Cape Town - The Proteas have their best chance in 25 years of winning a medal at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool next month.
South Africa won the silver medal at the world championships in Birmingham in 1995.
Speaking on the eve of the team’s departure for the United Kingdom, head coach Norma Plummer said the Proteas had shown tremendous growth since she started coaching them shortly before the NWC in Sydney in 2015. She said she was quietly confident that they could win a medal.
“The Quad Series (against Australia, New Zealand and England) has been extremely important in helping them to learn to play in pressure situations. In January, we beat England and then went on to take New Zealand to extra extra time,” she said.
“They have learnt to deal with pressure and how to handle uncomfortable situations.”
Plummer said that a number of players had been playing in professional leagues in New Zealand, Australia and England, and this meant that they were used to dealing with pressure situations week after week.
“We have six players in the Suncorp League in Australia, which is the most competitive league in the world. Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni have been playing together for the Sunshine Coast Lightning and have developed into the best all defensive unit in the competition.
“The players who have played overseas have been training every day and playing against some of the best players in the world. They know they don’t have to stand back for anybody,” she said.
“There are five countries that can make it to the top and we are one of them.”
Proteas captain, Bongi Msomi, said the team was very excited about going to a Netball World Cup where they believed they had a chance of doing well.
“We know that we are going to be competitive and we are going for a medal,” she said.
“The game against New Zealand in January has given us a lot of confidence.”
Plummer said South Africa was in the toughest group, but she believed they would do well.
“Our third match is against third-ranked Jamaica, who could be a challenge. But although they beat us at the Commonwealth Games last year, we had been hit by injuries and they definitely didn’t have things all their own way,” she said.
The Proteas fly to the United Kingdom on Thursday and go straight to Wales, where they will have a training camp before playing two Tests against Wales.
“The Wales series is very important,” said Plummer.
“It gives me a chance to assess the players and see what we need to work on, and it also gives the players some match time ahead of the World Cup.”
Plummer said she had been under no pressure from Netball South Africa to select a team according to quotas.
“This is the best possible team. I look for talent, and these players are all very gifted.”
The tournament starts on July 12 and ends on July 21.