Cape Town will get a taste of what it will be like to host the 2023 Netball World Cup later this year when it welcomes fans and alike to this year’s Quad Series. The competition which will take place in the Mother City for the first time will see the Spar Proteas take on England, Australia, and New Zealand. The World Cup venue, Cape Town International Convention Centre will welcome fans as the country builds up to the first World Cup to be held on African soil.
The competition will also be the first time that the senior team plays against top nations since Australian mentor, Norma Plummer took over the reins last year. Plummer hosted a series of training camps and guided the Proteas to the Spar Diamond Challenge win over Scotland in November last year. Captain, Bongiwe Msomi reckons that the Quad Series has come at the right time while the team is still high from the win and the training camps that were held in Stellenbosch.
“I think it’s a fresh vibe, it’s just setting the tone for us to step up into the next gear and I am saying that because we are following through from where we finished with our camps last year, which was really good. So to know that we are starting the year like this, there’s no other great intensity that you can get than what is going to happen especially in a World Cup year. Having to taste a little bit of what the World Cup might taste like, that is in terms of the facilities that we are going to be playing at, having the fans around, and the top countries coming here. It’s just a great opportunity and if you really want to go (all) out at the World Cup and play some great netball, you cannot ask for a better competition than the actual Quad Series itself. That’s probably one of the best competitions so far,” says Msomi.
Playing the tournament on home soil may be the ace in the sleeve that the Proteas need. South African audiences are used to singing to cheer the team on and in previous times, this has proven to give the players the oomph they need to get over the line against their competitors. Msomi says playing in front of home supporters gives the players a chance to show appreciation to their fans by putting in the best performance possible.
“It definitely feels better. We hosted the Africa (World Cup) qualifiers, a few of the Spar Diamond Challenge, and a few test series at home and they all went really well. I think it’s always great to have people who know exactly the hard work you put in and have the best interest at heart being around. That, to us, is about going out and not doing it for ourselves only but knowing that the people who have spent their time and their money to say ‘we back you all the way.’ To have an opportunity to have your fans, your family, and loved ones around you, you cannot offer a better opportunity than that. That is what is going to happen at the World Cup, so it’s nice to taste how that is going to feel like and also get used to it. The focus has got to be there but you have to be appreciative of the opportunity itself,” she says.
The Proteas have always struggled in this competition against the top four countries in the world. Since the tournament was established in 2016 South Africa have only won twice and they beat the England Roses on both occasions, in September 2017 54-51 and January 2019 48-45. They also came close to beating the Australian Diamonds in a match that ended 54-50 after extra time. Plummer was at the helm of the team during these feats.
The skipper says playing in the final match of the competition would set the right tone for the team leading up to the global tournament in July.
“That would be amazing. I think memories of the Quad Series have been patchy, there have been times when at the beginning it would not be great, and the end of being one of the most exciting games. How about, this time around in 2023, changing things up and playing in that final match and be excited about it? I think it can give us the whole sense of what we are, especially in 2023. We can always go into this Quad Series knowing that whatever has been happening is never set until we put our foot on the court and we actually take on the world. But at this point I would say it’s such a great vibe in the group, people want to play some really good netball but more than that, they want to put in the work and that is what I am excited about. It’s always exciting to see how we do when the vibe is good. I think everyone is pumped and wants to give their all,” she says.
21 January 2023
16:00- South Africa v New Zealand
18:00- Australia v England
22 January 2023
16:00- South Africa v England
18:00- Australia v New Zealand
24 January 2023
16:00- England v New Zealand
18:00- South Africa v Australia
25 January 2023
16:00- 3rd & 4th playoff match