Cape Town - Danlee Matthews, who has held down several coaching positions in South African netball over the past decade, said the inaugural ClemenGold District Netball League was a roaring success.
Last November, the league was launched to give local netball in the Western Cape a shot in the arm. The league is placed alongside the Varsity Cup in terms of development and allows non-students the opportunity to play. Some will be scouted and offered opportunities to play in the Telkom Netball League.
Matthews, who hails from Kraaifontein, coached the Blue Cranes, one of 10 teams that participated in the tournament. The Blue Cranes team were drawn from players from the Southern Suburbs areas.
“This was a great initiative as it was the first step towards a player being identified as good enough to play for the Stings or Tornadoes (in the national Telkom League)," said Matthews, who represented the Proteas at the 2003 Netball World Cup in Jamaica, where South Africa finished in fifth place.
"The coaches from these teams were able to identify talented players from the whole of the Western Cape. You could see the talent coming through our structures.
Matthews said that the tournament was well organised and ran smoothly from start to finish.
"The tournament attracted different levels of players. There was a mixture of top players as well as youngsters eager to make an impact.
"The great value of a tournament like this is that it offers exposure to younger players. They pick up game time, and it becomes a learning experience.
Matthews added that in the big picture the tournament was also a steppingstone for our umpires and technical staff to gain experience in a competitive environment.
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"For the players, it was highly competitive, but they found it to be a fun tournament."
Tournament director Freda Kemp said based on the tournament's success, the event could be expanded from 10 to 12 teams next year.
"It is a matter of building what we have achieved in our inaugural event," said Kemp, the CEO of StellenSport and a seasoned netball official.
"It was tough playing two games on the same day. However, players were given enough recovery time in between with a two-hour break. The playing venue was amazing. The Woodmill Lifestyle Centre in Stellenbosch accommodated all the teams, and players had access to restaurants and coffee shops on their doorstep.”