Baby Proteas to look out for at World Cup qualifiers

netball13 March 2024 14:09| © SuperSport
article image
Karla Victor © Gallo Images

As hosts of the Netball World Youth Cup Africa qualifiers, the South African Under-21 side will be expected to finish at the top of the competition.

The tournament is set to take place from 17-23 March at the University of Pretoria’s Rembrandt Hall. In the last edition of the qualifiers held in Botswana, the Baby Proteas recorded a 100 per cent winning streak and walked away with the gold medal on top of qualifying for the global competition.

Coach Precious Mthembu has selected a team of 12 players who will represent the country and half of that team have already donned the green and gold in other tournaments before.

That experience will be key in helping South Africa do well in the qualifiers and most importantly book a spot in the 2025 Netball World Youth Cup to be held in Gibraltar.

There are four spots up for grabs to represent the continent in the 20-team competition. The global youth tournament returns for the first time since 2017 after the 2021 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Get to know half of the team who have already donned the green and gold in previous competitions...

Jade Atkins - 17 years old

The LaRochelle Girls High School learner is the youngest player in the team. She has however made an impression on national selectors over the last year. Atkins was part of the side that clinched a silver medal at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago after losing to Australia. She had a spectacular 2023 and was named the Telkom Netball Championships overall player of the tournament.

Karla Victor- 19 years old

Victor is a DStv Schools Netball Challenge graduate where she played for C&N Sekondêre Meisieskool Oranje who won the title in 2022. She captained the team to the quarterfinals of the competition. She was part of Team South Africa who won back-to-back gold medals in the 2021 and 2022 AUSC Region 5 Games. The centre- court player was also part of the Fast5 team that won the silver medal at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago. As a Grade 12 learner, she earned the silver medal in the Telkom Netball League with her side, the Free State Crinums last season.

Phopi Nematangari - 19 year old

Apart from clinching the gold medal at last year’s Varsity Netball with UP-Tuks, Nematangari was also voted Player’s Player of the Tournament by her peers. She was also part of the Gauteng Jaguars side who won a sixth Telkom Netball League title last year. Nematangari was also part of the gold medal-winning AUSC Region 5 Games team in Malawi.

Sanmarie Visser - 20 years old

Although her side, North West University, didn’t make the finals of the last Varsity Netball tournament, the goal defender’s impressive performance throughout the competition earned her the Overall Player of the Tournament title following a few Player of the Match accolades. The goal defender has also donned the green and gold with the national under-19 side.

Sunel Smit - 20 years old

Smit is DStv Schools Netball Challenge graduate. Her team, Potchefstroom Gimnasium, won the inaugural competition in 2021. She was instrumental in leading Team South Africa to gold at the AUSC Region 5 Games in 2022. She had an impressive performance in the shooting circle in the final against Zambia to help the team ascend to the top of the podium.

Zané Bodenstein - 20 years old

Bodenstein captained the gold medal-winning 2021 AUSC Region 5 Games side. She also won the tournament in the 2022 edition of the competition. The goal defender is also part of the Stellenbosch University team who won back-to-back University Sport South Africa netball titles under coach Zanele Mdodana. She walked away with the Best Defender of the Tournament award in the under-21 division of the Spar National Championship held in Rustenburg last year.

Participating teams

South Africa