While the annual event has been pushed back by four months and has been moved across the country, Tshwane head coach Jenny van Dyk is pleased her players will get a chance to defend their title at the Spar National Netball Championships starting Monday.
The six-day domestic showpiece, which had been scheduled to be held in Stellenbosch in August, was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, while health and safety protocols also required the event be shifted to Bela Bela.
With the Gauteng Jaguars having won the Telkom Netball League (TNL) in October, Van Dyk was relieved to see some of Tshwane’s top players bouncing back to form.
“Overall the team has been doing great and we’ve had enough time to prepare after the TNL,” Van Dyk said.
“A lot of our players either played for the Jaguars or the Fireballs and they did get quite a lot of game time.”
Van Dyk also looked forward to giving other players a chance to get back on court at the end of a disrupted 2020 season.
“The TNL players had a run on court, and that was great, but a lot of the girls here have not played a single game of netball this year,” she said.
“So I’m just excited that we get to play netball, even if it is in December.”
After winning the senior and U-21 finals against Dr Kenneth Kaunda at last year’s national championships in Johannesburg, Van Dyk hoped Tshwane would produce another dominant performance this week.
“As defending champions I think it’s our responsibility to set the standard,” said Van Dyk, who missed last year’s championships after falling ill on the eve of the event.
“We also respect the teams we’re playing against and we want to give our best in every game.”
Tshwane captain Marlize de Bruin believed they had the ability to handle the expected heat throughout the week.
“Obviously it’s going to be very hard, but we have prepared well,” De Bruin said.
“We train outdoors, so we’ve equipped ourselves mentally and physically to play outside in the heat.”
Some Eastern and Western Cape teams had been prevented from entering the national championships, due to health and safety regulations in their regions, and it remained unclear how many teams would arrive by close of registration.
“They wanted to be here, but the situation in their provinces won’t allow them,” said NSA president Cecilia Molokwane.