Netball World Cup 2023: An Opportunity for African Teams
Thandi Galleta of Malawi (right) and Karin Burger of New Zealand in a 2023 World Cup warm-up match in Cape Town. Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images
The Netball World Cup, the largest women’s sporting event globally, is being hosted in Africa for the first time. The tournament takes place in Cape Town, South Africa, from July 28 to August 6, and four African teams have qualified: Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. This event carries significant implications for South Africa and the growth of netball in the continent.
The State of Netball in Africa
The presence of the tournament in South Africa reflects the growing popularity and development of netball in Africa. While historically more prominent in countries with Commonwealth ties, netball’s appeal has been spreading across the continent. African nations have made significant strides in improving netball infrastructure, coaching, and player development programs, making them more competitive on the international stage.
However, only six African countries have participated in previous World Cups, with the majority from southern Africa. This indicates that there is still room for growth and expansion of the sport across Africa.
The African Teams
In the current world rankings, South Africa is the top-ranked African country, followed by Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. African teams have become more competitive due to increasing interest in the sport and investments in player development. South Africa, Malawi, and Uganda have been strong contenders in previous tournaments and have the potential to cause upsets against more established netball nations.
Based on these rankings, most of the African teams should reach the top eight placements in the tournament. South Africa, with its home ground advantage, has the potential to go all the way.
Importance of Hosting for South Africa
Hosting the Netball World Cup is important for South Africa in several ways. It showcases the country’s ability to organize and host major sporting events, boosting its reputation as a destination. The event brings economic benefits through increased tourism, media exposure, and infrastructure development, while also fostering a sense of national pride.
This event also contributes to changing perceptions of women’s sport in South Africa, following recent successes in women’s football and cricket. It promotes gender equality and encourages support for women’s sport.
Impact for Cape Town
As the host city, Cape Town experiences direct benefits from the Netball World Cup. The influx of visitors, athletes, officials, and media leads to increased economic activity. Additionally, the event can leave a lasting legacy by enhancing local sport facilities, inspiring the younger generation to take up netball, and encouraging community engagement in sport.
Promoting Netball in Africa
The Netball World Cup provides an opportunity to inspire the growth and development of netball across the continent. As the biggest women’s sport in South Africa, it is anticipated that the excitement of the tournament will encourage its expansion in other African countries. Sport and physical education also promote social cohesion and provide a platform for discovering and nurturing sporting talent.
The Netball World Cup 2023 is not only a chance for Africa to triumph on the international stage but also to unite communities and boost women’s sports in the continent.
Kamilla Swart, Associate Professor, Hamad Bin Khalifa University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.