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SA’s netballers prepare for Fast5 and furious action
- Updated: November 6, 2014
The Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand will see frenzied action over the weekend as the world’s top six netball countries fight it out for honours in the Fast5 netball tournament.
The SPAR South African Fast5 team opens its account with a match against Australia on Saturday morning. SA also play England and Jamaica on Saturday, with the matches against Malawi and New Zealand scheduled for Sunday.
As its name implies, Fast5 is a high-speed version of netball. Each quarter lasts only six minutes, and stoppages are kept to a minimum. Each team has only five players on court, which means there is more space to move the ball around. The coaches are allowed to give instructions to the players from the sidelines, and rolling substitutions are allowed throughout the match.
One of the most exciting features is that goals can be scored from outside the circle, and goals scored this way will be worth three points. Goals shot from the outer zone are worth two points, and goals from the inner part of the circle worth one.
Each team selects a quarter as a power play quarter, when the value of goals scored is doubled.
South African coach Elize Kotze says Fast5 is very tactical, with quick decision-making by the coach and the players of crucial importance.
‘Fast5 is very unpredictable, and we believe we are capable of doing very well in this tournament,’ she said.
‘Our shooters have been working hard at trying to score from outside the circle, and we are confident that we will be able to score quite a few three-pointers.’
One disappointment for the organisers and for the South African team is that Silver Ferns mega-star Irene van Dyk has been ruled out of the tournament by a back injury.
Forty-two year-old Van Dyk was a member of the South African team that won a silver medal at the world championships in Birmingham in 1995. She later emigrated to New Zealand, where she became a household name, representing her adopted country from 2000 until earlier this year. The most famous player in the world had planned to make her swan song in the Fast5 Series.
Kotze, who was also part of the 1995 medal-winning team, said she was bitterly disappointed that Van Dyk would not be playing this weekend.
‘I am in frequent contact with Irene, who has maintained her love for South Africa,’ she said. ‘It would have been such a privilege for us to have played against her in her final tournament. But she is still going to be there as an adviser to the Silver Ferns, and I know our players are looking forward to meeting her and to talking to her.’
In the picture, coach Kotze speaking at the pre-departure media briefing. Picture credit: Reg Caldecott