Grieving Buffalo City not on 'target' but declared winners
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Cape Town — The controversial matter of racial targets reared its ugly head on Day 2 of the Spar National Netball Championships at the DF Academy in Bellville on Monday.
The Buffalo City team, which are still in mourning after four members of their contingent lost their lives in a fatal bus accident over the weekend, fielded a team that did comply with Netball South Africa's targets.
Buffalo City, a team from the Eastern Cape province, defeated KZN rivals eThekwini 43-38 in their A section clash. After the match tournament officials discussed the matter of Buffalo City not conforming to the target and were penalised by five points.
Soon afterwards, the tournament committee changed its decision and declared the initial score to be the official final score.
Buffalo City coach Zandile Njeza said the primary goal was for the players to enjoy themselves.
"Our strategy was for the girls to enjoy the game on the court," said Njeza, an experienced coach. "We came here with heavy hearts to this tournament and it has not been easy.
"We played for ourselves, and also for them (the deceased). We wanted to win. The win was much more for them – those that didn't make it here, than for us.
"We are not a team to be taken for granted. We have strong, talented players. We have what it takes to proceed to the next round."
Buffalo City's star goalkeeper Pamela Chukwu said it was important for the team to remain composed and stay with the gameplan.
"I remained composed and went with the flow of the game," said Chukwu. "Going forward we want to go with what the coach asks us to do.
"On a personal note, I have to look out when I can go for the intercept or the rebound.
"We are all here to enjoy the game and we play netball all year round. We have all played in different tournaments."
Well-travelled coach Marguerite Rootman, interviewed straight after her opponents were penalised, said she did not want to win a match by default. She was made aware of the declared result later.
"It does mean (after the penalty) that it is a win for us, but it is not the way I want to win," said Rootman.
"It is not the way I ever want to win a win. We must bear in mind we have targets, and we have to adhere.
"We didn't play well for the last two days."
In Tuesday's other A Section matches, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan proved too strong for Johannesburg A and won 59-41, while Cape Winelands A defeated Cape Town A 53-44 in a Mother City derby.