Umgungundlovu were log leaders throughout the campaign with eight points on the table while Zululand had eight points before the semi-finals.
Pressures of Broadcast Frustrates Coach
Despite walking away with a 37-32 victory in the final, Mabuyakhulu said it was frustrating to keep the ladies focussed at the start of the competition because it was the first time they played in a national tournament, and it was their experience of being on live TV.
“Our first game was against Umgungundlovu which we lost. What was worse was that it was the first time that the girls played in a national tournament.
“They heard that their games were being televised, which was a great distraction. so that excitement took them off whatsoever game plan and instructions were given to them. As much as they were excited about that, they needed to stay focused on the game plan.
“What opened their eyes was that if they lost another match, they wouldn’t, play in the semi-finals and make it to the finals and I kept telling them that we must play in the final. That’s what kept them going.” – Zululand coach Jabulani Mabuyakhulu
Mabuyakhulu thanked the lead sponsors of the competition, Telkom and SuperSport for their support of the game and the women who competed in the campaign.
“I kept saying to myself there has to be something that is going to expose these young girls. With girls, there is very little exposure. Now that Telkom and SuperSport have come on board, it’s going to help them and make the competition more competitive.
“To see young girls growing up like that is very pleasing.
The final victory sees Zululand qualify for the KZN Super League C league.
The coach will be hoping that his team’s win will inspire more young girls to start playing netball as South Africa anticipates its hosting of the 2023 Netball World Cup.
Photo 1 Caption: The community of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal are celebrating their teenage netball stars following their victory on the national stage, beating Umgungundlovu in the U19 Division A2 final of the inaugural Telkom Netball Challenge to win gold. Photo: Netball SA (Twitter)