Hunt for young netball talent
A provincial partnership between a provincial sport academy and provincial netball structure is already making it all happen and positive results are surfacing.
Western Cape Netball administers development and advancement of the game in the province.
The Western Cape Academy of Sport (Wecsa) and Western Cape Netball are on a mission, with objectives clearly defined, to discover netball talent in the province, to assist talented netball players to further develop in the sport, and to strengthen the Western Cape’s national league team, the Stings.
It was three years ago that Western Cape Netball approached Wecsa with a proposal, called the Western Cape Netball Performance Plan, to further develop the game in the province.
“It was a good plan with clearly achievable objectives and we got started on working together with this plan,” said Wecsa manager, Wayne Weitz.
The plan focused on talent identification for netball talent in all districts comprising the Western Cape netball structure.
The six districts are the West Coast, Cape Town, Central Karoo, Cape Winelands, Overberg and Eden.
No district was left out, which meant no netball player would be undiscovered or ignored.
Former South African international netball player Danlee Matthews, who is now an elite-level coach, drives the Western Cape’s netball performance plan with coach and coaching education. It is through coach Matthews’ erstwhile, sincere efforts that much netball talent has been discovered in all six netball playing districts of the Western Cape.
About 85 players were selected for high-performance assessment, training, conditioning and support.
Wecsa has ensured that the support project was localised for players to get the necessary support in the areas they play netball. Support for the high-performance netball initiative comes in the form of nutrition, gym training, psychology, player assessments and coaching.
Weitz firmly believes the high-performance project collaborative proje ct is making positive strides.
“Coach Danlee Matthews provided the necessary and vital technical expertise to the coaches and helped them identify talent,” he explained.
“She also provided the training programmes but Matthews didn’t just leave it there. She monitored and assessed the entire project consistently, worked through its weaknesses and strengthened the programme. Today, several talented girl and young women netballers are being supported by this collaboration and their netball game is improving,” Weitz added.
This high-performance regional project ensured that under-resourced communities were included in the programme and supported.
“We don’t want any netball club or district to be left out or ignored. Netball talent exists all over the Western Cape and we must look out for it and ensure it’s developed with the necessary resources and support.”
Already, the fruits of the relationship between Wecsa and Western Cape Netball are surfacing with provincial age group talented netballers coming through the system and some already using this project to impact on the Stings.
“The project is coach-driven and athlete-centred and we work with six districts loaded with netball enthusiasm, passion and talent,” said Matthews, who is the Stings’ assistant coach and driver of the programme.
“The results are looking good judging from the Western Cape’s performances in national tournaments this year. We can see the players are benefiting, especially from Wecsa’s scientific and athlete-needs support-like psychological assessment and gym training and nutrition,” she added.
With the 2023 Netball World Cup coming to Cape Town, Wecsa and Western Cape Netball want to see a player or players coming out of this high-performance system playing for South Africa in the tournament. The project is ongoing and continues into next year.
* Cheryl Roberts is a sports activist.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.