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Durban, South Africa – Supermarket giant SPAR has shown its faith in the biggest woman’s sport in South Africa by renewing its sponsorship to the tune of R35 million over the next four years.

The renewed sponsorship will enable Netball South Africa to continue its efforts to break into the top four in world netball.  South Africa is currently ranked fifth in the world, behind Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica.

Making the announcement at the opening of the annual SPAR national championships in Durban on Tuesday, SPAR Marketing Executive Mike Prentice said the renewed sponsorship was an opportunity to show the company’s support for the women of South Africa.

“Sport provides an exciting platform on which to build our brand and women’s sport presents an excellent channel for this,” said Prentice.

“ The huge majority of our customers are women, and we believe we have a duty to support them in return. Netball provides us with a great opportunity to demonstrate our support for our customers. “

Prentice said the sponsorship would cover netball’s pride and joy, the SPAR national team, future Proteas in the form of the Baby Proteas, the annual national championships and the SPAR Challenge – an annual international series played at home.

“It will also cover the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League, in partnership with South African Breweries, netball development, administration and overall promotion of the game we all love so dearly,” said Prentice.

Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa said NSA was overjoyed at the renewal of the sponsorship.

“We are overwhelmed by the trust SPAR has shown in NSA and for women in sport,” said Mthethwa.

“SPAR shares our vision of women growing through sport. Our partnership has helped us to build the image of netball.  It has also empowered women by developing their skills in management, administration and in the ability to host tournaments.

“Our mother body, the International Netball Federation, has been very impressed by the tournaments we have hosted, saying they are on a par with tournaments in wealthier countries,” said Mthethwa.

“The sponsorship is so much more than just looking after our national team – it is about empowering women in South Africa.”

Thanking SPAR, Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen said the netball players of South Africa would make SPAR proud not just of the way they played netball but of the women they would become.

The extended sponsorship contract was signed in front of the 830 championship participants by Prentice and Mthethwa witnessed by SPAR Group CEO, Graham O’Connor and Netball South Africa CEO, Blanche de La Guerre.

SPAR has been the main sponsor of Netball South Africa for the past 13 years.