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The novel corona virus has forced the world to come to a standstill and this has been the case with netball as well, not only in South Africa but the rest of the world with some countries completely writing off their seasons and other postponing them.

We caught up with Baby SPAR Proteas captain Sikholiwe Mdletshe and found out what she has been up to during this lockdown.

Netball SA: Sne, how have you been keeping sane and fit during this lockdown period?

Sne: I have been spending quite a lot of time with my schoolbooks and my family; those two things have really kept my head and heart in a good space. When lockdown started there was a lot of uncertainty, I turned to running shuttles in the yard a lot, then I moved on to doing more netball related drills and using my chores to keep me active and progressing with that until the lockdown restrictions were eased and I could go for longer runs.

NSA: When did you start playing netball and was it your first-choice sport or you participated in other sporting codes before?

Sne: In primary school, we had to do all sports and netball was part of that, but I started playing Netball properly in High School, grade 8.

No, netball was not my first option. I was always focused more on athletics (long hurdles and 200m)

Yes, I participated in athletics at a provincial level, soccer, cricket, and cross-country at school level.

NSA: Right at the beginning of your career you had an injury that took you off the game for a while, how did you come back from that? What kept you going whilst under rehabilitation?

Sne: To be honest, I wanted to quit when I got that injury, but netball helps pay for my tuition fees so I couldn’t quit and I am glad for that because it made me push harder. During my rehabilitation, the urge to want to be the top player at Kovsies really pushed me. As a junior, I wanted to be alongside players such as Tanya, Khomotso, Khanyisa, Alicia and all those players and that kept me going, it still does.

NSA: You have broken boundaries in your netball career, and you are now the captain of the SA under 21 team, what was your instant reaction when you got the news?

Sne: I was left speechless, for me, already being named in the team was already massive, it had been something that I was working towards – a goal became a reality. So, to be named captain on top of that left me speechless but also in the middle of being excited and nervous for the task up ahead.

NSA: How has been for you captaining both the national team as well as your university team?

Sne: It is really a blessing, and something that I do not take for granted. In both these teams, the players are leaders in their own ways and that has taken away any pressure that comes with the title. It has also been a great opportunity for me to grow as a holistic individual as I continue learning from these players and growing in the process.

NSA: You were named as Player of the Tournament at the 2019 SPAR National Championships, what do you attribute that success to?

Sne: To God, it was just one of those things that I was looking towards and really don’t know how it happened. I went into the tournament after a personally bad  Telkom Netball League (TNL)  tournament, so my only focus and goals for the SPAR National Champs was to bounce back from a season that was not going to well for me, light that fire in me again, to enjoy the game and be the best I could be for the team.

NSA: The Baby SPAR Proteas were supposed to participate in the Africa Qualifiers for 2021 World Youth Championships in Fiji, the qualifiers have been cancelled, how do you feel about that?

Sne: I was heartbroken at first, it was one of my 2020 goals to be in the Qualifiers team and I was working hard towards that goal. So, for that to be taken away it was saddening, but I definitely understand decision and I am looking excited to seeing our u/21 World Cup team and I know they’ll be hungry and working hard to bring the title home.

NSA: Looking at the state of netball in the country currently, do you think the game is growing and getting better and more competitive?

Sne: Definitely, there is no doubt about that. Firstly, as players we now have a bigger view of what we can achieve in netball and that creates a more competitive spirit in the players and teams. Together with the platforms that NSA, Varsity Sport and USSA provide for the players, they are really creating a huge platform for the sport to grow and it shows from how we have been against top countries.

NSA: If you ever got a chance to play netball abroad, where would you go?

Sne: Suncorp League, it is so competitive with some great players that I would love to play with and learn from as well.

NSA: How has the lockdown and the postponement of TNL your Crinums season?

Sne: The lockdown and postponement of the season has impacted how we prepare as a team just like any other team in the league and as a team sport that is an important aspect to lose, but we knew that we had to adapt and focus more on individual training, growth and the mentality aligned with the team goal which was already set in stone.

NSA: What has been your proudest achievement?

Sne: Captaining the u/21 SA team, getting my Accounting degree Cum Laude and being a part of the 2018 Varsity Cup team.

NSA: With the 2023 Netball World Cup being hosted here, what would you like to see South Africans do in supporting the tournament?

Sne:  I would like to see the growth in the sport and support continuing like it is currently and getting behind the team.

NSA: Everyone is now dealing with a lot especially during this lockdown, if you were to give them any word of encouragement, what would that be?

Sne: We are overwhelmed by uncertainties everywhere, but what we can be certain about is our attitude towards what we are facing. So, instead of setting goals, set systems that allow you achieve what you what to do. And when it gets hard, take it day by day and if that gets hard take it hour by hour.