Last week saw the first matches of the annual Fast 5 leagues taking off around the country, and since its introduction in 2016 there has been a considerable increase in interest from high schools from all provinces. The regional competitions will take place over the next three weeks, after which the best teams in each province will fight it out for a spot at the National Fast 5 Champs taking place from 2-4 October 2017.
Originally called Fastnet, Fast 5 is netball like you’ve never seen before, featuring dynamic rule changes like only having five players a side, shorter quarters, power plays and super shots for multiple points! The new format was announced by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) in 2008, and was primarily developed for a new international competition, the Fast 5 Netball World Series. The rules were revamped in 2012, with the variation being renamed Fast 5.
The main differences between normal 7-a-side netball and Fast 5 can be summarised as follows:
- Less use of the whistle and less stoppages, keeping the game “fast”
- GK and GS can come up to the half way line, all other positions remain the same
- Power playes for each team nominated at the beginning of the game
- 3 point shots from outside the circle
- 2 point shots from within the outer sphere of the circle (indicated by an additional line that splits the circle)
- Unlimited subs during a game, without any stopages
- 5 players on the court per team, and ability for players to use more of the court
- GS, GK – Can play in their two thirds, and their goal circle
- GD, GA – Can play in all three thirds, and their goal circle, but not the oppositions goal circle
- C – Can play the entire court, but not go into either goal circles
- No wing attack or wing defense
- All other regular netball rules apply
South African Schools Netball President, Di Wooley explains why they decided to introduce this format of the game to the high school environment: “Children love playing and this is just another opportunity to keep them occupied after school in a healthy fun activity, especially now that the regular netball season has come to an end.”
“Fast 5 is an exciting variation of the game and the children really enjoy it. This format is all about fun, and schools that are good at the 7-a-side game are not necessarily good at Fast 5,” says Wooley.
Although some schools have elected not to enter any teams just yet, due to other sporting codes like softball and athletics also starting this time of the year, some have relished the opportunity and have entered multiple teams.
HTS Middelburg’s Elmarie Schutte who is also the coordinator for the Mpumlanga province, says they have good reason to encourage their players to take part in the Fast 5 format.
“It is an extremely exciting version of the game we all love. It forces the players to be more creative on court and improves their stamina and speed as they have to cover more ground while coming up with new plays and strategies,” explains Schutte.
In Limpopo, Hoërskool Ben Vorster has also opted to embrace the opportunity with one overall provincial tournament taking place on 2 September 2017, which will determine who will represent the province at the National Championships in October.
“We decided that this fun format of the game would be a good opportunity for our players to wind down the season with a competition that is not as stressful, and to have some fun,” says Charmaine Beetge from Ben Vorster.
The interest in Gauteng has also grown since 2016, with Pretoria and Johannesburg now having separate leagues to narrow down the teams to take part in the Gauteng Championships. Schools like Garsfontein, Menlo Park, Wagpos and Woodhill College in Pretoria are all on board, while the likes of Florida, Linden, Randburg and Monument from Johannesburg (to name a few) will be vying for a ticket to the next round.
Watch this space for results, fixtures and photos of the 2017 Fast 5 season!