World Cup dreams lie in Table Mountain’s shadow

Henry

What could possibly be as impressive as Table Mountain on a bright sunny day?

For local sports fans, the answer to the above question can actually be quite simple: Protea netball success, of course!

The World Cup netball tournament starts in Cape Town in just over a month and according to striker Ine-Marí Venter, the South Africans have been persuaded to make their fans proud.

Pressure cooker situation or not.

“It is indeed a big task that awaits the players and coaches – there has already been a lot of buzz in the media about our home court advantage and possible podium chances. Yet it is something we all look forward to; we really want to do well,” Venter told RNews.

In the same breath, the presence of a player’s parents, friends and family next to the track should also clip the wings of the nervous butterfly a little.

Venter has shown before that she can handle the pressure of an important moment in a match. As one of the Proteas’ goal circle sharpshooters – along with Lenize Potgieter, Lefébre Rademan and co – she possesses the necessary skills to shine when the spotlight shines at its brightest.

According to the 28-year-old player, the close bond among the Proteas can also play a decisive role in the tournament.

“When you walk into the Protea camp it feels like you are visiting your family. We are a group that wants to play well for each other and that relationship will definitely carry us through this World Cup.”

It is precisely the esprit de corps among the South African players that means that personal goals give way more easily to joint team dreams.

“Now – more than ever before – we will have to be at our best for each other; regardless of what your involved role is in the team. I want to be ready when the team needs me.”

These days Venter plays her club netball in England for the Saracens Mavericks and although things didn’t always go according to plan, the team was able to end things on a high note with a solid performance against the London Pulse.

The South African is struggling with a minor ankle injury that she suffered in the very match, but she gave the assurance that it will have no influence on her preparatory work for the international spectacle.

“As a team, we are good enough to leave our mark on the World Cup tournament. We have the players, coaches, medical team and supporters. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but it’s a challenge that excites us.”

The South Africans’ World Cup campaign officially begins on July 28 with a match against Wales.

Maybe, just maybe, a South African World Cup dream will become a reality in Table Mountain’s shadow.

Protea squad for World Cup: Khanyisa Chawane, Izette Griesel, Phumza Maweni, Bongi Msomi (captain), Owethu Ngubane, Refiloe Nketsa, Lenize Potgieter, Karla Pretorius (vice-captain), Lefébre Rademan, Nicola Smith, Jeanté Strydom, Nichole Taljaard, Elmeré van der Berg, Shadine van der Merwe and Ine-Marí Venter.