After the conclusion of the 2023 Vitality Netball Series between England and South Africa on Sunday, December 10th, which saw England emerge victorious with a 2-1 series win, the iconic SPAR Proteas Coach, Norma Plummer, announced that her final curtain had fallen as an international netball head coach. Her second stint with the team, from 2015 to 2019, and then her return in 2023, had left an indelible mark on South African netball.
In her initial tenure, Plummer played a pivotal role in elevating South Africa's netball status, orchestrating a climb from 7th to 5th in the world rankings by her departure. The pinnacle of her first term was the 2019 Netball World Cup, where she steered the team to an impressive 4th-place finish. Notably, Plummer's influence extended beyond the court as she actively mentored South African coaches, with foresight that they would eventually take the reins upon her departure, a prophecy that came true in 2019.
Returning as a mentor and advisor during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2023, Plummer's invaluable experience guided the team through her strategic insights. Post the Commonwealth Games, she assumed the role of interim coach from October 2022 until the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town, where the SPAR Proteas secured a commendable 6th-place finish.
Reflecting on her time with the team, Plummer said, “I have had the privilege of working with the best players in this South African team. It is unfortunate we did not win the series, but I can assure you that we have built something here and I can only hope that the team grows from here."
Remaining at the helm after the Netball World Cup, Plummer continued to guide the team through two test matches in Australia and England. The England match, which concluded on Sunday, marked her official farewell.
Netball South Africa President, Cecilia Molokwane, lauded Plummer's impact, stating, “Norma Plummer has been a great asset to the federation, the team, and individual players. She came in at a time when we needed a great coach, and she became exactly that. She has inspired all of us to do better and have a winning culture."
Acknowledging Plummer's contribution, Molokwane emphasized the lasting influence of her coaching philosophy on the team's preparation for future tournaments. As the search for a new head coach commences, Netball South Africa will appoint a suitable candidate by January 2024.
Molokwane also highlighted the symbiotic partnership between Plummer and Nicole Cusack, acknowledging Cusack's role in enhancing the team's shooting prowess. The collaborative efforts of Plummer and Cusack have borne fruit, resulting in South Africa boasting some of the best shooters on the global netball stage.
SPAR Proteas Vice Captain, Karla Pretorius, expressed her gratitude, stating, “I really count myself one of the lucky ones who have the pleasure of being coached by Norma Plummer. Working with her has exceeded all my expectations."
Captain Bongiwe Msomi echoed these sentiments, emphasizing Plummer's transformative impact on the team's mentality and performance. “When Norma came in here, she really changed a lot – she made us believe that we can compete and not only participate at tournaments – we can actually win," said Msomi.
As Norma Plummer takes her final bow from the international netball stage, her legacy resonates in the hearts and minds of the SPAR Proteas, leaving a blueprint for success that will guide the team into a promising future.
Edited by: Vicky Muzio
Photo by: Netball South Africa
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