Labuschagne’s star is rising
Shane Labuschagne’s star is rising.
The goal shooter started the year with a stellar performance at the men’s senior Netball National Championships where he helped his side, Ekurhuleni senior team, win the gold medal. He was further named the Best Shooter in the tournament for the Under-23 division.
His performances throughout the year drew the attention of national team selectors.
He became part of the first South African men’s side to take part in the FAST5 World Series in New Zealand.
The 2022 edition of the Series saw three countries, New Zealand, Australia, and England, participate in the first men’s edition of the competition in an exhibition, this made World Netball decide to continue the feat.
Instead of England, South Africa were invited to the 2023 edition.
Although the FAST5 Pumas lost both their matches against eventual winners, New Zealand and Australia, Labuschagne continued to be impressive on the court.
Watching both his mother and sister playing the sport sparked the interest in the young Labuschagne.
When he saw a mixed game of Action Netball in Vanderbijlpark he knew that this was the sport for him.
Labuschagne reckons 2023 is one of the best years in his netball career.
“It’s quite scary because I feel like this year has been a standout by far. There are so many tournaments I have played in where I did very well. I am over the moon, it feels so surreal saying this but there will be plenty more tournaments that will come. I think this is only the beginning because male netball is only starting to kick start now,” says Labuschagne.
He was named player of the match in their opener against the FAST5 Net Blacks and further awarded the Fans’ Choice Player of the Series accolade.
He says he didn’t think his performance would capture the attention and adoration of many fans as he was an unknown on the international platform.
“I did not expect it because there are so many famous players, they already have made a name for themselves. It was a massive opportunity for me to get that, I didn’t expect it but I definitely feel the pressure because in the future I would like to withstand and keep on having a great impact on the netball court. Hopefully, I can do that but it is honestly going to be hard because there’s a lot of competition,” he says.
The youngster says experiencing netball at an international level was an eye opener.
He says he hopes this will lead to World Netball creating more competitions for the men’s game.
“It was amazing even though the traveling was exhausting. The tournament itself was huge. There were so many people watching and all the viewership from around the world. It was a massive opportunity to play there. There are a lot of people who have been talking about us, calling us the sleeping giant of male netball. I think we inspired a lot of people in the two games we played. During those two games, we showcased brilliant netball and I think that will help us build more competitions in the future and see us participating in more tournaments,” he says.
“This is a massive opportunity for me to go and represent South Africa at this global event, it is important for us, male netballers, to be able to showcase our talents and to be there for the young ones coming up. We must be able to inspire them because most of us didn’t have those people growing up. It’s important we lay the foundation now,” he adds.
DREAMING OF THE OLYMPICS
Although men’s netball is growing in South Africa and a few more competitions have been introduced including the Twizza Netball Club Championships and the Rea Bapala Males Netball Festival, Labuschagne reckons having a league competition will also play a big deal in building a following for a game in the country.
“I think we need to have tournaments like the TNL because they attract a lot of people and I think if males participate there that would help grow the game tremendously. Everybody loves watching males play netball and what better way to invite them as well? It would be a spectacular event if they can do that.
I have heard that Cecilia Molokwane has mentioned they want to start TNL for males as well, I think they are trying to work on it. I definitely think, without a doubt, successful if they start implementing that for males as well. I think we need more sponsors. Years ago Spar came in and sponsored the men’s team but along the lines they withdrew their sponsorship. I don’t know which other sponsors were there though, males netball then took a dip and now it’s starting to pick up,” he says.
The North West University player hopes to be on court long enough for netball to become an Olympic sport so he can represent South Africa at a high level.
“I would like to see males netball in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, I would love to participate in those before I retire one day. At least I am still very young and I can still have a chance to do that. It’s only a matter of it will be successful or not but I think it will happen in the future,” he says.