Spar Proteas defensive to critique

The Spar Proteas’ trajectory to the top table of netball has hit a bit of a speed bump. The lustre of 2019 seems to have faded as they battle against three of the top four-ranked teams in the world at the Vitality Nations Cup in England.

Since becoming African Champions, the team looked to be on the way to higher honours but a series defeat to England in late 2019 and two defeats at the Nations Cup against Jamaica and England have allowed for doubts to surface.

The maturity that is attained with growth evaded the Proteas in crucial moments against Jamaica.

Former Gauteng Jaguars coach Jenny van Dyk felt that the South African side opted for champagne netball without securing the victory.

“In my opinion we lacked discipline in the key moments that could change the tide. It doesn’t always have to be pretty, but it must be effective,” van Dyk said.

“In key moments we need to keep the possession and get all goals from gains at all cost,” she added.

Against England, the Proteas looked to go back to the basics, be more decisive and push the Roses from the start of the game, which they failed to do when England came to Cape Town last year.

The players came out firing, pressurising England from the first throw and even taking a lead into half time. The concentration seemed to falter along the way, however, and in the third quarter,
they struggled to contain England and the Roses’ attack proved too much for the South African backline.

After the defeat to Jamaica and a third loss to England in four games, the New Zealand game on Friday takes on a whole new meaning.

Van Dyk believes that winning these games would help acquire better knowledge about the side, which combinations work and the way forward. It’s also an opportunity to see how the Proteas measure up against the best, with the Silver Ferns current world champions.

“All these games are important. The balance between testing combinations under pressure and establishing a competitive, lasting, winning culture is crucial for all the top teams in this new phase. The sacrifice needs to be worth it. But that is easier said than done,” Van Dyk said.

The elements of this squad came together very well at the World Cup under Norma Plummer, but right now, creating the completed product seems some way off.

Since Dorette Badenhorst took over as the head coach, she won the African Championships, but has won only a single game since.

The transition from Plummer to Badenhorst is a topic that is taboo in the Proteas camp and they were unwilling to discuss this further with the Mail & Guardian. In fact, the Proteas refused to answer any of this newspaper’s questions, deeming them not sufficiently positive.

Van Dyk believes it is unfair to compare the situations of Plummer and Badenhorst. “People are quick to forget that Norma did not change things overnight, it took time and patience,” she said.

“What we could focus on is bundling the small gains just like Norma did until we reach a snowball effect. Norma decided to keep an experienced and already existing starting line up and could use that from the start to build on. This is not the case this time around,” van Dyk added.

For now, the seemingly thin-skinned, smiling Proteas will … stay positive?

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

Related stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘Each generation must open doors for the next’ — Desiree Ellis

Desiree Ellis has a deep understanding of the development of women’s football in South Africa. The Banyana Banyana head coach talks to Luke Feltham about how the women’s game has changed over her 40-year career

Linton Kwesi Johnson gave poetry back to the people

The 2020 winner of the PEN Pinter Prize, LKJ’s poetry puts the ignominy and hardship of the black experience in Britain front and centre in words that echo across the decades

Proteas have much to prove

The netball team want to show last year’s success was not fluke when they take on world’s best

Sport audit 2019: How SA’s national netball team performed

The Proteas reached the World Cup semifinals and were named the sports team of the year

Netball’s Waka Waka is loading

Despite good progress, African teams prepping for the 2023 event lack professional exposure

Netball is shining on court but still struggling off it

The hindrance of progression comes from the lack of recognition it gets externally

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday