The thrilling and violent side of Fast5 netball: A case study
In a whirlwind of netball excitement at the FAST5 Netball World Series, South Africa’s journey unfolded with twists, turns, and unforgettable moments. The second and final day brought highs and lows, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
The anticipation was palpable as South Africa, riding high on confidence from a previous victory against Jamaica, faced New Zealand in the opening match. The initial quarter showcased South Africa’s prowess, with stellar defense and pinpoint shooting propelling them to an 11-6 lead within the first six minutes.
However, the netball narrative took an unexpected turn in the second quarter. New Zealand emerged transformed after the break, rewriting the script and seizing control of the game. Despite South Africa’s persistent efforts, they couldn’t maintain their early lead. The Silver Ferns claimed victory with a final score of 41-33.
The standout performer of the match, Shannen Bartlett, earned the coveted Player of the Match accolade, underlining her crucial role in the fast-paced contest. The disappointment for South Africa was evident, but the spotlight shifted to the next challenge.
The SA FAST5 Men’s team entered the arena against the formidable New Zealand squad. A display of high-speed prowess characterized South Africa’s gameplay, yet unforced errors and communication lapses among players proved to be decisive factors. Though South Africa claimed victories in the second and third quarters, they fell short in the closely contested match, concluding with a score of 38-31 in favor of New Zealand.
Vukile Zulu, captain of the SA FAST5 Men’s team, reflected on the experience, emphasizing the valuable lessons learned by the under-23 team. “We have learned a lot as a team,” Zulu remarked. “This is great for us and for the future of Men’s netball in South Africa. We now know where and what we need to improve on going forward.”
The netball drama continued in an all-Africa affair as South Africa faced Malawi in their second match of the day. The stakes were high – the winner would secure a slot in the bronze medal playoff against England, who had already secured their place.
The first quarter unfolded as a scrappy battle, with both teams committing unforced errors and struggling to convert scoring opportunities. In a low-scoring affair, South Africa edged ahead, leading 4-3 at the end of the first quarter.
The dynamics shifted in the second quarter, with both teams aggressively pursuing opportunities. Towera Vinkhumbo’s standout performance for Malawi, however, thwarted South Africa’s advances, earning her the Player of the Match title. Despite the challenges, South Africa emerged victorious with a final score of 37-31, securing a second encounter with England in as many days for the bronze medal playoff.
Reflecting on the team’s goals, Jeanie Steyn expressed a desire to reach the finals and build on the standard set in the previous year. Acknowledging the challenges posed by a young team, Steyn remained optimistic, stating, “This was good because we will build from here.”
The climactic final match of the weekend pitted South Africa against England, both teams vying for a coveted medal. The intensity was palpable as each team played like their lives depended on the outcome. Despite a valiant effort from South Africa, it was England that emerged victorious with a 30-22 win, clinching the bronze medal.
Martha Mosoahle-Samm, reflecting on the series, expressed pride in the team’s performance and the overall growth of the game. “I am very proud of the girls,” Mosoahle-Samm said. “They showed up – they performed. The positives that I will take from this series are how well we performed, the growth of the game, and how well we did as a team.”
In conclusion, South Africa’s journey in the FAST5 Netball World Series was a rollercoaster of emotions, showcasing resilience, determination, and the highs and lows inherent in competitive sports. As the team reflects on the lessons learned and the strides made, the future of netball in South Africa appears promising, with a young and dynamic team poised for greater achievements.