SA Angels Prepare for 2013 World Master Games

Words: Leslie Petzer

The World Masters Games (WMG) is a sporting event that brings together tens of thousands of athletes and their teams, including disabled athletes with specific competitions, from around the world every four years.

Its organising body, the International Masters Games Association (IMGA), is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and fosters the 'sport for everybody' philosophy of the Olympic Charter. Through the World Masters Games, the IMGA promotes the practice of sport among the more mature in the awareness that competitive sports can be engaged in, to the great benefit of health no matter what the age of the competitors.


The first World Masters Games was held in Toronto, Canada, in 1985, and attracted 8,300 athletes. Since then, the success of this event has become unstoppable and today it can only be described as overwhelming. It is now the largest participatory multi-sport competition in the world, and in 2009, the World Masters Games, held in Sydney, brought together 28,000 men and women athletes, who ranged in age from 30 to 35 years and older. Torino, Italy, will be hosting the eighth edition of the World Masters Games, the summer games for sportspeople aged from 35 to 100+ years from 2 to 11 August 2013, and it is anticipated that it will attract in the region of 50,000 participants. The Torino candidature dossier contains 28 sports, which will be staged at 72 venues across all provinces of Piemonte. Core summer World Masters Games sport include, archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, canoeing, cycling, football (soccer), field hockey, orienteering, rowing, shooting, softball, squash, table tennis, and weightlifting.


With softball being one of the main sporting events of the WMG, our South African Ladies Masters Softball team, also known as the SA Angels Master Softball team, is hard at work preparing for the 2013 World Games, which is being held from 2 to 11 August. They are hoping to improve on their third place position, out of 50 participating countries, at the 2009 Games.


The 2013 SA Angels team: Theresa Cooke, Leslie Petzer, Vanessa Bower, Maureen Botha, Catrien van Rooyen, Verlene Olivier, Ursula Halvorsen, Elize Crous, Joan Dicker, Abigail Magee, Bernadette Scherag, Tracy Rimmell, Caralee White, and Chani Delport.


The training of the squad, leading up to the WMG, has been put into the young yet very knowledgeable and experienced hands of Coach Lee Vermaak, who coached the 2010 SA team for the Softball World Series, the Junior Women's team at the 2011 World Cup, and has been the Northern's Women's coach for the past three years. When our Angels land in Italy, Lee will be joined by the Australian-based Coach Paul Barlow, who has many years of coaching experience in the game of fast pitch softball, at an international level. The combined knowledge and experience of the game that these two coaches posses, along with the more experienced capped players on the team, makes the SA Angels team a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming World Masters Games.


I caught up with Lee and this is what she had to say about the upcoming World Masters Games and her 2013 SA Masters squad.


1. What is your training philosophy building up to an international event like the WMG?

My coaching philosophy is a two-fold strategy.


Physical: One of the challenges a coach faces is to firstly get everyone on the same page with regards to their fitness level and skill set. Every player has a different skill set that adds to the team and it is up to the coach to tap into their abilities and enhance those skills, to ensure that when we reach the tournament, every player will be able to execute what is required of them.


Mental: Apart from a player’s skill set, the mental aspect of the game has always been a key element in the success of a team. It’s about believing. I have seen teams lose championships because of a little doubt. If you, as a player, cannot believe in yourself and your team, you are setting yourself up for failure. Like Vince Lombardi said, "Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale."


2. Do you have a specific strategy going into these games?

Once we know what group we will be playing in, we will asses each team and make sure that we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Strategic planning is essential when playing in any international event. We are not going to the tournament to lose. Our team has all the elements a great softball team needs. We have fast runners, big hitters, and a solid defence.


3. What challenges do you face at the tournament?

The ladies will be playing a lot of games. They are estimating that over 90 teams will compete at this tournament. This means that they will be playing between 20 and 25 games over a 10-day period. The challenge will certainly be to keep injuries to a minimum and make sure they are well rested.


4. How competitive do you think the SA Masters team will be?

"Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is." Vince Lombardi.


We might find that we are not the best team on paper when we arrive in Italy, but luckily the game is played on the softball field. Our goals are set and we want to go above and beyond what is expected from us and hopefully bring back the trophy in the process.


Working with these ladies has already been such an incredible experience, as they can really strut their stuff on the softball field. A coach cannot ask for a better team to take to a World Masters event. They are disciplined, focused, ambitious and eager to use every opportunity, to get out on that field and play the game they love so much. They are truly individuals who play the game because they love playing it!


"Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision." Muhammad Ali
Good luck to the SA Angels Master Softball team at the upcoming World Masters Games and make us proud!



Follow the SA Angel's progress during the WMG on facebook/SAangels Softball or visit the website