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Proteas face Fastnet

Back from the Commonwealth Games in India, the SPAR national netball team now face an overseas challenge of a an altogether different kind.

The team gather in Potchefstroom from Wednesday to prepare for the World Fastnet Netball Series in Liverpool from 19-21 November.

Just as the condensed Twenty20 form of cricket has changed the face of cricket and attracted a whole new audience, Fastnet is expected to attract big crowds as it is fast, frenetic and furious!

The top six countries in world netball — England, New Zealand, Australia, Malawi, Jamaica and South Africa ÔÇô will battle it out for top honours.┬áThe International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) has devised innovative playing conditions designed to test the fitness, technical ability and tactical awareness of the best players in the world.

Matches are made up of four six-minute quarters with three two-minute breaks, promising an awesome high-energy spectacle. Each team is allowed an unlimited number of rolling substitutions. A rolling substitute can enter the game at any time, as play will not be stopped for the substitution.

Each team may select one quarter as a power play, during which any goals scored will be doubled. Goal shooters can shoot from inside or outside the goal circle, with goals scored from outside the circle being doubled.

The six teams will all play each other over the first two days of the tournament, with the placings being decided on Sunday 21 November.

Proteas coach Carin Strauss is very excited about the tournament.ÔÇ£Fastnet is a very exciting form of netball,ÔÇØ she said.┬áÔÇ£There are not so many delays ÔÇô for instance, the umpire’s whistle will be blown less often than in a standard netball match, and the opportunity for rolling substitutions means you can bring on fresh legs at any time.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I think it will be a very good test for our players.┬áThey have been working very hard on their fitness and fitness will be very important in this form of the game.┬áMost importantly, it will be fun. Netball is already a fast-moving game, but Fastnet takes that to a new level. I also believe the format means that differences between the top teams, like New Zealand and Australia, and countries like South Africa and Malawi will be flattened out a bit.ÔÇØ

Strauss has planned a strenuous programme for the training camp, including fitness sessions, practice matches, sessions in the swimming pool, road-running and ice-baths.