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South African shooter Elmerè van der Berg is the final piece of the jigsaw for Manchester Thunder

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 06: Elmere van der Berg of South Africa during the Netball World Cup 2023, 5th/6th place match between South Africa and Uganda at Cape Town International Convention Centre, Court 1 on August 06, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023 via Getty Images)

Manchester Thunder have secured the signature of star South African shooter Elmerè van der Berg as the final piece of the jigsaw for their 2024 campaign.

With the unfortunate withdrawal of Lenize Potgieter due to medical reasons, Thunder will be welcoming van der Berg, another dynamic Proteas shooter who deputised in the Netball World Cup. At 191cm tall (6’3”), the 22-year-old had some impressive performances in Cape Town at the Netball World Cup and also became a perfect replacement for club as well as country.

Introducing herself, van der Berg said, “I’m a goal attack/goal shooter and I’d say I play mostly an aerial game because I can jump very high and I’m a fast player and a strong player in the air.”

“I’m very excited to be able to come over to the UK and play, and there’s loads of opportunities that I can get going there. I heard the club [Thunder] is like a small family and everyone gets along well, so I’m looking forward to being able to experience all of that.”

Her international netball journey started at 17-years-old playing in South Africa’s regional competition in Botswana. In 2021, van der Berg got called up for the U21 Baby Proteas team which didn’t happen due to covid. Then at only 20-years-old she made her debut for The Proteas in the 2022 Commonwealth Games and was also named ‘The Best Shooter’ in the Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers. Her talents continued as she stepped up for the South African World Cup squad this year where she gave another stand out performance, promising Thunder an exciting season ahead.

Van der Berg said, “It was a huge honour and privilege to represent my country on home soil in the World Cup and I don’t think I’ll ever experience an event like that again in South Africa. The first game against Wales, everyone was crying singing the national anthem because it was so beautiful and the whole country stood together and sang the anthem. It was a huge privilege and honour for me and I’m very grateful I got the opportunity.”

Karen Greig, Manchester Thunder Head Coach said, “I’m so excited to have secured Elmerè’s signature for the 2024 season. I have kept a close eye on her progression over the last few seasons at both the Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup. She is an exciting young athlete who can comfortably play GS and GA and isn’t afraid to shoot from range, which will give us flexibility across our shooting unit this season. I can’t wait to welcome Elmerè to the Thunder family and get started.“

Excited to join the Thunder team this season and get a taste of the UK Netball Super League, she will also be joining her South African teammate Shadine van der Merwe. Van der Berg said, “We actually roomed in the Commonwealth Games so we are very familiar with each other and I’m excited to play with her at Manchester Thunder and to be on the same court as she is. She’s a great girl and we are actually great friends so I’m very excited to be able to play with her this season.“

Van der Berg concluded, “I’m very excited to go over there away from home, experiencing another country and standing on my own two feet. I think that’s what most young people actually need to be able to understand responsibility. I would love to bring the determination I have and the spirit of never giving up and to keep on working hard even when you don’t feel like it and my sense of humour too!”

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