A new era has dawned for local netball with Netball South Africa announcing a broadcast partnership with SuperSport, which will begin in 2013.
The initiative, which was driven by the Honourable Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, sees NSA partner with SuperSport in a bold move to give netball the prominence it deserves.
“This truly is an auspicious day for South African sport, particularly women’s sport,” said Minister Mbalula, who has delivered on his pledge to elevate netball, SA’s largest female sport with an estimated two million participants, “The announcement of this deal is very encouraging as it is a strong indication that we are putting in place the building blocks of the Netball Professional league. This milestone announcement is groundbreaking and must prove to the world that we are serious about the development of netball and women in particular and that we are on track to start the league in April 2013.”
SuperSport has secured rights to all netball played in South Africa in the next five years on all broadcast platforms in Africa and adjacent islands.
The World of Champions, which covered eight matches during the recent international Diamond Challenge, will broadcast international and Premier League matches live.
Focus of live coverage will be around the Spar Proteas and the Netball Premier League. SuperSport will also broadcast a magazine show that will feature all forms of netball from grassroots through to national events and teams.
Mimi Mthethwa, president of Netball SA, was delighted with the five-year deal, “I have always said that netball is the sleeping giant of South African sport. Finally, the sport can take its rightful place alongside the major codes. This is a red letter day for netball and I look forward to the sport being energised.
“NSA’s objectives are to surround ourselves with the best stakeholders and help them become an even more professional organisation both on and off the field. SuperSport obviously fulfils this objective and will present us in the best possible light.”
The ultimate objective is for the sport to be competitive on the basis of the Premier Soccer League, rugby’s Currie Cup and SA domestic cricket.
In line with Minister Mbalula’s commitment to schools netball, young players will now be incentivised to play the game on a professional basis, unlike in the past.
Equally, the intention is for South Africa to be on a competitive footing with the likes of superpowers New Zealand, Australia and England and not lose talented players like Irene van Dyk and others to overseas teams, as occurred in the past.
Commenting on the partnership, SuperSport CEO Happy Ntshingila said it firmly aligned with SuperSport’s intention to place the spotlight on women’s sport.
“With its massive numbers and competitive nature, netball has much going for it. We hope that with our broadcast investment we can help take the sport to another level. We are delighted that netball is now part of the SuperSport family.”
The broadcast rights include the national regional championships, club championships, Fast Net Series, Netball Mania festivals, national schools championship, university championship and national youth clinics.
A key strategic focus will be coverage of netball across the African continent through SuperSport’s DStv mediums.