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Though she has some giant shoes to fill and she carries the weight of a nation, as South Africa prepares to host the next Netball World Cup, new Proteas head coach Dorette Badenhorst has both the experience and the credentials to carry the hefty load. Unveiled last week as the replacement for Australian native Norma Plummer, Badenhorst is facing a stiff challenge in an attempt to ensure continued progress within the national team. After taking over the SA side in 2015, Plummer lifted the Proteas one place to fifth in the world rankings. And while their lengthy podium drought was...
Though she has some giant shoes to fill and she carries the weight of a nation, as South Africa prepares to host the next Netball World Cup, new Proteas head coach Dorette Badenhorst has both the experience and the credentials to carry the hefty load.

Unveiled last week as the replacement for Australian native Norma Plummer, Badenhorst is facing a stiff challenge in an attempt to ensure continued progress within the national team.

After taking over the SA side in 2015, Plummer lifted the Proteas one place to fifth in the world rankings.

And while their lengthy podium drought was extended at major international championships during her tenure, she guided the national side to the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 24 years before stepping down from the post in July.

While the legacy left behind by Plummer may be intimidating, however, Badenhorst has climbed the ranks through her impressive career and she has deservedly been given a shot.

She is not the only local coach who would have been considered for the role, but few will argue the decision made by Netball South Africa, with the national federation giving Badenhorst its full backing along with her new assistant coach Dumisani Chauke.

"The national team has been on the rise for some time, and we want to make sure that we keep up the pace and momentum, and for that to happen we needed to make sure that whoever we appointed could get us exactly that," said NSA president Cecilia Molokwane.

A former coach of the national junior and student teams, Badenhorst is perhaps best known for her six-year tenure in Potchefstroom between 2012 and 2017, where she ensured the local top-flight sides produced consistent challenges in every domestic competition.

She guided the North West provincial team to the national title in 2015, and while they did not lift the crown, she took the North West Flames to the semifinals of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League every season between 2014 and 2017.

She also led the Pukke university team to the Varsity Cup title in 2015 and 2016, and she guided them to five medals at the annual SA Student Championships.

While she was based in the province, five North West players – Nadia Uys Pienaar, Kifiloe Tsotetsi, Elsunet du Plessis, Renske Stoltz and Sigi Burger – earned their first Proteas caps.

Making a surprise decision last year, Badenhorst cut ties with North West and signed with semi-professional team the Gauteng Golden Fireballs.

And while she admitted it had not been an easy decision, the move to Joburg was made for personal reason.

"A number of (North West) players asked me to stay involved, but for once in my life I thought about myself and my family," she said at the time.

"My parents aren't getting any younger and I don't get to see them as I'm always busy with netball."

In recent years, Badenhorst was a prominent member of Plummer's management team, learning from the two-time World Cup winner in her role as the Proteas assistant coach.

Now, having been promoted following the departure of her esteemed predecessor, the 47-year-old coach hopes to use all she has learned in an attempt to carry the national team to new heights.

In her first assignment with the national side, the Proteas are set to compete in the Africa Netball Cup in Cape Town later this month, and they will close out their season with a Test series against England, also to be played in the Mother City, next month.

Having made significant strides over the last few seasons, the Proteas will be looking to cement their place among the contenders in the build-up to the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town.

And provided she receives the support and resources required to prepare the team sufficiently, Badenhorst's influence will be key to their chances of making a charge for the podium.

Despite the pressure she faces, her new post is the fulfilment of a career goal, and Badenhorst is eager to tackle her latest challenge with the same commitment which has helped her climb the ladder to the highest rungs of the sport.

"I look forward to working together with my team to make South Africa proud of the Spar Proteas," she says.

"We want to continue to be a team to be reckoned with in world netball."

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