The SPAR Proteas conclude their inaugural SANZEA netball Quad Series programme on Sunday, when they take on the world number two team, the New Zealand Silver Ferns, at the SSE Arena at Wembley in London.
The SPAR Proteas will be buoyed by their performance in the South African leg of the series, when they came close to beating the England Roses and lost to Australia by just 16 goals – the smallest margin ever.
The South Africans flew to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, after the biggest netball event ever staged in South Africa, where netball fans were treated to a netball bonanza, with a match between the two best teams in the world, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the matches between South Africa and England and South Africa and Australia.
Head coach Norma Plummer said after the match between the SPAR Proteas and the Australian Diamonds, which the Diamonds won 62-46, that she was ‘quietly pleased’ with the SPAR Proteas’ progress.
“We are in there,” she said. “We’re definitely making progress, although there’s a long way to go.
“The top three teams are fully professional, which makes it easier for them to train together.
“We’re a long way from becoming professional. It took Australia a long, long time before their players were paid. So we have a fair way to go.”
Goalshooter Siggie Burger, who was originally in the squad for the United Kingdom leg of the Series, had to stay at home after injuring her knee, but Lindie Lombard, who was very influential in the SPAR Proteas’ match against England last Saturday, obtained an emergency visa at the last minute and travelled to London with the rest of the squad.
South Africa’s defenders will have their work cut out against the Silver Ferns’ attack, particularly vice captain Maria Tutaia, whose serenity on court belies her determination to win.
South Africa beat New Zealand to reach the final of the netball world cup in Birmingham in 1995, but have not managed to get the upper hand over the Silver Ferns since then. However, the SPAR Proteas are not thinking about history, but looking ahead.
The match will be televised LIVE on SuperSport on Sunday afternoon at the following times and channels;
14:45 England vs Australia on SS6 and Select SA (Channel 210)
17:15 New Zealand vs South Africa on SS6 and Select SA (Channel 210) on this Sunday afternoon.