The SA U20 netball team stormed unbeaten into the final to be crowned the 2018 champions at the eighth edition of the AUSC Region V Games in Gaborone after winning 61-29 against their fierce rivals Malawi on Wednesday.
The netball girls performed particularly well at this year’s Games, winning all their matches and in the end securing a gold medal for Team SA.
As the netball journey came to an end for Team SA at the Games, team manager Sameshia Esau observed that the team had made great progress.
‘Nerves were high on the first day, we had a training session to get used to the conditions and each other because it was our first time on the court together.
‘Going into our first match, there was a lot of excitement to get on the court and play the game we love. Looking back at the first game against Malawi in comparison with the final match, there was definitely a huge improvement in terms of our play. We trusted each other more and the communication was there,’ Esau said.
‘When we played against Zimbabwe we connected as a team, as we were six down in the first quarter, we knew that we had to make a comeback and quickly. The girls showed grit and character as we managed to win that game by eight goals.
‘The team comprised a diverse group of players and this helped us to bring the gold back home,’ Esau concluded.
On Thursday the netball team makes a proud return home together with the judo and the swimming teams, who had massively contributed to South Africa’s medal tally.
Meanwhile, the athletics team collected an additional eight medals for Team SA on Wednesday as high jumper Yvonne Robson received the first gold medal for the day.
The track and field able-bodied athletes went on to claim another seven medals. Kyle Blignaut won a gold medal in shot put with a throw of 20.90, while Ignatius Marais won silver with a final throw of 18.54.
In the 300m men and women’s events, Ngconde Matwebu and Carmie Prinsloo bagged two gold medals for Team SA respectively, while in the 1500m race, Dias Malebana won silver with a finish time of 3.47.17, and Robert de Villiers obtained the bronze with a finish time of 3.50.00.
Team SA para-athletes will proceed to the finals for both track and field events on Thursday.
In the boxing ring, Lwazi Ngiba won his match in the 52kg category and proceeds to the finals, but this was not the same for Sakhile Hlatshwayo, who lost on points to his opponent in the 60kg category.
Wrapping up the day’s sporting activities, SA’s women’s basketball team won 67-32 against Botswana, while the men’s team played against Angola, who have always been such a challenging team, and lost 41-76.
Moving away from the playing field, Team SA joined in the celebrations of the cultural exchange programme on Wednesday night. This is where all 11 participating countries presented their various cultural performances at the Amphitheatre.
Swaziland opened the show by showcasing their nation’s culture through song and dance, followed by Lesotho with a short play featuring song and dance. South Africa followed after Zimbabwe and proved that they were not only good at sport but also cultural performances.
On Thursday both athletics and para-athletics will continue, the volleyball women’s team will face Angola and the women’s football team will play against Zambia. Boxing will continue and the tennis gold medal event will take place when Team SA face Zimbabwe.
Photo: The SA netball team wearing their gold medals and trophy after being crowned the 2018 Region V Games netball champions, supplied.