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The SPAR Madibaz Netball Tournament continued to reach new heights when it attracted another strong entry at the south campus in Port Elizabeth this past weekend.
With as many as 80 sides now competing in the event, it was extended to three days for the first time, culminating in victory for the Nelson Mandela University premier women's team.
Madibaz Sport netball manager Melinda Goosen was complimentary about the standard of play, with a men's team from Johannesburg adding an extra edge to the proceedings.
"The standard and level of play was definitely higher this year," she said.
"It was a great men's division final played between the top male team in Nelson Mandela Bay [Phoenix] and a Johannesburg-based outfit [JCNC]."
In addition, she said, the Madibaz teams received excellent preparation for the season.
"Our women's teams finished in the top two in four of the five divisions, which is a sign of great strength for the coming season.
"It is still early days, but we were very happy with the results and have a strong base to build on."
Besides the senior teams, Goosen said it was encouraging to see the younger generation in action.
"There were sides from various schools around the Eastern Cape, including Kingswood from Grahamstown, DSG, Framesby and Collegiate High, as well as Volkskool, all the way from Graaff-Reinet.
"It is great to have these schools teams enter. It gives them excellent competition against older players in preparation for their season. Framesby, in fact, came second in the women's A section."
She added that the tradition of the event over many years had transformed it into the most popular tournament in the Eastern Cape.
"But the great thing this year is that teams entered from outside the province's boundaries, which shows the growth of and interest in the tournament.
"Underpinning the success of this event is the support from our loyal sponsors, SPAR.
"Through their efforts in mobilising suppliers to also back the tournament, it has been possible to create extra avenues through entertainment and prizes for the participating teams, leaving them all very happy.
"We have to thank companies such as Noorsveld Chickens for the lovely braai packs, The Beverage Company for keeping the officials hydrated, HelloFoods for prizes in the schools section, and SAB for the entertainment and refreshments at the entertainment area."
The results were:
Schools: U18: Framesby; U16: Collegiate
Women, A section: 1 Madibaz A1, 2 Framesby High; AR section: 1 Phoenix Fireballs, 2 Phoenix Flames; B section: 1 Aloes, 2 Madibaz B; C section: 1 Madibaz C1, 2 Blue Jays; D section: 1 Lovers Lane, 2 Madibaz D1
Men: 1 JCNC (Johannesburg), 2 Phoenix

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