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Seven teams will be competing in Division 2 during the 2021 Telkom Netball League from 5-12 September in Pretoria and 9-17 October in Rustenburg. We caught up with the captains who will be looking to lead their teams to netball glory.

Eastern Cape Aloes
Captain: Jody Vorster (Jody Vorster will be participating in her third TNL, having made her debut in 2019. In 2020 she ended as one of the top shooters in the competition with a 82.0% goal percentage)
Vice-Captain: Yandiswa Makasi

Kingdom Queens
Captain: Fezeka Sondzaba (Fezeka Sondzaba is one of the veterans in the competition, having appeared in the inaugural league in 2014 for the Kingdom Stars. She captained the Queens to a second place in last year’s Division 2)
Vice-Captain: Leah Sim

Western Cape Tornados
Captain: Sasha-Lee Petersen (It is a second campaign for Sasha-Lee Petersen with the Tornados having played for the Stings between 2015 and 2019)
Vice-Captain: Melanie Von Gunten and Rieze Straeuli

Mpumalanga Sunbirds
Captain: Maryke Coetzee (Maryke Coetzee won the Premier League with the Crinums from 2014 to 2016. It is her eighth consecutive appearance and the third one with the Sunbirds. She also led the team in 2019)
Vice-Captain: Palesa Mbukwana

Northern Cape Diamonds
Captain: Ninelle Jordaan (Ninelle Jordaan returns to captain the Diamonds, having not played last year. She will lead the Diamonds for the fourth time. In 2019 she finished as one of the top shooters with a goal average of 84.7%)
Vice-Captain: Nthabiseng Hottie

Limpopo Baobabs
Captain: Nthabiseng Mothutsi (Nthabiseng Mothutsi will lead the Baobabs for a second consecutive year. She first appeared in the 2017 TNL. In 2014, as a 19-year-old she won the SPAR National Champs with Gauteng North)
Vice-Captain: Theoner Mthombeni

Eastern Cape Comets
Captain: Juanita van Tonder (At age 19 Juanita van Tonder will be the youngest captain in the tournament. She will debut for Comets. She was a member of the Madibaz team in Varsity Netball 2021)
Co-Captain: Qamisa Jonas

How has your preparations been for the upcoming TNL?

Jody Vorster (Eastern Cape Aloes): Individually the players have been training hard to be in top shape for TNL. We have had a few training sessions that helped the team to become one. Each player has been working on what they needed to work on to become the best version of themselves for the team.

Fezeka Sondzaba (Kingdom Queens): It’s not been easy at all with the COVID restrictions, but we always find a way to keep fit and prepared. With KZN Netball, we’re making sure that we are on point and ready.

Sasha-Lee Petersen (Western Cape Tornados): So great! We started working last year, after the 2020 TNL competition. Everybody bought in and worked hard in the off season to prepare for this year’s TNL.

Maryke Coetzee (Mpumalanga Sunbirds): Unfortunately, due to the COVID-restrictions we did not nearly have the amount of training sessions that we would have liked, however when we did, it looked promising. The players took the responsibility into their own hands by training hard on their own to ensure that we are ready for this TNL. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s tournament has in store for the Mpumalanga Sunbirds.

Ninelle Jordaan (Northern Cape Diamonds): Preparations have been difficult with COVID protocols, [because of players] who live far and other netball tournaments in between, but we have made full use of all our opportunities.
Nthabiseng Hottie (Northern Cape Diamonds): Our preparations have been good this year compared to last year, we had a lot of time to train together as a team.

Nthabiseng Mothutsi (Limpopo Baobabs): We have worked extra hard to ensure that our minds are prepared more than anything. We have the talent, and working on making sure that each and every one of us believe in ourselves have been a top priority. The training was very hard but that’s where we win the game.

Juanita van Tonder (Eastern Cape Comets): We only had a few trainings together as a team, but we had enough training together to get to know one another on court and to build connections and make them strong enough to perform well as a team. Each individual player has put in a great effort towards their personal fitness which contributes a lot to the team’s performance.

What will your team be looking at improving or implementing at this year’s TNL?

Jody Vorster: Patience and precision is very important for us. We need to be more patient with the ball and then placing that ball into the right hands. We want to be sure that each ball that we get into our hands, will become a goal. As the Aloes we strive to be consistent and to always aim for the golden medal as individuals and as a team.

Fezeka Sondzaba: Firstly, playing our hearts out each and every game, to display a beautiful game of clinical and good netball and mostly show each and every team we come across what we’re actually made of on that court.

