Retief looking to end the year with Proteas debut
Ané Retief is hoping to end the year with a bang. The goal defender is part of the Spar Proteas squad that will face England in a three-match series to end the year.
The first test between South Africa and the Vitality Roses will take place at the AO Arena in Manchester on 5 December while the other two tests will be held at the Nottingham Arena on 9 and 10 December.
The Free State Crinums player is not new to the national team setup. She has donned the green and gold for the Baby Proteas and the President’s XII at the 2022 Spar Diamond Challenge. This earned her a place in the Proteas tour to Australia early in the year as the team was preparing for the 2023 Netball World Cup. However, she did not make the final team that represented South Africa in Cape Town.
Retief is hoping her inclusion in the team that is in England for the series will finally offer her the opportunity to earn her debut in the senior colours.
“I am super excited. It’s an opportunity to learn from the best and to be surrounded by some of the best in the world, being able to learn and absorb, and if I can get a chance to apply myself and bring my dynamics to the team as well. For me, it’s about getting the experience and using the opportunity. I am very excited about it,” says Retief.
Her first senior national call-up is one of her biggest achievements for this year. However, there are other highlights including being named the best defender at the Spar National Netball Championship in which her side, Mangaung took the silver medal. Johannesburg A were the eventual winners of the competition.
A YEAR OF GROWTH
Retief says this year has been one of growth.
“This year has been a big blessing, at the beginning of the year I went with the Proteas to prepare for the World Cup in Australia, then I got the defender of the tournament at the Spar Champs, I went to New Zealand to represent South Africa there and now England. It’s been a year full of blessings and personal growth. I have had a lot of personal growth in my netball,” she says.
Retief is hopeful that the England run will not be her last run with the senior national team. She, however, understands that staying in the team will take a lot of work and consistency.
“I am looking to solidify a spot in the national team as for now as a training partner I am only getting introduced to it. Also to improve my netball to the max, I want to be the best version of myself that I can be and to contribute to the country. If I am on the court, I want to be an inspiration to other players, that would be the ultimate for me. The best way to do that is being matched up with the best and get challenged by the best, that is only going to bring out the best in you,” she says.
Being part of the FAST5 Proteas at this year’s FAST5 Netball World Series was an exciting opportunity for her. Although the team regressed from their 2022 silver medal finish, the Martha Mosoahle-Samm-led side achieved a top-four finish at the competition that was won by Australia. Retief says being part of the team was an exciting experience.
“The Fast5 was stunning. It is a completely different type of game. People always used to tell me that and I thought no it is the same (as traditional netball) but there are different aspects that you have to look at. You get a little more challenged in your netball self, there are things you have to look at like having fewer players on the court. But the tournament itself is amazing. It’s such a big vibe, the people are so supportive and all the teams are integrated. It's a fun tournament, also the arena we were at was amazing. It was so professional, they treated us like next level (athletes). It was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t replace it with anything” she recalls.
She says although it was challenging to adjust to playing with fewer players on the court, she learnt lessons that she can take into traditional netball.
“It was a bit harder to adjust from the seven players on the court to the five. I am also used to playing seven players on the court because you have to account for a position as well, as a goal keeper or goal defence you have to account for the wing defence as well. It is different tactics going into that and it also strengthens your game in a different type of way that you can apply in the sevens on the court. I am excited for that,” she says.