JOHANNESBURG – A weekend of action awaits the Proteas netball team when they go in search of World Cup glory in Liverpool.
The team has made massive strides in recent years closing the gap between and the top-four sides in the world thanks to their participation in the Netball Quad Series.
They step onto the court for their opening match against Trinidad and Tobago tonight confident that the 2019 edition of the global showpiece is their best chance in two decades of returning with silverware.
The Proteas could not have asked for a better build-up since the last World Cup with legendary Australian coach Norma Plummer moulding her team into top-class performers.
Plummer’s influence around the world has opened doors to South Africa’s top players to gain valuable experience playing in the top leagues in Australia, New Zealand and England. South African netball is richer for it with a host of current players playing under the best coaches in the world and going up against the top talent on the global stage every week.
Names like Bongi Msomi, Karla Pretorius, Phumza Maweni and Lenize Potgieter are revered around the world and are among the standouts for the overseas teams they represent.
Now it is time for them and their fellow countrywomen to channel these successes onto the court against the top global sides.
The team will open their campaign against Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji tonight and tomorrow respectively before they face their sternest test against the world’s number-two side, Jamaica, on Sunday.
South Africa have finished fifth on four occasions in 1999, 2003, 2011 and 2015 at the last five World Cups, while placing sixth in 2007.
Plummer’s team is brimming with world-class players that should not be burdened by the failures of previous teams at the showpiece.
The Australian is considered one of the best coaches in the world, leading her nation to two World Cup gold medals in 2007 and 2011.
The Proteas highlighted their potential earlier this year when they beat England in London for the first time in 19 years with a 48-45 victory in the Quad Series.
They gave New Zealand a fright, but ultimately lost 62-60 after the match was decided on golden goals at the end of extra time.
Msomi said the team can take confidence in the growth they have shown over the last four years. The Proteas have a settled look with the core of the team playing together for the majority of the Quad Series matches against Australia, England and New Zealand.
“It takes a while for a player to grow in all aspects the amount of time we have had as a team to correct things has allowed us to say we can go out there and compete,” Msomi said before their departure for the World Cup.
“We’ve got what it takes, not just performance wise on the court but also off the court. I am very excited, we’ve worked hard, and Norma also has her plans. So, look out!”@ockertde