Spar challenge a learning curve – Meyer

• By Michael Uugwanga

DESPITE the country’s senior netball team having failed to win a single match at the just ended 2021 Spar Netball Challenge in Cape Town, coach Julene Meyer said the competition was a learning curve for Namibian netball.

Meyer also said that the result was a sign that local netball has some shortcomings that need serious attention.

Namibia was competing against South Africa’s Proteas, Uganda’s She Cranes and two South African national B teams; the President’s XII, and the under-21 team known as the Baby Proteas.

South Africa won the 2021 Spar Netball Challenge –held from March 24 to 31- after defeating Uganda’s She Cranes 44-32 in the final match.

Namibia was heading into the match having last played a competitive match in 2019 in Singapore where they won the M1 Nations Cup, while South Africa and Uganda had played competitive matches just before the Spar Netball Challenge.

“Playing the top 10 in the world was a wonderful opportunity and learning curve for all involved, it definitely showed the shortcomings in our systems and setups at club, regional and national level. For us to move up, close the gap and excel we need to look at the roadmap of South Africa or Uganda.

“We need to back our team with funding to provide the resources needed in high performance programmes, to provide regular opportunities to participate because that’s how you close the gap by game time,” said Meyer in an exclusive interview this week with Confidente Sport.

Meyer said the only way the country can reach the same level as that of South Africa that is ranked fifth in the world and Uganda now ranked seventh in the world by the International Netball Federation (INF), Namibia needs to have a proper club structure and for the sport of netball to receive enough funding.

“We need to upgrade our club trainings to the levels of intensity expected at international level, assist our umpires and coaches with maximum opportunity to develop and grow to be stronger in the technical aspects, to train the way we need to play, start implementing resources like analysis programmes, provide financial support for athletes to train at the appropriate levels and to ensure at local level we start playing games in nature of high intensity, clinical, accurate, structured, according to game plan.

“We need to create the environment locally which our players need at international level and most of the shortcomings come down to funding and investment in netball and female sport. There are no short cuts in closing the gap, it’s all about the process and the hard yards, our players have all the talent in the world, they need constant exposure and participation to grow as a team in combinations, composure and decision making.

“As a coach I learnt how crucial the value of the local system, local umpires, regular training camps, crucial resources needed for my team to excel. I have a very clear idea of our process going forward, our focus areas and priorities. It was wonderful to benchmark my players against the two styles in world netball because all future opponents will be either the accurate and clinical speed of South Africa or the physicality and unorthodox play of Uganda,” said Meyer.