Durbies pip rivals in under-16 netball final

An inspired performance by centre Gillian Fortuin and her teammates saw Durbanville High School’s under-16 side beat Stellenberg High 18-11 to be crowned champions of the Cape Town high schools netball tournament, held at Bellville High School, at the weekend.

En route to the final they also beat northern suburbs netball powerhouse DF Malan High School 12-7.

It was the third consecutive time this side won gold at finals in progressive age divisions, as they have been doing so since under-14 level.

They qualified for the final netball competition of the year after winning their league, with the top four schools qualifying.

Gillian, 16, who operates mostly in the middle of the park, controlled her sides’ matches, and created a number of scoring opportunities that caused problems for her opposition defence with her darting runs.

The dynamite centre said she felt satisfied with her performance but believes there is always room for improvement.

“My team made a few basic errors which we can work on for the future. It is great to be a part of this amazing team as we triumph over all our teams in the league,” she said.

The former Durbanville Primary School pupil has been a regular in the Western Cape setup since under-13 level and won the gold medal with the WC side in 2015 and again earlier this year at the South African Schools championships, in Durban

She said making the WC team in 2012 for the first time has to be the highlight of her career so far.

“Words could not have described the mixed emotions I had after many people did not believe in me because of my height.

“My mother, Virginia, told me ‘I knew you would make it’ with tears of joy pouring out of her eyes,” she said.

The youngster said she started playing at a young age and has never stopped loving the game.

She credits her rise in the sport to former and current coaches Marry-Anne Dowdels and Grant Daniels who always saw the best and never stop believing in her.

“The guidance I got from them made me the netball player I am today.

“Also, my parents have been my number one supporters, being at most of my matches. To me netball is not just a sport it’s my life,” she said.

Gillian is a fan of South African star player Bongiwe Msomi, who was also part of the SA side that came fifth at the world netball series, in England, in 2011.

“I met her in person and she motivated me to work harder everyday to achieve my goals in life. She is short, as small as I am, and one amazing player and person,” she said.

Coach Grant Daniels said Gillian has grown a lot as a player.

“She is always keen to learn and up for any challenge. She is a versatile player that can play centre, goal and wing attack,” he said.

Referring to Saturday’s performance, Daniels said he was impressed with his side.

“I knew it was going to be tough because we played them in the league earlier this year.

“However, my players stayed calm and played as a unit which saw us walk off as champions.

“The hard work during the season paid off. It is a dream come true to defend our title and end the super league on top,” he said.

Durbies under-16 also finished 13th at the South African Top Schools championships, in Johannesburg, earlier this year.

Daniels said the season was an amazing one as his players have developed so much skills.

“To finish 13th in the country is a good achievement. We can only grow from here. 2017 is going to be a year to watch out,” he said.