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Netball festival set for Joburg

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Johannesburg – Following South Africa's recent clean sweep over Northern Ireland and their first victory over Jamaica in 45 years, netball fans will have much to look forward to at the annual Spar National Championships in Johannesburg next month.

More than 80 teams from all parts of the country have registered for the tournament, which will be played at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from August 6 to 11.

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 13, The triumphant Gauteng North team with the trophy after beating Free State Motheo in the final during day 6 of the Spar National Netball Championship at Bellville Velodrome on August 13, 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. From left to right: Behind: Elize Kotze (Coach), Magda Janse van Vuuren (Manager), Vanes-mari du Toit, Melissa Myburgh, Rozanne Matthyse, Anneret Viljoen, Annemarie Frost, Desmarie Kotze, Jenny van Dyk (Asst Coach). Front: Vasta Mhlongo, Martha Mosoahle, Erin Burger, Momazizi Mzayidume and Heike Kotze. Photo by Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images

The tournament, which is always played around National Women's Day, will be divided into A, B and C-sections, and there will also be a men's competition.

Defending champions Gauteng North hope to continue their dominance with a third successive win.

They can expect strong competition from last year's defeated finalists, Free State Motheo, as well as from Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

With plenty of international netball coming up, including the inaugural Diamond Challenge, featuring South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania, and the Quad Nations series against Australia, New Zealand and England later in the year, top players will be putting their best foot forward to ensure they catch the eye of the selectors.

Netball South Africa's president Mimi Mthethwa pointed out that the National Championships is not just about the elite teams, but also about the teams playing in the lower divisions.

“Every player at the tournament will be doing her best for her team,” said Mthethwa.

“Netball is a very competitive sport, and we expect a high standard of play in all divisions.

“It is also a time to make new friends and renew old friendships.” – Sapa

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