Head coach Norma Plummer (right) speaks the team. Picture: EPA/PAUL MILLER
Head coach Norma Plummer (right) speaks the team. Picture: EPA/PAUL MILLER

Barely a day after minister of sport Tokozile Xasa pledged R5m towards the formation of a national women’s soccer league‚ Proteas netball coach Norma Plummer has reiterated her call for the introduction of a professional league in SA.

The Proteas are in Liverpool to take on England‚ New Zealand and Australia in the Quad Series‚ where they are outsiders simply because their rivals all have established professional leagues in their countries.

England boasts the Super Leag ue‚ New Zealand players compete in the ANZ Premiership while Australians have the Suncorp Super Netball League‚ where some South African players have been invited to play.

England are the reigning Commonwealth Games champions‚ New Zealand are the World Cup silver medallists and Australia the reigning world champions‚ while SA are placed fifth on the International Netball Federation (INF) rankings.

Last weekend the Proteas lost 62-45 to the Australian Diamonds in round one of the Quad Series despite leading at the end of the first quarter.

“I think we played reasonably well against Australia‚ particularly in the first half‚ because we took it right up to them. But what has to be understood is that Australia have a full-time daily training environment and SA doesn’t have this‚” said Proteas coach Plummer.

“I have just five days to get them together while the Australians have camp after camp with their team together. They also play in a full-time professional national league where players are professional athletes who do not have to work. Australia are the world champions and SA are ranked fifth.”

Improvement needed

The series continues this weekend with the Proteas scheduled to play England and New Zealand in the second round. Plummer said her team needed to improve on key performance indicators (KPIs).

“We’ll be looking at ways to achieve those KPIs on Saturday and Sunday. Last time we played England‚ we were within three goals of beating them.

“England and New Zealand are like Australia because of their competitions. They have 14 rounds‚ plus finals‚ while SA doesn’t have a national league at that standard. It really has to come if they are to compete.”

Several of SA’s players‚ such as captain Bongiwe Msomi‚ goal defence Karla Pretorius and goal shooter Lenize Potgieter‚ have gained valuable experience playing in the Australian‚ New Zealand and England leagues.