A beautiful Netball World Cup, but what about the Proteas girls? 

The year 2023 might not have been special for the Spar Proteas on court. However, it will go down as ground-breaking for South African netball in general regardless. 

That’s because the country managed to pull off an extremely successful Netball World Cup (NWC). It was staged on African soil for the very first time this year. 

South Africa played host to the 2023 competition at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre from July 28 to August 6. It was the biggest highlight for SA netball. 

 Disappointing performance 

At that tournament, the Proteas were keen to make their own history on home soil, by clinching their first World Cup crown. But in the end it wasn’t to be. 

The Proteas finished their home tournament in a rather disappointing sixth place. This was some way short of their best ever finish, which came back in 1995 in England when they clinched silver. 

It wasn’t what the doctor ordered for Norma Plummer’s girls as they struggled to make a strong impact even with their home fans behind them in Cape Town. 

The 79-year-old Australian had been recalled just months before the tournament to occupy the Proteas hot seat after Netball SA decided to part ways with Dorette Badenhorst. 

And after an unsuccessful World Cup followed by a disappointing 2-1 series defeat by the Vitality England Roses recently, Plummer is set to leave her position once again. 

Successful World Cup 

Nevertheless, the Proteas’ underwhelming performances did little to spoil the overall success of the first ever Netball World Cup on African soil, which exceeded all expectations. 

The event was the culmination of four years of planning by the Netball World Cup’s Local Organising Committee and Netball South Africa. 

Highlights of the event included it having the most successful commercial programme in NWC history with sponsorship sales double that achieved for Netball World Cup 2019. 

The tournament was so successful that it was named the Best Sporting Event of the Year 2023 at the Sports Business Awards 2023 in London. 

“Netball South Africa and the whole continent of Africa embraced this opportunity fully and staged an incredible Netball World Cup, allowing our athletes to perform at their very best,” said World Netball CEO Clare Briegal. 

“The fans in Cape Town brought an unmatched energy into the arenas and fan parks every single day of the competition. The netball families around the world all tuned in via our OTT platform, NetballPass, or on their TV’s showing their support. They made sure we reached a wider audience than ever before, surpassing the numbers achieved at the last Netball World Cup in 2019.”

 Impact and legacy of the World Cup   

The impact of the Netball World Cup extended far beyond the tournament itself with the spotlight firmly on netball this year. This generated increased interest and engagement. The tournament was an opportunity for the sport to shine on a global stage. 

Young girls in Mzansi who see these athletes as role models now believe that it is possible to get to the highest stage like their idols, such as Bongiwe Msomi and Phumza Maweni. 

The infrastructure, which was developed for the tournament, from world-class arenas to training facilities, leaves a lasting legacy for the development of netball in the country. 

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