Netball SA need to set things right in 2024 and stop shooting itself in the foot

Amber Coraizin of South Africa during the Fast 5 Netball World Series play off for 3rd and 4th, England V South Africa, Wolfbrook Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand

Netball South Africa are the guardians of the game in South Africa and are ultimately to blame for everything that goes wrong under their watch. Picture: John Davidson/

Published Dec 18, 2023


Netball South Africa closed the year 2023 with the news that Australian-born Norma Plummer will step down as coach of the national team.

Plummer was appointed in November last year, eight months before South Africa would become Netball World Cup hosts for the first time in July and August 2023.

It was a bright move by Netball SA to recruit the vastly experienced Plummer after she enjoyed tremendous success in her previous stint. She steered the Proteas to fourth place at the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, England.

Sadly, on home soil at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Proteas finished a disappointing sixth even though the target was a podium finish. The Proteas finished the year in fifth place on the world rankings.

International spotlight

South African netball was in the international spotlight during the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town. A few days into the tournament, there was an outcry after television footage of empty stands at the NWC emerged. It came to light that it was the result of exorbitant ticket prices.

It was felt that the organisers should have provided members of the local netball community with tickets to attend the games. A few days later, complimentary tickets were made available to former players and other netball luminaries.

There were also some horror stories of fans who bought tickets online at exorbitant prices like over R2000, and they arrived at the venue to learn that the real value of the tickets was R700.

There were also stories in the foreign media about hundreds of pre-paying Australian fans who bought tickets only to turn up each day without an allocated seat and then assigned random ones wherever there was space.

Netball South Africa are the guardians of the game in South Africa, and this organisation started the process of hosting the World Cup for South Africa, once they secured government permission.

They are ultimately to blame for everything that goes wrong under their watch, and it remains to be seen what action will be taken against them for the sad situation that prevailed.

Netball South Africa enjoyed tremendous support from the City of Cape Town as soon as the national government agreed to rubber stamp their effort to win the World Cup rights. No other province came forward to support their bid.

The City of Cape Town had done an outstanding job with the fan park outside the match venue, the International Convention Centre in central Cape Town. Every day, the facility was jam-packed, and the fans had a whale of a time.

Forming a professional league

The biggest challenge facing national netball in the future is the formation of a professional league. The outgoing coach Plummer has said a professional league will raise the standard of play in the domestic arena. That in turn, will strengthen the Proteas.

Another matter that will enjoy priority over the next few days is the appointment of a new national team coach.

It is cause for concern that Netball SA have decided the new coach must be South African, rather than choosing the best qualified available coach.

South African sport should no longer shoot itself in the foot by choosing coaches on the grounds of colour, nationality, or gender.

Netball SA's selectors would do well to remember that the national teams include the country's best players, and they deserve to be coached by the best. They have no regard for irrelevant criteria such as colour, nationality or gender.

IOL Sport

* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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