I grew up, not being exposed to sport. If I look back now, I would say it was because we were more of a traditional family and our lives were mostly based on Zulu culture’s expectations and rules. Added to this I also went to schools that offered few sporting options, as it often the case in the townships.
Because of this I was not really interested in being an athlete.
What I was interested in were cultural activities such as Zulu dance and debating. The only time I participated in any sport was during our schools inter-house sports days – but I was not very good! I really struggled with not doing well (something I still maybe struggle with this) and so wanted to stuck with what I felt I was good at – dance and debate, not running.
My dad was a respected man in our community, and we were brought up in fear of being seen behaving badly, especially in public. We also had to be careful with what we wore because at home the women weren’t allowed to wear pants. There was no discussion on this – that was simply the rule. At that time, I didn’t think too much of it and accepted things as they were because I didn’t know anything different. However things started to change as I grew up, and in Grade 11 my world changed. I went to watch a friends netball practice and got roped into playing because they needed an extra player. This meant I had to wear sport gear which I knew would not be allowed at home; so I used to change at the courts and be careful where I was seen with the kit on. I could hide it for a while but eventually my family found out.
I remember my first netball training gear was from the kit that the team had won before I even started playing. My coach, S’thembiso Mncwabe gave it to me along with his own running shoes because I actually had no sports cloths to wear to training. I was grateful to have it but it also brought a lot of trouble, as the girls in the team started to moan that he had given it to me. I offered to give everything back to the coach but he insisted I keep them and told me not to worry what other players were saying about me. The girls really did not like me playing, but he motivated me to keep my head up.
These were my worse times as an athlete. I wanted to stop playing netball because most of the time the girls would be so nasty to me. But yet again, the coach did not allow me to give up. He was and still is a respected man in the community and so I listened to him…and am so grateful I did.
Things happened very quickly from this horrible start. In one year I went from not playing any sport to being chosen to represent EThekwini Region at the SALGA games. From there, I never looked back. This was the only time I started to realise how good it felt to be a female athlete.
I wish I had started playing sport earlier; but I am still happy that I at least got the chance when I did.
After the success of my grade 11 year I had a real desire to achieve and I tried to be positive whenever times were tough.
Do not wait for things to go well before you see the good. Have a goal, be strong through the challenges and work hard to achieve your goal.