Gideon Sam, president of SACOC, speaks at the launch of Team South Africa's Commonwealth Games kit. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - The Gauteng Jaguars made it back-to-back triumphs in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in a month when Netball South Africa’s 2023 World Cup bid has gained momentum.

SASCOC President Gideon Sam recently endorsed the bringing of Netball’s biggest global tournament to South Africa and Africa for a first time, and the response from several cities has been equally supportive. All bids have to be formally handed in by the end of June, with New Zealand - bidding to host the World Cup for the fourth time - among South Africa’s strongest challengers.

Sam said women’s sport had always been a priority in South Africa: "We believe that if we host this, netball will grow in the country. But let’s be patient as this (bidding) process goes through the process. SASCOC is 120% behind the Federation."

Government sources confirmed an appetite for the country to support Netball’s historic first bid. The sources echoed Sam’s view of process being adhered to, in terms of government protocols and the hosting of international events, but all indications were that the government is as committed to turning Netball’s World Cup dream into a reality. The key to any bid will be how Government and the proposed host city combine their efforts to provide financial guarantees.

Buffalo City’s response to news of the bid has been immediate and the most emphatic, but from a tourism perspective it is expected that Cape Town will make the most ideal host city for the two-week tournament, which would feature the game’s 16 best international teams. Netball’s World Cup requirement is for the tournament to be exclusive to one city. Projections are that bringing the World Cup to one of South Africa’s premier cities would be a R2.5 billion economic cash injection.

Sam was insistent in advocating what hosting a World Cup of Netball would do for women's sport in South Africa. He said the Premier League competition was also another indication of the power of sport to unite communities, in creating heroes but also in participation.

He teased that he would like to see his home province’s Aloes (from the Eastern Cape) break the monopoly of success from up north but defending champions, the Jaguars, proved their quality in a thrilling final with a 49-47 win against the Western Cape Southern Stings. The University of Pretoria’s Rembrandt Hall played host to a final that showcased the depth of South Africa’s talent.

Cape Times

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