The 2023 season of the Telkom Netball League will be bigger. Not only will the competition be the last one before the country welcomes the world for the Vitality Netball World Cup but this year’s tournament will see two new teams being introduced.
The two new teams will represent the Free State and Limpopo provinces.
The Free State Sonoblomo will be joining three time champions in the province, the Free State Crinums while and the Limpopo Baobabs are welcoming the Limpopo Lilies.
The two added teams will play in the second division of the league, while the Eastern Cape Aloes who are the champions of the same division earn a promotion to the first division where KwaZulu Natal Kingdom Stars have been reinstated after being relegated in the promotion match against Aloes.
The competition will go to Limpopo for the first time and the Ngoako Ramahlodi Sports Complex in Seshego, Polokwane will host the first power week of the tournament while the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria, will host the finals of the competition. Netball South Africa president, Cecilia Molokwane says she is excited about the new season.
“We want people to enjoy netball every day. It’s not easy to have netball Monday to Saturday on TV so we are doing, hence the two power weeks, the one starting in Limpopo and the one ending at the Heartfelt arena, and the ones that are coming in the weeks between those, so we can have more netball being played so that people realise that the World Cup is here.
There will be no other time that we can push the World Cup because doing it for eight days is not going to help us achieve what we want. Also, it gives the girls that are in the squad in the country more court time,” says Molokwane.
The competition was launched in 2014 with only 10 teams competition, Gauteng was the only province with two teams.
The league has since grown and now will see 15 teams competing, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo have all since added an extra team.
The competition has been won by only three teams, the Gauteng Jaguars have won it the most number of times, five while the Free State Crinums have been champions three times.
The Gauteng Golden Fireball are the defending champions and have only won it once.
Sponsors, Telkom have also extended their relationship with Netball SA, this will see them being part of the competition until 2026 after first jumping on the league in 2019 after the South Africa Breweries left.
“It means we are doing something right and I am happy that Telkom believes in us. It doesn’t take one or two engagements to renew a sponsorship.
Renewing it with an injection of money because you cannot renew it with the same amount especially now that we are going to have more teams coming in. We are all about selling the game and it becomes exciting but this renewal means that netball is growing and netball is going to go to places that it has never been. It shows other corporate sponsors that they should believe in women’s sports and support them,” says Molokwane.
Telkom’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gugu Mthembu, is happy with the relationship with NSA.
“As proud sponsors of this year’s TNL, we look forward to yet another successful competition and ultimately continuing with the development of Netball in South Africa. Through TNL, we want to continue showcasing the best netball talent in the country, while growing the sport and encouraging South African youth to stand tall through life’s adversities. TNL will provide a platform for all the players and coaches to raise their hands for a chance to make the final Proteas squad for Africa’s first Netball World Cup.”
The minister of sports, arts, and culture, Zizi Kodwa has called for more corporate companies to support women’s sports in order to see more women turn professional in the different sporting codes they participate in.
“I am quite excited, the development of women’s sports is getting shape in South Africa and I think this being the year of women in sports. The only thing we can wish for is to get more corporate South Africa to participate and support it. Telkom has done really well and I hope that in the next three financial years, they will increase their contribution. Corporate South Africa has not supported women’s sports, they have been on boycott for whatever reason. Some of those reasons could be their commercial interest, we must talk to them,” says Kodwa.