Johannesburg - The 2023 Netball World Cup is on schedule and planning for the sport's showcase event is moving towards a positive conclusion, Cecilia Molokwane – the president of Netball South Africa (NSA) –said on Thursday.
Speaking from the Sandton Convention Centre, Molokwane spoke without hesitation regarding the current status of next year's World Cup, which will be hosted in the country.
“Brilliant,” said Molokwane.
“I can’t be happier than what I am now because we had a World Netball representative come into the country recently - two weeks ago - and she was happy with what she saw.”
Molokwane, who is also on the board of the six-member Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the tournament, revealed that the visit from the newly renamed World Netball had specifically inspected the Cape Town International Convention Centre, which will host the showcase event from July 28 to August 6 next year.
“She came in to check the venue,” Molokwane continued.
“To them, if there is no venue, there are no games basically. They came to check whether the hotels are good for the players and to see if there are other things that need to be done. With World Netball there are certain events that they do with you …
“The key thing is the players should be settled, the players should enjoy what they are doing when they go and compete. They must be very comfortable in the space they are in.”
Molokwane also explained that the next stage in LOC’s plans is to train the tournament's officials, sourced locally – a process that will start in earnest in the coming weeks, and which the president hopes will leave a lasting legacy.
“Our 25-member squad within NSA will be taught a new system that will be used for the first time at the World Cup. They will be trained at the African qualifiers this year in Pretoria.
“(World Netball) will come and train them. We don’t want to import people as we believe that South Africa has got the skills. We (NSA) said to them (World Netball), ‘Come, train our people. You are not going to bring us people from overseas.’
"That is the kind of legacy we want to leave.
“We have appointed the tournament director. The LOC has appointed a lot of positions, so we are actually moving the train to where it should be according to World Netball’s rules and regulations and to their guidelines and timeframes.
“We are on schedule.”
Molokwane spoke these words of affirmation after jointly announcing a new partnership with betting company HollywoodBets.
The two-year deal will specifically target grassroots development, working its way up to the senior national team; and NSA hopes the deal will aid their labour in casting their net further afield into areas where the sport remains untouched and under-developed. The value of the partnership remained undisclosed, but HolluwoodBest' branding will appear alongside NSA at official events.
Meanwhile, Molokwane also revealed that the Telkom Netball League (TNL), scheduled to start at the end of the month in Durban, will continue as planned.
KwaZulu-Natal has been ravaged by devastating floods in recent weeks, but Molokwane insisted that, along with their new partners in tow, NSA will visit the province from April 27 to not only see their professional franchises compete in the first leg of the tournament, but also to help with relief efforts to the tune of R5-million.
Several contracted Spar Proteas will also participate in the tournament, which Molokwane believes will be the perfect opportunity for national coach Dorette Badenhorst to gauge the form and fitness of her core group.
Molokwane said: “Seventeen (of the contracted 24 players) will be playing in the TNL and the coach will be there to watch them closely and see if they perform … it is clearly stated in their contracts, that it is performance that will keep them in the team (and in consideration for the World Cup).”