Netballers size up Samoa | SASCOC - SASCOC

Netballers size up Samoa

The South African netball team will be hoping to grab at least a slice of sporting attention when they take on Samoa in two Test matches this week.

While the national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, have been foremost in South African minds as we host the 2010 soccer World Cup, the Spar national netball team has been hard at work at the other end of the world, touring New Zealand as part of their preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later this year.

They played a number of practice matches, including a match against the Mystics, one of the top teams in the very competitive Australia-New Zealand netball league. The South Africans went down narrowly 51-56 in this clash. They also spent time with former New Zealand coach Yvonne Willering as well as other international coaches, working on their defensive strategies.

The Proteas arrived in Samoa on Monday for their two Tests against Samoa, ranked eighth in the world ÔÇô two places below South Africa.┬á The Tests will give the Proteas an opportunity to put into practice what they learned in New Zealand. ÔÇ£The girls have had a tough programme, but it was a chance in a million in terms of playing exposure,ÔÇØ said Proteas coach Carin Strauss.

ÔÇ£Their sessions with the international coaches have been beneficial, and it will be interesting to see how they put what they’ve learned into practice.┬á The time spent with Yvonne Willering was particularly important — her input was invaluable.ÔÇØ

Strauss said the 12-member squad for the first Test would be announced on Tuesday. ÔÇ£We may make some changes ahead of the second Test on Friday. The players are still competing for places and our challenge is to get the best 12 ready for the Commonwealth Games.ÔÇØ

Team captain Liezel Wium said before the team left for New Zealand that the tour was very important as the Spar squad had not travelled outside South Africa since 2008. “Some of the girls have never been out of South Africa, and this will give them a chance to learn about playing in different conditions. It is also something of a team building exercise, as we all learn to adapt to a different environment,” said Wium.