Following the announcement on the selection of two University of Johannesburg (UJ) netball players to join the Proteas Netball Under21 squad, Nobuhle Sibisi was overwhelmed with emotion. She, and Boitumelo Mahloko have been invited to be part of the Under21 national squad in 2021.
The BA Sports Psychology student participated in the 2020 Spar National Championships where she and 27 other players were selected as part of the Spar Baby Proteas.
“I’m very happy. I’m overwhelmed with excitement and feel privileged to be part of the squad. I’m thankful to God for giving me this talent and to the coaches for believing in me,” said Sibisi.
The youngster says that the support she had from family friends and her Johannesburg Netball Association (JNA) teammates made playing at the National Championships easier and pushed her to work harder on a daily basis.
“I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for my supportive family and friends, JNA teammates who made playing so much easier cause we just jelled so well together. The compliments from the fellow teammates and coaches personally made me want to work even harder the next day because I could see that my teammates appreciated my hard work on the court,” explains Sibisi.
Sibisi thanks the UJ coaches Ms Nomsa Zungu and Ms Bongiwe Msomi for preparing her for the 2020 Spar National Championships which she believes thrusted her into the national team.
“Coach Nomsa gave me the opportunity to play and continuously reminded me of my strengths which made me want to do well all the time. I’m also grateful to the support I received from Coach Bongi’s feedback recommendations on my training videos during lockdown. I bothered her a lot on the phone and she was supportive,” says Sibisi.
Speaking about the Proteas callup Ms Bongiwe Msomi, Manager: UJ Netball Club said: “This is exciting news for our University and a great opportunity for our student-athletes. We are proud of the girls and wish them everything of the best in the national trials. They prepared well and we are confident that they will give of their best.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted many sporting activities globally, leaving athletes unsure of what will happen the next day, Sibisi continued her solo training. “It’s all about mental strength,” she says.
She added, “Keeping fit at the moment is a mind over matter thing. But I don’t want to lie, some days were harder than others when I felt like this pandemic should just come to an end. But I have adjusted, it’s more like a new lifestyle.”
Sibisi says the COVID-19 pandemic has taught athletes a few important lessons, such as the ability to train with limited resources, space, and in unusual environments. “We just have to make things work. In the hard level five lockdown, the UJ Netball Sports Scientist, Liphiwe Nxasana, sent us monthly programmes. Together with the coaches, they’ve compiled a programme that includes conditioning, netball skills, and other important skills,” explains Sibisi.