“Fast, dynamic and relentless.” That’s how coach Stacey Marinkovich describes the current Australian netball side’s style of play.
It’s an ominous prospect for the teams taking on the Aussie Diamonds at the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 which gets under way in Cape Town in less than a month.
Ranked number one in the world, the Australians head into the 28 July to 6 August tournament among the favourites for the title. But they still know they have to be on top of their game to regain the title they last held in 2015, having lost by just one goal to New Zealand in the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 final.
Since then, they’ve gone on to claim Commonwealth Games gold in 2022, but not before losing a group game to Jamaica.
“Australia is a proud netball nation. We know we are going to have to play at our very best at the Netball World Cup,” said Marinkovich, who took over the reins as Australia’s coach in 2020.
“The Australian team is constantly striving to improve and challenge against the best teams in the world.
“Our connection both on and off the court is our strength, and we have a real understanding of what we are trying to achieve together,” she added.
Marinkovich said team preparations are on track and her side are feeling confident. “We’ve had a really targeted approach as we build towards the Netball World Cup. We’re really pleased with how the squad is coming together, and making sure our time together is purposeful.”
While heading into the tournament as 11-time champions comes with certain pressures, Marinkovich believes that’s all just part of the team culture.
“When you’re part of the Diamonds programme, you inherit a successful history. This group of players is really focused on how they can contribute to the Diamonds’ legacy and looks forward to the challenge of taking on the world’s best in Cape Town,” she said.
The last time the Australian netball side were in Cape Town was at the beginning of this year for the 2023 Netball Quad Series which also featured New Zealand, England and South Africa. They dominated that tournament, winning all their matches and emerging with a seventh title.
“The Netball Quad Series in January was incredibly important, both from a performance and travel perspective,” explained Marinkovich.
“We were able to familiarise ourselves with the environment and the courts, and continue our build to Cape Town.”
As for returning to the continent for a first ever Netball World Cup on African soil, Marinkovich reckoned: “It is exciting for the people of Africa, to be able to host and watch the world’s best netballers.
“It provides a great opportunity to showcase the sport in Africa, and we are really excited to experience the magic of Cape Town again this year.
“Netball has a growing reach, and I hope the Netball World Cup will inspire the next generation of netballers in Africa and globally.”
Australia will kick off their campaign with their first Pool A game against Zimbabwe on 28 th July before facing Tonga on 29 th July and Fiji the following day.
Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.
Photo by Skhu Nkomphela