North-West University: NWU hosts biggest Spar Netball Championships ever

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One thousand eight hundred participants and officials. Ninety-six teams. One North-West University (NWU), hosting the biggest Spar Netball Championships ever.

The Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds almost could not contain all the netball talent from 8 to 13 August, and the NWU once again proved that no tournament was too much for it.

The top teams competed in the Senior A division, battled in the under 21 championship, and a multitude of teams took part in various subdivisions.

“The championships progressed excellently and the players enjoyed them a lot. The sang as they walked to the courts. It was really something to see. We also received very positive feedback from former national players who now serve as commentators,” says Heléne Botha, manager of female sport on the NWU’s Potchefstroom Campus and president of North West Netball.

The spectacular opening ceremony set the pace for the tournament, with Amira Willighagen from the Hoër Volkskool Potchefstroom kicking off the proceedings on a high note. This 18-year-old soprano, born in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, made the headlines in 2013 when she won the talent competition, Holland’s Got Talent, at the age of nine.

With every stand on the main rugby field of the Fanie du Toit Grounds packed and an enormous South African flag spread across the field, Amira captivated the audience with her rendition of the national anthem. She concluded the opening ceremony with an unforgettable performance of My African Dream.

“I am glad to see how netball is growing in our country. South Africa may not have had the best showing at the Commonwealth Games, but that is part of the growing process. Just look at how the sport is developing in rural areas. These teams may not win many games, but the interest is there. The excitement is there and that is good for the sport,” says Botha.

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