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Cape Town And Netball SA Ready To Host COVID-safe Continental Netball Series

THE upcoming 2021 SPAR Challenge is part of a series of tournaments ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup to be played in Cape Town.

A year ago, professional sport came to a standstill as countries around the world went into lockdown.

South Africa was no exception, as major sporting events, competitions and leagues had to be put on hold with immediate effect as the country went into lockdown on 27 March last year.

Professional sport only resumed about six months later, albeit under strange circumstances with no spectators in attendance, something that’s still in place in terms of lockdown level 1 restrictions.

This week, Cape Town hosts the 2021 SPAR Challenge, a tournament which forms part of Netball South Africa’s preparation ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup which will also be hosted in the Mother City.

The tournament will be played under strict health and safety regulations, in a bio bubble in the CTICC precinct, with all teams, including technical teams, umpires, support staff, media and local organising committee members tested prior to entering the bubble.

Netball South Africa CEO, Blanche de la Guerre says they have experience with hosting events in a safe and secure environment.

We tried it last year with the Telkom netball league in Bloemfontein, where we booked the whole hotel, where players were only allowed to move from the hotel to the playing venue and back. No shopping, no where to go, just to keep everyone safe, so it works.

De la Guerre says there is a lot pf preparation that goes into organising a in a biologically safe environment.

We are obliged to keep everyone safe that we invite to our country, so they had to test before they left their country, tested again after few days and stayed in isolation, so they’ll be joining us in the next few days. The bio-bubble is basically when you keep yourself safe and away from other people.

Blanche de la Guerre – Netball South Africa CEO

She says as Netball SA, they always enjoy and appreciate taking on other African countries. The 2021 SPAR Challenge, which takes place at The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will see Africa’s top ranked netball teams, including South Africa, Uganda and Namibia battle it out.

Uganda is placed sixth in the world, just one below us, so we never underestimate them. Namibia has picked up their netball again. they’re still world number twenty-three, but they had some good results in 2019. So there’s nothin to take for granted, Our players are preparing everyday, twice a day. They’re looking forward to it, you can just imagine how hungry they are to compete.

Blanche de la Guerre – Netball South Africa CEO

Reflecting on the impact lockdown has had on the sport, De la Guerre says their biggest challenge over the last few months was keeping the athletes active. She adds, that with the 2023 Netball World Cup on the horizon, they needed to safeguard the wellbeing of their players.

The 2023 Netball World Cup might sound far away, but it’s not. When you prepare for a World Cup against sixteen other countries, and being number five in the world, our competitors are Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica, we need to prepare basically three years before the time. So we’re explicitly preparing for that competition. Our last competition was in January 2020 against England, says Blanche de la Guerre – Netball South Africa CEO

  • Cape Talk
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