Netball South Africa contracts will 'provide security' to players

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South Africa netballer Lenize PotgieterLenize Potgieter made her international debut in 2014

South Africa international Lenize Potgieter has hailed Netball South Africa's decision to sign contracts with national team players.

The goal shooter is among 24 members of the squad who have been handed deals which are based on performance.

It is the first time the South African federation has contracted players, and Australia-based Potgieter says the move will help secure their careers.

"It's giving us that sense of security, and the sense of confidence and trust that they believe in us to get the job done," she told BBC Sport Africa.

The move comes ahead of this year's Commonwealth Games, scheduled for August in Birmingham, UK.

The tournament will be Potgieter's first national assignment in almost a year, having taken a break from the sport last September following a nervous breakdown.

The 28-year-old believes the new agreement will give players stability and could help with their mental health.

"I definitely think it can help somehow ease financial pressure, and ultimately ease some mental pressure," she added.

Netball South Africa see this decision as the first step in moving the sport towards professionalism in the country - a view shared by the Adelaide Thunderbirds player.

"It'll have a massive impact on the sport in South Africa," Potgieter explained.

"Now that we are becoming professional I think younger girls would think 'Oh, yes, I can make a job of it. If I get chosen into development teams I might have a chance to play in leagues in England, New Zealand or Australia'."

"I think it'll also strengthen netball in South Africa."

Head coach Dorette Badenhorst also believes the historic move will boost the standards of the game in South Africa, describing the announcement as a "big step" for the sport.

After the Commonwealth Games, South Africa will be the venue for Africa's 2023 Netball World Cup qualifiers.

Next year the country will host the global tournament for the very first time, with 16 teams competing for the trophy in Cape Town.

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