Australia return to Cape Town tomorrow ahead of the Netball World Cup 2023 (NWC2023) with fond memories of their last trip to the spectacular city.
The Diamonds cleaned up at the Netball Quad Series held at the same venue as this month’s NWC2023 – the Cape Town International Convention Centre – earlier this year.
Comfortable wins in all their matches, against England, New Zealand, and South Africa, saw World Netball’s top-ranked side walk away with a record seventh Quad Series title.
“We were very lucky to experience Cape Town back in January at the Quad Series,” said Australian captain Liz Watson.
“There was such a buzz and excitement around the town for netball then, so to bring the biggest netball event back there is super exciting. The crowds in Cape Town were amazing!”
The Aussie Diamonds are certainly geared up to wow the South African crowds, having dominated the sport since narrowly losing to New Zealand by just one goal at the last Netball World Cup in Liverpool four years ago.
“The 2019 World Cup was so devastating to come so close,” said Watson.
I know how hard this squad and the coaches have worked across the last few years.”
Speaking about what has given her side the edge over their opposition in recent years, including at last year’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where they claimed the gold medal, the captain explained: “[I think it’s] our squad mentality.
“We are very lucky to have such an incredible squad of athletes who push each other every time we are together.
“Even though only 12 athletes are selected for the World Cup team, the success of this team is driven by the standard we have been able to set across the whole squad over the last few years.
“Some of the hardest matches I’ve played in were when we played against ourselves as a squad – it’s the best preparation for us.”
Watson plays both centre and wing attack and is widely regarded as one of the best midcourt players in the game.
“Midcourt is all about providing the goalers with the best possible opportunity to shoot,” she said.
“To do this, midcourters need to be dynamic, fast and have smarts to land on the circle edge and get their goalers into the best shooting position with a great feed.”
Perfecting that skill has led to Watson being handed the Liz Ellis Diamond award as the best Australian netballer of the year on two occasions – in 2018 and 2022.
Having played the sport for the first time when she was 12, the 29-year-old has not lost any of the enthusiasm she felt back then.
“I’ve always loved team sport and being able to play with your friends – and that hasn’t changed at this level,” she said.
“To play for your country is the highest honour and privilege. Nothing beats standing on that transverse line, arm in arm, singing the national anthem.”
Australia will begin their quest for a record-extending 12th Netball World Cup title against Zimbabwe on 28 July before taking on Tonga on 29 July and then Fiji a day later.
“We’re not feeling the pressure, more just excitement. We have confidence in this team and all the hard work that this group has done to get here,” concluded Watson.
Details on tickets and travel packages and more information on the NWC2023 which runs from 28 July to 6 August, are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.