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Aussie coach helps take SA netballers up to the next level
- Updated: February 11, 2015
Preparations for the World Netball Championships in Sydney, Australia, in August have stepped up a gear, with most of South Africa’s top netball players taking part in an intensive two-week training camp in Pretoria.
One of the world’s most experienced and successful coaches, Norma Plummer of Australia, joined the new coach of the SPAR national team, Benny Saayman, as they put the players through their paces.
Plummer, who coached the Australian team to victory in the 2007 and 2011 world netball championships, was asked by Netball South Africa to help Saayman to take the elite players to the next level.
‘When I arrived, I found that the players were definitely well below the standard achieved by players in Australia,’ said Plummer. ‘We have been giving them intensive drills and are training them to take responsibility for their actions on court.
‘I have taught them the importance of maintaining their standards throughout the match, because as soon as they let those standards drop, the match is over.’
Plummer said she had seen a marked improvement in all the players since the start of the training camp.
‘The players are also watching each other, and making sure that everyone is playing at the same level. If someone drops the ball or makes a silly pass, the others remind her of the need to take responsibility,’ she said.
‘They having been doing some very intensive netball-related drills aimed at improving their agility and footwork. They are also learning to make decisions quickly and to create different options when the original plan doesn’t work. I think they’ve made good progress and there is the basis of a very good team.’
Saayman, who took over the reins after the resignation for personal reasons of coach Elize Kotze, said she was very excited by the improvement shown by the players.
‘We asked Norma to help us develop our attacking game. Our defensive play is very good, but we need to be more attacking,’ she said.
‘We have also focused on basic netball skills, so that these come naturally, without the players having to think about them.’
Saayman said there was plenty of time before the squad for the World Championships was selected.
‘We have the Brutal Fruit tournament coming up, and that will help all the top players, who will be involved in high-intensity netball over several weeks. Then we will be playing in the European Championships in Northern Ireland, where we will come up against England, who are ranked third in the world. And finally, there is the Diamond Challenge Tournament, where we will play the top African sides, including our perennial rivals, Malawi.
‘All that will help the players to put into practice what they have learned from Norma. I think we have a very exciting time ahead,’ said Saayman.
Picture of the SPAR Proteas netball squad with coach Plummer courtesy of Reg Caldecott