FAST5 Proteas taking aim at the gold medal
Coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm says the FAST5 Proteas team are aiming to bring home the gold medal from this year’s Fast5 Netball World Series.
Mosoahle-Samm and her charges will be looking to better last year’s results where South Africa reached the final and only lost one match throughout the competition. They lost to Australia, who won the competition for the first time. This was the Proteas’ best finish in the competition since it was launched in 2009.
The FAST5 Proteas have taken part in 10 of the 11 editions and had only gotten into the top four twice, in the 2012 and 2013 editions. In 2012, the team defeated Jamaica and they took home a bronze medal. New Zealand’s FAST5 Ferns have won the competition the most times, securing the title seven times.
The World Series pits the world’s top-six ranked teams in a two-day tournament for the shorter, quicker, and five-a-side version of the game. The Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch, New Zealand will host this year’s competition set for 11-12 November.
South Africa will begin their campaign against England before they face Australia and Jamaica later in the day.
Mosoahle-Samm says the team had a lot to learn on their way to the podium last year, she says these lessons will be important in reaching the gold medal.
“We are hoping to get the gold medal this year. Last year we only lost one game and we showed the world that we are capable of doing this. In our very first final, we have learned better. We have learned better, and we have learned more. Last year was my first time taking the team here and we can only learn from there. We are now much smarter, and we know how the game is played, the technical part of it. It’s very exciting and we are aiming for a gold medal this year,” says Mosoahle-Samm.
The South African contingent, which includes the men’s FAST5 side, travelled to New Zealand on Monday for the competition. The SA men’s side will compete in the competition for the first time this year as they join Australia and New Zealand for the men’s division of the tournament. Sian Moore, Ané Retief, and Danielle Van Nieuwenhuysen only joined the team a bit later in Christchurch.
The trio had examinations at their respective universities. “The team is fine, unfortunately, three of our players were writing exams and they only arrived today (Wednesday). They are also jetlagged; I think they will be affected but we still have to monitor them and give them some time to rest before the competition. But the rest of the team is fine and ready for the competition,” she says.
The Free State Crinums coach stressed the importance of preparations for the competition. Although they had previously planned to play several training matches, the technical team decided to cut that down to only two.
She says it’s important the team stays a closed book to remain as the surprise package of the competition.
“We decided to be a bit smarter this year, we were the medallists last year and everyone wants to play us, not just to practice but to also gauge themselves against us. We are trying by all means to avoid that. We will only be playing Australia, and we are being strategic with that because we lost against them last year. We thought it would be smart to play them in a practice match. We are fortunate that we also have our male team here and we will be playing them tomorrow. We would rather stick to those two so that we can keep our cards closed and not reveal everything to everyone,” she explains.
Following the FAST5 Proteas’ success last year, the national Under-19 side also achieved the same feat by taking a silver medal at this year’s Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago under the guidance of coach Emily Mathosa.
This feat has highlighted the importance of introducing the shorter version of the sport in the country to grow and create a bigger pool of players. Netball South Africa will be launching a national competition in KwaZulu Natal between 3-8 December.
Mosoahle-Samm has praised this move by NSA. “I am very proud Netball South Africa has gone out of their way to make sure that we have a FAST5 national tournament which will be happening in December. We are starting good things with the FAST5. I believe that we need to have that as a competition for us as coaches and to introduce FAST5 to a lot of netball players in South Africa because we are used to traditional netball. FAST5 is a very technical game and the sooner we introduce it in our systems, the better it will be for us,” she added.