JOHANNESBURG - Newly-appointed Proteas netball coach Dr Elsje Jordaan says the recent successful tour of Australasia and Fiji has instilled a belief among the players that they can beat any team in the world.
The Proteas team has made steady improvements over recent seasons, but none as dramatic as the past year. The South African women on Sunday returned from a fruitful tour where they demonstrated their stellar rise.
Beating the England Roses to claim their maiden Netball Quad Series victory, losing to Australia and New Zealand by less than seven points, and the 2-0 series win over Fiji provides anecdotal evidence of the team’s upturn in fortunes.
Jordaan, who formally takes over the reins from Australian coach Norma Plummer in January, said the tour proved to the team that they did not have to stand back for more esteemed opposition.
“Just as losing is a culture, so is winning and this tour showed that we can do it we now look forward to playing against them,” Jordaan said. “We no longer have that fear while we do not merely play to keep the score low, we are playing to beat them.”
Jordaan heaped praise on Proteas captain Bongi Msomi and the sharp-shooting Lenize Potgieter, who are both plying their trade in Australasia.
“We have been building for two years and it is great that we are finally reaping the rewards and the fact that six of the seven players who played most of the Quad Series have played their netball overseas is proving to have a positive influence,” Jordaan said.
A growing number of SA players are playing in the semi-professional and professional leagues in England, Australia and New Zealand.
Potgieter recently finished her first stint with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, while Msomi has been lured to Australia after playing in England.
Karla Mostert, who tied the knot over the weekend, and Erin Burger also boast the experience of playing in Australia.
Jordaan said playing in the overseas leagues has been instrumental in instilling a belief in the players that they can hold their own against the best in the world.
“It strengthens the belief knowing they have played against them, and knowing what to expect from them," Jordaan said. “We will have to look at the depth of the squad, and ensuring everyone is on the same level.
“We will also have to look at the age, we will have to think of the future and start blooding some of the younger players so that they can become understudies to the experienced campaigners.”
Msomi said they now faced the challenge of living up to the expectations they have created.
“It is nice to be recognised but (it) brings added pressure as we need to work hard at finding consistency and improving from where we ended,” Msomi said.