After winning gold last year in the absence of some of the country’s top teams, Cape Winelands are confident they can put up a fight again when the Spar National Netball Championships gets underway in Potchefstroom on Monday.
Ahead of the 2021 tournament, played in Cape Town, defending champions Tshwane had withdrawn from the senior A-division after two of their players tested positive for Covid and others showed symptoms, while the Mangaung and Dr Kenneth Kaunda district sides pulled out due to the absence of university players.
Winelands went on to dominate the tournament, going unbeaten in the pool stages before beating Nelson Mandela Bay 66-54 in the final.
This week, however, the Cape side are up against a full-strength line-up which includes Tshwane, Mangaung, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and hosts Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
“Every competition has its challenges and there are great players around the whole of South Africa, so it will be tough, but we’re ready to compete,” said Winelands coach Nicoline Martin.
“We are here to do our best, and we want to be competitive, but we don’t feel like we are under pressure. I’m also excited to see the talent that emerges from this tournament.”
Winelands captain Mandy Hermanus was equally confident that her team could produce a challenge against SA’s top netball sides.
“We have a new team here, but we have prepared well and we want to give it our all,” Hermanus said.
“We just need to make sure we have each other’s backs out there and I’m confident we’ll be competitive.”
Over 1 800 players and 99 teams will turn out this week in the senior and U-21 categories, across a range of divisions, with the finals being held at Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds on Saturday.