JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas highlighted their rise in the global netball ranks, finishing among the top four nations at the World Cup in Liverpool.
They suffered a comprehensive 58-41 defeat to England’s Roses in their bronze-medal match but bowed out with their heads held high.
It was South Africa’s best result at the global showpiece in 24 years, confirming their status as one of the top netball nations on the planet.
The tournament confirmed the rise of South African players’ stocks on the global stage with wing defence Karla Pretorius being named Player of the 2019 Netball World Cup. She follows in the footsteps of the centre Erin Burger, who earned the accolade eight years ago in Singapore.
“I feel very honoured to have been named the best player of the World Cup,” Pretorius said.
“You are only as good as those around you, and the team did so well. Even though we won’t return to South Africa with a medal, I know we all put our hearts and souls into every game in Liverpool and can hold our heads high.”
Norma Plummer, the Australian architect behind the Proteas’ ascendency, sat on the bench in her 50th and final match in charge of the South African team in their game against England.
The coaching icon laid the foundation for South African netball through her direct involvement in the team and the influence she wields around the world. The majority of Plummer’s charges received opportunities to play in the top leagues in Australia, New Zealand and England, where they got to sharpen their skills.
“We came here on a mission with the South African girls, and it started four years ago. In 2015 we took them from eighth to fifth, although we’ve been ranked fifth for a while,” Plummer said.
“Now we’ve been able to jump a hurdle, to make fourth, and that was my mission: to get us into the top four.”
Plummer said the team’s gutsy victory over world No2 side Jamaica was one of the highlights of the tournament and signalled South Africa’s rise.
“The win over Jamaica was amazing for us because we had to get over that hurdle before we could get anywhere,” she said.
“Look, I think we’ve set South Africa up for the future, and I just hope they can keep that going.”
Netball SA now needed to make a decision about who will be able to lead the Proteas to the 2023 Netball World Cup that will be played on home soil in Cape Town.
Dorette Badenhorst appears to be one of the front-runners as part of the coaching staff during this year’s World Cup. South Africa could also further develop rising coaching stars Jenny van Dyk and Dumisani Chauke.@ockertde