Durban, South Africa – Floods in Durban have disrupted preparations for the SPAR national netball championships, which get under way on Monday August 8.
“We were to have played at Hoy Park Netball Centre, but the courts were flooded during the recent heavy rains,” said Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.
“We will be inspecting the courts on Monday, to see if we will be able to play there. We have made contingency plans to find another venue if there has been too much damage at Hoy Park,” she said.
De la Guerre said the championships could not be moved from Durban, because the teams had already booked their transport and accommodation.
The 2016 national championships will follow the same format as last year, when teams represented provinces rather than regions.
“This is a major event on the national netball calendar appropriately played in women’s month and our official opening ceremony will take place on national women’s day. It’s the largest inter provincial championships of any sporting code played at one time with over 800 players representing 39 regions participating” said De la Guerre.
The tournament will have a under 21 section and senior section.
All members of the SPAR national team which will be travelling to New Zealand for the Quad Series against Australia, New Zealand and England, will be playing at the national championships.
“We won’t have a training camp in South Africa before they game, and playing in the national championships will give them much needed game time,” said De la Guerre.
De la Guerre also confirmed that the victorious under 21 SPAR Baby Proteas who this past weekend were unbeaten in the African Qualifiers for next year’s World Youth World Cup would also all be playing in the national championships.
North West coach Dorette Badenhorst will be aiming to repeat her success of a year ago, when North West made a clean sweep of all the titles on offer at the championships in Ugu, near Margate. The senior and under 21 teams was unbeaten throughout the tournament.
Badenhorst has made a habit of winning recently – she returned last month from the World University championships in Miami, where the South African team won gold, after beating Jamaica 43-39 in the final. She followed that by coaching the South African Under-21 team to first place in the Youth World Cup qualifiers in Botswana.
But Badenhorst may not have it all her own way this year. The presence of the SPAR Proteas, who missed the championships last year because they had just returned from the Netball World Cup in Sydney means teams like Gauteng, Free State and Western Province will be back to full strength.