Netball South Africa today announced the launch of the first ever semi-professional netball league in Africa in association with title sponsor Brutal Fruit – a partnership that will run for an initial period of five years until 2019.
The Brutal Fruit Netball Cup adds an exciting new dimension to women’s sport in the country and becomes the sport’s premier domestic competition incorporating 10 teams from all nine provinces. The Cup runs over five weeks and pits the five strongest provincial teams against each other in Division 1 and the rest of the teams in Division 2 within a relegation and promotion system.
The competition starts on May 10 and culminates in the final on June 7. All matches will be staged in the Rembrandt Hall at the University of Pretoria and the matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the competition.
Netball SA President Mimi Mthethwa said the first ever Brutal Fruit Netball Cup was the culmination of hard work and the commitment shown by government – through the Department of Sport and Recreation – towards the fulfilment of the mandate to empower women.
“It ensures that they are also given opportunity to grow in sport and become role models and true ambassadors of the country. Netball is played by the masses and is the only real access to physical activity and engagement for thousands of women and children,” said Ms Mthethwa. “Just like the SPAR Proteas gives these women something to aim to in their sporting careers, so Brutal Fruit Cup will spur a desire to make it at the highest level.”
Ms Mthethwa said the tournament was an incredible platform for the sport and they were humbled by the enthusiasm shown by both SAB, which produces Brutal Fruit, and the Ministry of Sport in creating a foundation towards making the dream of a fully professional netball league a reality.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome SAB to netball. They are a highly respected company and one of the main sponsors of sport and sports development programmes in our country. We are very impressed with the passion they have shown for the competition and we can’t wait to build this into a spectacle for high performance women sport,” said Ms Mthethwa.
SAB’s Executive Director of Strategy & Business Support Ms Yolanda Cuba said the company supports the advancement of women‘s sport as part of its commitment to contribution to society.
“The South African Breweries has a proud sports sponsorship history that spans over five decades and has supported among others, the three national sporting codes of football, rugby and cricket. We believe it is critical that we play a major role in re-dressing the gender discrepancy in sports sponsorship, to ensure that women enjoy a more equitable share of support and are delighted with the opportunity to be part of Netball in South Africa,” said Ms Cuba.
“Sport has played a powerful unifying role within our country, connecting people from every corner and transcending every barrier. We have also seen how sports has helped to bring about socio-economic change in South Africa through hope to local communities and providing opportunities for talented individuals to improve their lives. We hope our sponsorship of the Brutal Fruit Netball League will begin to drive progressive change in women’s sport in South Africa and produce successful heroines and positive role models, as has been done in other sporting codes,” continued Ms Cuba.
Additional partners of the Brutal Fruit Netball Cup include Tsogo Sun Hotels, Gilbert, Mitre, Powerade, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) and Sascoc.