As far as season finales go, there will be few to rival the conclusion of the debut MTC Namibia Netball Premier League campaign on a chilly Saturday evening in Windhoek.
The Namibian Correctional Services (NCS) team secured the crown after dishing out a fitting nail-biting 30-30 draw against bronze medallist Tigers, in the final contest of a memorable season that has re-ignited interest in the formerly marginalised code.
Such was the intensity, quality and entertainment value in the engrossing topsy-turvy affair, that the competition’s title sponsors hiked its investment in the code from N$1,4 million to N$1,9 million.
This means NCS will take home N$250 000 next season should they retain crown, said MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo.
Which serves to encourage rivals to up their game, he said.
For now, NCS will have to settle for N$45 000 as a reward for claiming the ultimate honour in the inaugural top flight championship on a goal difference from Mighty Gunners, who pocketed N$35 000 for silver.
Both sides finished with 20 points on the board, however the NCS has a superior basket count. Tigers could have snatched the crown to secure a victory but ended up third on 18 points, scooping N$25 000.
Winning coach Manuel Tjivera said his side was relived to have come through a challenging Covid-19 interrupted season as champions.
“We are very happy. It was not easy but together we pulled through and now we are the first champions of the MTC Netball Premiership.”
In a fiercely competitive encounter, NCS won the first set 9-8, but Tigers wrestled control of the match in the next two sets, winning 13-12 and 23-22.
In the final set, Tigers appeared on course for victory after opening up at a three point gap, only for NCS to come storming back and tie the compelling contest, much to the delight of about 200 supporters who braved the chilly weather at United Sports Ground.
“The game was really competitive. The girls played according to plan and it all worked out perfectly in the end,” Tjivera said.
His counterpart Morné Pienaar was gracious in defeat, saying he could not have asked for more from his charges and that NCS were deserving adversaries.
“It was a wonderful game of netball. The girls performed extremely well. They gave NCS a run for their money. We were the underdogs. But, they [Tigers] ensured it was going to be a walk in the park for them. So, ladies thank you very much for your effort throughout this tournament,” Pienaar said.
MTC initially backed Netball Namibia with a N$3 million sponsorship over three years last year, however, Ekandjo said a budget increase was warranted “following a satisfactory run and ending of the league”.
MTC said the N$500 000 sponsorship increase for next season is explicitly to boost the league’s prize monies.
“… which should now be N$250 000 for the gold medalist, N$150 000 for the silver medalist, and N$100 000 for bronze medalist, respectively,” said Ekandjo.
Ekandjo made the announcement at the league ending ceremony where he congratulated the Netball Namibia leadership and management for the smooth running of the league despite prevailing challenges.
“We therefore wish to congratulate you on ending the first inaugural MTC Netball Premier League successfully. The final matches were indeed mouthwatering. We know that the league might have had some challenges but we are proud that you managed it very well without any disruption or negative publicity,” said Ekandjo.
The relegated clubs were already confirmed before the final round of matches, with Dollar Stars, Golden Girls, Rundu Chiefs and United 12 all going down.
Full results: Namibian Navy 69-25 United 12; Golden Girls 55-31 Rundu Chiefs; Dollar Stars 32-29 Young Stars; Grootfontein 28-32 Rebels; Mighty Gunners 63-19 United Stars; NCS 30-30 Tigers.
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Author : Namibian
Publish date : 2021-10-04 09:22:55