Having won gold last year in the absence of some of the country’s top teams, the Cape Winelands are confident they can challenge again when the Spar National Netball Championships kick off in Potchefstroom on Monday.
Ahead of the 2021 tournament held in Cape Town, reigning champions Tshwane withdrew from the senior A division after two of their players tested positive for Covid and others showed symptoms, while Mangaung County representatives and Dr Kenneth Kaunda declined to participate due to the lack of university players.
Winelands continued to dominate the tournament, going unbeaten in the pool stages before beating Nelson Mandela Bay 66-54 in the final.
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This week, however, the Cape team face a full-fledged line-up that includes Tshwane, Mangaung, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and host Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.
“Every competition has its difficulties and there are some great players all over South Africa so it will be tough but we are ready to compete,” Winelands coach Nicolene Martin said.
“We’re here to do our best and we want to be competitive, but we don’t feel like we’re under pressure. I’m also excited to see the talent emerging in this tournament.”
Winelands captain Mandy Hermanus was equally confident her team could challenge SA’s top netball teams.
“We have a new team, but we have prepared well and want to give it our all,” Germanus said.
“We just have to make sure we support each other and I’m sure we’ll be competitive.”
More than 1,800 players and 99 teams will take part this week in the senior and under-21 categories across the various divisions, with the finals taking place at the Fanie du Toit sports ground on Saturday.