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Johannesburg, South Africa – The success of the SPAR Proteas at the recent Netball World Cup (NWC) in Liverpool had South Africans talking netball as never before.  At the end of the tournament, the city of Liverpool officially handed custody of the tournament to the city of Cape Town, host of NWC 2023.

As South Africa starts the countdown to 2023, thousands of netballers will gather in Johannesburg next week for the biggest SPAR national championships ever to be held, in line with the determination of Netball South Africa (NSA) President Cecilia Molokwane to make netball accessible to as many people as possible.

Forty-two senior teams and 32 Under-21 sides have been entered for the tournament, which will be played at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from Monday August 5 to Friday August 9.  The finals will be played at the Wits University Sports Centre on Saturday.

The Senior and Under-21 teams have been divided into A and B sections, with nine teams in the Senior A section and eight in the Under-21 A-section.  The B sections have been divided into six groups in the Senior tournament and four in the Under-21 competition.  Matches in the A-sections will be played on a round robin basis, with the top four teams taking part in the play-offs.

Jenny van Dyk, coach of the defending champions, Tshwane, has just returned from Liverpool, where she watched the World Cup and attended coaching courses and she is brimming with new ideas ahead of the championships.

“I learnt so much there,” she said.  “I learnt something new every day, and I will be putting what I learnt into practice during the SPAR National Championships.

“What I have learnt ranges from warm-ups to strategy and tactics.  I think South African coaches are very good at learning from other coaches and then adding their own unique pizzazz.”

Van Dyk said she regarded the Mangaung and Dr Kenneth Kaunda as the strongest opposition her team would encounter.

“Mangaung are always strong – there are many Free State Crinums in the squad and they will be tough opposition.  Dr Kenneth Kaunda did well as North West University in the student championships, so they will also pose a challenge,” said Van Dyk.

Jena-lee Delport is the coach of the Under 21 champions, Tshwane, and said she was very happy with her squad.

“Two of my players have been taken up into the senior team, and obviously, that’s a blow, but several of them played in my Fireballs team and know who I am and how I work.  The others have all been coached by Jenny (van Dyk) and I have worked closely with her,” said Delport.

“I missed the last two SPAR Championships because I was having babies, but I think our biggest challenge will come from Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Mangaung.”