“We’re supposed to feel the pressure,” Gauteng North coach Jenny van Dyk said yesterday.
“This is what we do and what we prepare for, so we’re definitely ready.”
Last season, players in the national squad were not released for the tournament, due to commitments in the Diamond Challenge four-nation series between South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia. This week, however, all the players in the national team are available, and while van Dyk expects strong challenges from Mangaung Metro and last year’s losing finalists Central Gauteng, she predicts it will be a wide open competition.
“Everyone has got their Proteas back, which will lift the standard immensely, so we’re really looking forward to this.
“It’s strength versus strength.”
Gauteng North captain Rozanne Matthyse said the players were eager to shine at the annual tournament, which starts in Phokeng, outside Rustenburg, today.
“We’ve got a winning culture in our team,” Matthyse said.
“This is the only tournament for some of us, who are not in the national team, to show what we can do.
“We’ve been working all year for this and we’re not leaving here without gold.”
With the Proteas scheduled to play a three-match series against England in September, Netball South Africa president Mimi Mthethwa said the six-day national championships would give players an opportunity to break into the squad.
“We have a core group of Proteas players that we’re working with,” Mthethwa said.
“We would like to keep that core group together as much as possible because it has worked for us.
“But the coach (Elize Kotze) might be looking for key players in certain positions, and we’ve given her and the selectors the green light to scout for talent.”
There are 12 teams, split into two groups, in the A-section of the tournament, with another 15 sides challenging for the B-section title and 21 more competing in the C-section.