Msomi has been around the blockThomas Kwenaite
By Mandla Dladla
Netball used to be classified as a Cinderella sport in this country but thanks to the efforts of many stakeholders, it is growing rapidly in this country and national captain Bongiwe Msomi is excited to see the game grow in the way that it has been over the past few seasons.
The partnership entered by Netball South Africa with some of the biggest corporate houses in the country has assisted a great deal in galvanizing the sport to reach the level where a few years ago it unimaginable and this has helped the sport to overcome its Cinderella tag.
“Sponsorships such as Spar has helped in many different ways in terms of the growth and development of the sport.” opines national senior team captain Msomi. “For example, Telkom have come in a big way in terms of accommodation for players when we participate in the Telkom Netball league.
“This (Telkom Netball League) is where most of the national team players are spotted and subsequently get opportunities to be selected and end up representing the country at national level.”
Msomi explains that taking part in the national league is had and exhaustive especially because it is played over a period of nine months from January to September.
It is for this reason that she feels more sponsors are required to take care of challenges like accommodation, flights to and from different regions and provinces as well as purchasing playing kit which could assist further in the growth of the sport.
The acquisition of major sponsors in the game has resulted in slight changes being introduced in the general game. And for the first time, club championships have been introduced across the country and these enable players and clubs to compete against each other for the Twizza Netball Championship.
“I think back to my formative years and about my playing days from back during high school at Hammersdale in KwaZulu/Natal, I still marvel at the rapid strides taken by netball and the incredible manner in which the sport has improved to the level that it is right now.
“When you are still young and learning it’s beautiful because you are afforded the opportunity to grow as you learn and to end up seeing myself playing at different leagues and the national team has been a milestone and a huge achievement.
“And the more you travel around the world and get to experience different traditions and cultures make you a better player and a person. The opportunities I have received through netball have really made me a complete woman.”
She certainly comes a long way in netball and after featuring for the Kingdom Stars in the Brutal Fruit Premier League, she captained the SA U-21 during the 2009 World Youth Netball championships at the Cook Island.
She also captained the SA squad during the tour of New Zealand and Australia for the Quad Series during 2016/17 and 18. But during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she greatly impressed Tomsin Greenway who recruited her for the Surrey Storms in the United Kingdom where she played in the UK Super League.
Msomi is currently the netball manager at the University of Johannesburg and a coach. This makes her proud of all the hard work she has put in so far in her career and she hopes that all the opportunities that are opening up in the game would be enjoyed by those coming after her.
International competition takes a mental toll on countless athletes and it something we hear as see quite a lot these days, with tennis player Naomi Osaka a case in point. But Msomi is thankful that she has never experienced health issues in her career.
“We are faced with a lot that we have to deal with as athletes, which of course includes media interviews and a lot more pressures that goes with the territory,” says Msomi. “I have been lucky in that I have always had people assisting me so that I am not all over the place and my focus becomes more on playing and enjoying the game.”
Msomi feels excited that the Netball World Cup is coming home to South Africa during 2023 and she feels privileged to have been a part of previous World Cup tournaments and feels confident that the event is going to help grow the sport even more.
Covid-19 brought a lot of changes in as far as how things are done in the world of sport. Testing for possible infections has become the norm and is always stressful but necessary because one never knows if they are going to test positive or negative.
The fear of contacting or infecting the virus is such that little things like hugging which used to be an important part in celebrating, are no longer permitted and everybody is required to sanitize and wear face masks.
We would like to wish the Spar Proteas all the best when they travel to Jamaica to take part in the Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series again Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago from the 10th – 22nd October 2021 in Kingston Jamaica.