Puma Proteas aiming for African gold

netball27 November 2023 08:55
By:Busisiwe Mokwena
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Puma Proteas © Netball SA

The Puma Proteas are determined to stay at the top of the continent. The national senior men’s side is one of the five teams taking part in this year’s Africa Netball Cup at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena in Gaborone, Botswana from Tuesday to 6 December.

Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and hosts Botswana are the other countries that will take part in the competition. Zambia were also meant to take part in the competition only to withdraw at the last minute.

This will be the first time Africa Netball hosts a continental championship for men. The tournament will run concurrently with the women’s edition of the Africa Netball Cup which is in its 13th edition. South Africa’s Spar Proteas will miss the competition as they will be in England for a three test series against the Vitality Roses.

Captain Shiko Mokaila says the team only has one mission in Botswana, which is to take the gold medal and stamp their authority on the continent.

“We started this campaign with the qualifiers and we came out tops so we are planning to ‘retain’ the title this year. There is nothing different, we can’t go easy. The mandate was quite clear.

With the other competitions as well, we took our Under-23s to the FAST5 but we only came third. They played with seniors from other countries but it was an opportunity to beef up the young ones. At the end of the day we want to compete with the best in the world and come out tops,” says Mokaila.

Both the Pumas and Proteas are the top ranked teams on the continent. The skipper believes that the growth in the country, which has seen more tournaments introduced for both women and men, has had a huge impact on how South Africa performs on the continent.

“Our systems are paying off. The ladies have the TNL (Telkom Netball League), there’s the national champs and these are the great opportunities that are coming through. In this country, we are exposed to many competitions and it’s thanks to the leadership that they (Netball South Africa) as now.

We are seeing clubs trying to make sure that we turn the sport professional. We need this more than anything. If leaders are taking charge and administrators are doing administration properly, players will follow suit when the environment is enabled for them to be able to strut their stuff,” he says.

Coach Jabulani Vilane has made changes to his squad and only has a handful that took part in the Americas competition in the Caribbean.

Mokaila, Lutendo Maiwashe, Eugene Sinxezi and Edward Manyathela are the only players remaining in the team. Mokaila says although the team is mostly new, everyone is excited about what lies ahead.

“We are excited, even with the newly selected players that are coming through. There are only four of us that have remained since the team started over three years back and now we have new blood that is coming through.

We are having a proper succession, it takes a great succession plan and development to make sure that you’re putting systems in place. We see exactly where we are going with this current succession plan,” he says.

The skipper hopes that men’s netball grows globally. The FAST5 Netball World Series that was held in New Zealand only saw three men’s teams taking part while the women’s edition sees the top six teams in the world competing.

The men’s game also doesn’t have a bigger global competition like the Netball World Cup and the sport is also not an Olympic sport yet even though World Netball has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee since 1995. Mokaila, who was named the Player of the Tournament at last year’s Americas Netball Men’s Championships, hopes to take on the court in more international competition.

“I hope the next Olympics (Los Angeles 2028) we will have teams taking part as netball is currently not an Olympic sport. This would be good for us to get international exposure. I think with the other opportunities that are coming, we are taking steps in the right direction in making sure that we are uniting as continents.

While we are doing that, we saw the FAST5 and now we need more competitions for men so that we can get our guys out there so we can get a different taste with other countries outside of Africa as well,” he says.


Lutendo Maiwashe, Roderick Fredericks, Eugene Sinxezi, Sibongakonke Vava, Shiko Mokaila, Sibongakonke Ngobese, Gavin Peters, Siboniso Magwaza, Scelo Gamede, Vladmir Sefala, Juan Louis Van Der Heever, Edward Manyathela