National netball coach Elize Kotze makes her Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow later this month and it’s a chance she’s grabbing with both hands, writes Mark Etheridge.
She leads a side in far more buoyant frame of mind compared to previous GamesÔÇª the reason being that this is a team that will take the court with so much more game time under their collective belts and a far better preparation period than in previous years.
Coach Kotze has just returned home from the national universities championship in Port Elizabeth where she once again ran her eye over the girls in the Proteas set up.
“It will be my first Commonwealth Games and I’m really excited and honoured to be part of such a historical sports event. As for the SPAR Proteas’ preparation, everything is well on track and they all meet the standards and goals set for them,” she told Road to Rio 2016.
Kotze attributes the current upbeat mood to three different factors.
“The Brutal Fruit Cup was a huge asset in allowing the Proteas to have the necessary game time, as well as the USSA tournament. Then I was in PE observing and scouting but also made use of the opportunity to work individually with Zanele Mdodana and Bongi Msomi.
“And then the series against the Scottish was also an excellent opportunity to test combinations and work on our tactical approach as well as sort out the players medically to see if they are all fine.”
At the last Commonwealth Games in India four years ago, the SA side finished sixth as New Zealand, Australia and England stepped onto the podium. Jamaica and Malawi also ended ahead of the girls in green and gold.
“I do believe in always setting realistic goals,” says Kotze, “but also there is the competitive side that believes anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it and obviously do the necessary preparation and hard work.
“So we have a realistic goal that won’t limit us, but we have the ‘dream’ goal or expectation that drives us. The players are ambitious and have worked hard, and are also great characters with their own story and positive contribution to the side.”
In terms of individual players, Kotze is happy at the quality she has been given to work with.
“I’m really excited to be able to work with the 1.90-metre tall Lenize Potgieter. She brings a new energy and dynamic to our goal circle. Obviously the experienced mid-court combination of Bongi Msomi and Erin Burger take the speed and flow we need to the┬á next level. Then the solid defence combination of Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand, with our specialist wing defenders Precious Mtembu and Zanele Mdodana, will ensure the standard of pressure needed to survive internationally.
“Chrisna van Zyl and our gracious captain Maryka Holtzhausen, is an experienced combination that have pulled us through many tough encounters with their accuracy and creative solid game.
“Melissa Myburgh, our versatile young 1.91m competitor, has settled herself as a great impact player and manages the goal attack and shooter position with the same consistency and success.”
Summing up Kotze says: “We are well prepared and will tackle each game with the approach needed. We don’t focus on the goal as such, we are process focused and will take it game for game. We know this is going to be tough and are prepared to do anything it takes to perform to the best of our ability.”
Picture: Reg Caldecott