On Tuesday, 14 September 2021, Netball South Africa officially opened the 2021 Males International Netball Tournament at Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria. The tournament includes three African countries namely, South Africa, Uganda and Kenya. South Africa is represented by the South African netball team, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and Action Sport. It is the first time that Netball South Africa hosts an international netball tournament for men and has extended the invitation to DCS.
In 2018, the Department of Correctional Services entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Netball South Africa. The primary objective of the MoU was to promote netball for both females and males within DCS and also to build capacity by tapping into Netball South Africa resources so that DCS can get exposure at the national netball standard.
Ms Cecilia Molokwane, the President of Netball South Africa, during her address at the opening ceremony of the tournament said netball is non-discriminatory and embraces men for who they are, and not what they are. She said netball sees no colour, height, religion or culture. The five-day tournament is not open to spectators because of COVID-19 regulations and it is set to end on Saturday, 18 September 2021.
“We are grateful to the partnership that we have with Netball South Africa and we appreciate the invitation for our national team to participate in the international tournament. Sports activities are part of our DCS culture because they are a fragment of our wellness programmes. We must start ensuring that we bring back sport activities in our centres. For the Men’s netball team, the ideal should be to have a member from all management areas and regions so that we have a national team that is inclusive and represents all centres. I invite all officials to play a role in the men’s netball team and other sporting codes. Today proves that we are able as DCS and we can excel in sports,” said CDC: Human Resources, Cynthia Ramulifho.
Acting Director: Employee Wellness, Sandile Mthembu, said all members of the DCS national men’s netball team participating in the tournament were tested for COVID-19 on arrival before the opening of matches, as part of COVID-19 regulations for all participants. “It is good news to know that all our team members tested negative. All participants from the represented countries had to go to a three-day quarantine prior to the day of the opening,” he said. Mthembu encouraged officials to vaccinate so that when sport is fully revived in the DCS and opportunities such as these come, it is easier for the Department to select teams. He further said that the Department has started an awareness campaign on sports compliance that relates to COVID-19 in the regions and their respective management areas. “Every Departmental sporting code in all the management areas should have a Sports Compliance Officer, trained and equipped so that we minimize COVID-19 infection rate in our activities,” he added.
Ms Manaledi Dilae, a wellness desk official at DCS who also serves as a Director for Demarcation at Netball South Africa, said the DCS Men’s Netball team is not new in the Netball South Africa championships platform. She explained that the platform is where talent is recognised. She mentioned that the Department is also looking forward to seeing its team members selected for the South African National Netball Team.
The President of the DCS National Netball teams, Khanyisa Zulu from Leeuwkop Management Area, Gauteng Region, said netball had always been seen as a female sport and initially men were very hesitant to participate in the game. However, the few that came to the party will hopefully help attract more young men to go against this norm. Teboho Booi a member of the DCS National Male Netball team and a correctional official from Kokstad Management Area, said he had been playing netball for ten years before he joined the Department. As a sports enthusiast, he particularly joined the netball team to encourage young officials that it is doable. He said his management area has experienced players, and they have already started grooming young players who will carry on the baton when they no longer can.