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Men’s netball in South Africa is on the rise

netball03 September 2022 07:56
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Having the senior men’s side participating in its first international competition is a sign that the sport is finally getting the recognition it deserves, hopefully with more countries starting to embrace men’s netball, the sport will soon be able to be added to the Olympic Games roster.

Jabulani Vilani led team are in the Caribbean taking part in the Americas Netball Men’s Championship as guest. They will face St. Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua & Bermuda and Jamaica. The tournament will run from 1-4 September 2022.

South Africa played several matches against the Spar Proteas this year in preparation for the competition, among others and coach Vilani says the team is grateful for the opportunity to play outside of the continent after hosting Uganda and Kenya African Men’s Netball Championship last September.

“The approach is very simple, we want to win. To win all the way. We are ready, we are prepared. We have been training for this for almost six months. We had fitness programs and other assessments for players, checking for injuries and if there are other players who need extra support in terms of training. I am very happy and I am 100 per cent sure that if we work according to plan, the objectives and mandate of Netball SA will be met and we will come up with better result. The mandate is that we must go for gold, we must push for the ultimate results,” says Vilani.

The mentor is pleased with how the sport is progressing in the country.

“Firstly I have to thank the transformation from Netball South Africa, they have brought a huge transformation to the sport. This is the very first time for the males going international and we hope going forward there will be more programmes that will make males to be more involved in netball but for now we are happy with the transformation and we believe and hope that Netball South Africa has plans that will make netball for males more accessible even in rural areas,” he says.

Captain Shiko Mokaila is signing the same tune that the federation is doing well in order to make the sport popular in order to grow participation as well.

“I think as opposed to four years back, the new NSA executive has come through with opportunities for men to be able to thrive. Now with most competitions that are happening, from district to club to provincial and national level, we are able to see more talent coming through and we are quite grateful. Now we are seeing more things happening and they always take us by surprise to be honest. We are excited about this and we know more is still coming. If we can get more club participation, more involvement at community level, we will be able to get grassroots netball coming through especially when it comes to males,” says the skipper.

Mokaila reckons the more the South Africans are exposed to the sport, it will grow organically and more people will also start supporting it.

“Sports is generally about uniting everybody so if people could just get that netball is not just played by females, we need to get more involvement from men, whether as a player, umpire or a coach. We need more males coming into the sport. We are not in competition with our sisters , it’s just about getting a system into place that it includes everybody. I think this country is taking a step in the right direction and we can only cement going forward from there,” says Mokaila.

The skipper who has been playing netball since he was 12-years-old says the relationship between the senior men’s and the women’s side is mutually beneficial as both pick up different skills from one another.

“We’ve got one rule book and the notion is that men play differently and there is nothing like that. It’s only that guys are physical but I will tell you, there are some of the ladies who are more physical than men. But at the end of the day we learn skills from them. When we play it’s all about flair but when we play with them it’s more calm, controlled and structured. We have really taken a lot and I am quite sure that with them they have too, especially with preparations for the World Cup we will be there to assist them,” he says.

SA MEN’S TEAM

Shooters: Luke Moolman, Lutendo Maiwashe, Eugene Sinxezi, Nakedi Nkosi

Mid-Court: Kwandile Sithole, Willie Mtshali, Shiko Mokaila, Muzikayise Mthombeni

Defenders: Lucky Mokoena, Sicelo Gamede, Edward Manyathela, Nkululeko Nkosi

Head Coach: Jabulani Vilani

Assistant Coach: Siphiwe Manyoni