Sasha-Lee Petersen: Looking at last year’s competition, a big factor in our team was court time, and we had more time to improve that this year. Consistency throughout the tournament is also important, seeing that we are playing in a bubble. We will also be taking it game for game.

Maryke Coetzee: A team cannot be successful without teamwork, we will focus on never giving up, to work hard and play consistent. We strive to reach our personal and team goals by playing to our team’s strengths and supporting each other.

Ninelle Jordaan: Our goal is to come together as a team, focus on the basics then the rest will fall into place.
Nthabiseng Hottie: We are looking at improving everything in the team from the attacking to the defense side, and there’s a lot of things that we as a team would want and like to implement this year.

Nthabiseng Mothutsi: We are looking at moving from the position we finished on last season to a higher and better position. Playing beautiful netball is going to be everyone’s highlight.

Juanita van Tonder: We as the Comets team are very honoured and grateful to be one of the new teams competing for the first time in this tournament, therefore we just want to give our very best every time we step out on court, just to enjoy the new tournament and all the new experiences, and to measure ourself to the already participating teams.

Who are you personally, and your team looking forward to facing on court?

Jody Vorster: We are so happy to have another Eastern Cape team, the Comets, in our league. Playing against them will definitely be fun and challenging. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and the winner will be determined by who can implement their skills the best. All the other teams is also always a bonus to play against.

Fezeka Sondzaba: We are ready for every opponent we will come across, at least it’s our second time in the competition and we understand the games’ intensity and what is expected from us. We are a team that is made up of very young athletes and it’s only our second season in the competition.

Sasha-Lee Petersen: I am looking forward to playing the Aloes and the Sunbirds and I am sure my team is too.

Maryke Coetzee: There is a few teams we are looking forward to play, it is very clear that teams and their dynamics have changed quite a lot, but so did ours.  After our last match against the Queens that we won but got disqualified. I am definitely looking forward to facing them again.

Ninelle Jordaan: We always know that matches against the Aloes are going to be a challenging, so we are looking forward to that. And personally, it will be my first time playing against the new teams, so I am excited about those matches.
Nthabiseng Hottie: Me personally I would say the Aloes, and as for the team I think the Aloes or the Sunbirds.

Nthabiseng Mothutsi: Bring them all. We are ready and hungrier than ever!

Juanita van Tonder: My team and I are definitely looking forward to playing against all the teams in our division, but we are mostly excited to play against the KZN Kingdom Queens and our very own other Eastern Cape Aloes team.

What does it mean to play in a national tournament like the TNL?

Jody Vorster: It is such a privilege and joy. Being able to compete at this level is a great opportunity to challenge yourself and to showcase your talents and skills. I always think of life before I step onto court, all the ups and downs as well as my most loved people at home helping me to become the player that I am today.

Fezeka Sondzaba: It is always a privilege to participate at such a level. We get exposure especially the young ones that still need to be seen by some varsity teams and get scholarships. It is where NSA identifies great talent, we even get exposed to international level. It’s always an honour to wear your provincial colours and represent your province.

Sasha-Lee Petersen: Honestly, being in a pandemic and having an opportunity to play a national tournament, especially TNL, means so much. This tournament is an opportunity to play against the country’s best players and it’s an opportunity to grow and showcase your talent.

Maryke Coetzee: I am thankful to all the role players and sponsors that provides players with this amazing opportunity to represent our provinces in such a prestigious tournament, it is truly a great honour. It provides players with a platform where they can compete against the best.

Ninelle Jordaan: For me as a player in the TNL it is an opportunity to compete against and measure up against the best players from the other provinces. And as a coach and teacher it is an opportunity to show my players that if you put in the effort, you can get there no matter where you come from…
Nthabiseng Hottie: Personally, it means a lot, because not everyone can be selected to play for the national team, so getting the opportunity to represent your province in a semi-professional netball tournament like the TNL and showcase your talents, it is an honour and a privilege…

Nthabiseng Mothutsi: Playing in the national league means a lot, so being here is definitely a privilege, more especially doing it while representing and wearing the badge of your hometown on your chest.

Juanita van Tonder: I am beyond grateful to be playing in such a big national tournament, and to be playing alongside and against all the amazing talent that will be there. I’m very excited to work with my co-captain Qamisa Jonas and learn a lot from our coach Wendy. I’m very grateful to be doing what I love on such a big platform and it’s just an absolute honour to represent my province. I’m truly humbled by the greatness of God.

Thanks for the chat ladies and all the best of luck for the 2021 Telkom Netball League.

The 2021 TNL will be played 5-12 September in Pretoria and 9-17 October in Rustenburg in biological safe environment with no spectators allowed. Selected matches will be broadcast on SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv Channel 209)see fixtures.