News 24 – The vote for SA to host global netball spectacle lifts grieving NSA president Molokwane’s spirits

When Cecilia Molokwane ascended the Netball SA (NSA) high office in November 2017, her long-term plan was to develop a world-class national netball venue as part of the legacy of her four-year tenure.

She’s been at the helm for just over a year, and her administration has achieved more than it dreamed of following last week’s announcement by the International Netball Federation (INF) that NSA had been granted the rights to stage the 2023 Netball World Cup.

However, Molokwane described the past few weeks as a “bittersweet” time in her life as she lost her husband last month.

“It was really a bittersweet moment for me. I am dedicating the 2023 World Cup to my late husband, who was among those who always believed in my crazy dreams,” Molokwane said.

The charismatic administrator wore black at the announcement of the hosting rights in Cape Town on Thursday. She struggled to hold back tears of joy when delivering her acceptance speech.

The widow said: “Winning the bid lifted my spirits – netball is well on course to turn professional in this country.

“It is also about Africa because we are going to capacitate the continent in terms of coaching and the construction of facilities. Even the corporate world can see that we mean business. We are glad government stepped in to help us realise our dream. And who doesn’t want to associate themselves with the winners?”

Investment in infrastructure was expected to contribute to the lasting benefits of the host city, Cape Town. Already, the national and provincial governments have undertaken to help construct 30 netball courts in the four years leading to the World Cup.

It was South Africa’s strong legacy programmes that swayed the hosting rights in its favour over New Zealand, which has hosted the global showpiece three times already – in 1975, 1999 and 2007.

Molokwane said coming through the ranks – first as a player, then a coach and now as an administrator – had helped her to elevate the sport in the country.

In terms of the costs for organising the 2023 World Cup, NSA chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said the total budget was set at R88 million.

But she indicated that the figure could go up if there were unforeseen expenses in the build-up to the tournament, which is estimated to generate R2.5 billion in projected income.

“We need to reflect profits as per the requirement of the INF,” De la Guerre said. “We are so used to working with a small budget that we are looking forward to better profits.”

By comparison, the New Zealand federation had forecast a budget of about $15 million (about R144 million) to host the event.

De la Guerre said cost-cutting measures were taken into consideration to maximise South Africa’s chances of generating good profits.

“We decided on the Cape Town Convention Centre as the venue for the games because there are hotels around it and this will limit the costs of transport.”

Even the training courts would be within close proximity.

De la Guerre said the profits would be split as follows:

  • 25% to the hosts;
  • 55% to the INF; and
  • 20% to the competing nations to help with their expenses.

Experts doing the economic impact study on the 2023 World Cup forecast that more than 100 000 visitors would visit Cape Town for the 10-day championship.

De la Guerre said she had already received calls from some of her contacts in Australia and Singapore, who indicated that they were “looking forward to holidays in Cape Town in 2023”.

This, she said, was a good sign that Africa’s first global netball championship was on course to attract international visitors.

“There will be significant direct spending through the purchase of merchandise, tickets, travel rebate costs, accommodation expenses and fans visiting local tourist attractions.”

Now that South Africa had signed the agreement to stage the 16-nation tournament, a hosting fee of R3.7 million was needed by next month.

England is hosting this year’s World Cup. The Proteas will be one of the competing nations in Liverpool in July.

South Africa will become only the second country after England to host World Cups in football, rugby, cricket and netball.

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