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She has given 56 years of her life to netball as a volunteer, and has served the sport in all its aspects, from Player, Coach, Umpire and Administrator. Bennie Saayman shares her netball knowledge.

How long have you been a netball administrator?
I am a netball administrator and chairperson of Cape Winelands for the past 24 years and Western Cape Netball President for 22 years.

Where did your netball journey begin?
I started my netball journey in Port Elizabeth where I grew up and dreamed about the green and gold.

What has been some of your most memorable netball highs?
The most memorable highs and moments close to my heart was when:

  • I became a national netball player and represented South Africa against England.
  • I was named netball player of the year and receive the President’s award.
  • I was the national coach to Jamaica early in 1999, the first ever Protea team to the Caribbean Islands.
  • I received the Coach of the Year award in my first year as coach at the National Championships in East London when Boland won the A-Section.
  • I was a South African umpire touring with South Africa’s A-team to Queensland, Australia in 1994, thefirst tour after South Africa was re-admitted to world participation.

What makes a good netball/sport administrator?
To be a good netball or sport administrator, you need to have passion for the game and understand all the facets of it. When we were players we were top umpires, selectors and served on the umpires’ board and we also served on our regional executive committees.

What every administrator needs to remember to succeed?

  • Be a good listener.
  • Listen to feedback, also the negative and be willing to change if needed.
  • Have passion for what you do and be well organised.
  • Commit to quality.
  • Be patient.
  • Have vision and be excited about suggestions or proposals of members working with you.
  • Practice effective communication.
  • Focus on developing younger members.
  • Strive to be an effective role model.
  • Inspire and motivate others.
  • Be the best you can be and set a good example.

What challenges have you faced in managing and growing the sport and also now with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic?
From my experience most people do not have the passion to really flourish as a leader in a portfolio. In the beginning people are keen to be part of a leading team and start with beautiful plans but sometimes when planning needs to be implemented, excuses can cause some to lose interest.

COVID-19 was a devastating blow at first, but we as an executive kept on with virtual meetings to try and make sense and kept communicating continuously with one another. Luckily, we as a provincial federation had weekly sessions with our WCPSC, where federations had support and assistance. We as a federation filtered information down to our districts. At the moment we are faced with the challenge of finding game experience. Players are getting irritable with the current situation.

What does the future of netball or sport in general look like?
Sport was popular for years but currently face many challenges and have an uphill battle finding ways to entice younger people to become active and involved. Since netball is a non-professional sport people just don’t work for free anymore therefore money needs to become part of our sport for players, administrators, coaches etc. I would say netball will have to become a professional sport with money and not just for the love of the game as we are still doing.

How does one become an administrator?
To become an administrator a person needs to become involved in netball after retiring as player and wishes to be involved in the game and wants to make a difference in the lives of young people. You must be passionate about netball and its offerings. Currently sport is changing and trying to predict the future is difficult.

What’s still to do on your netball bucket list?
I have given 56 years of my life to netball as a volunteer, and serve the sport in all its aspects – Player, Coach, Umpire and Administrator. I have seen the world through netball, met so many people around the world and represent netball on many committees. I am in my last term as President of the Western Cape and chairperson of Cape Winelands. I think I gave back more than what I received from netball but that is and was more than satisfactory. Netball bucket list. If spared I would love to sit next to the court at the 2023 World Cup and enjoy the game without pressure whatsoever.

What advice do you have for current and aspiring netball players, coaches, umpires, managers and administrators?
Whatever you are in netball, create your own dream and keep on dreaming.  One day you will look back and say: I have done my best, my personal netball book is complete. All the glory to our Heavenly Father for His grace and guidance in my life…

Thank you for sharing Bennie, wishing you the best for all your current and future endeavours.