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Coronavirus pandemic has brought sports around the world to a complete halt, no athlete has been able to take to court and do what they love. During this time, we got to chat to SPAR Proteas Assistant Coach Dumisani Chauke and find out how she is doing, her tenure as South Africa’s Assistant Coach and how she is keeping fit and safe.

Netball South Africa: Coach, thank you very much for your time. How have been during this lockdown period?

Dumisani Chauke: I have been well thanks for asking. Trying to cope and survive through this difficult and unfamiliar period.

NSA: How has this lockdown impacted you personally as well as the team’s (SPAR Proteas) programmes?

DC: Personally, I am not used to staying in one place for such a long time not being able to do my work. But the silver lining in this is that I get to be home, I get to be mom, I get to spend time with my family and I get the much needed time to do my school work.

The lockdown has had a huge impact on the Spar Proteas as we had planned on having a training camp in April, and unfortunately it couldn’t happen. Most of the Spar Proteas players that play overseas had to return home due to this global pandemic as their respective leagues were suspended until further notice. The lockdown has also affected the players that would have been part of the various TNL teams as the league had to be suspended until further notice as well.

NSA: Let us do a quick throwback and speak about your netball playing days – how did netball come about? Was it your first love or did you play other sports besides netball?

DC: So as a kid I played basketball, volleyball, baseball and soccer. I did not like netball at all as I thought it was too girly…hahaha. One day while still at Magangeni Primary School in Malamulele, the school had a match in the afternoon, but one of the players was absent. I was then asked by Ms Mathebula, who also coached basketball, to fill in. I didn’t know what to do so her instruction was that I must post up like I do in basketball. So just stand, lift my hands in the air, catch the ball, turn around and shoot. It wasn’t easy because there was no back board…we won that day and I was like “Hmmm not bad at all…” and that was the start of my relationship with netball. I love netball and I am grateful for all the doors it has opened for me, but Basketball is still my first love even though I have not played it in two years due to my schedule.

NSA: Did you ever imagine yourself playing for the national team and donning the green and gold?

DC: Well when I was a kid I used to watch netball “SESFIKILE” on SABC every Saturday afternoon. Of course, I wished and had a dream of being on TV like the players I was watching such as Manzo, Lana, Sindi, Karen, etc. The dream of actually wearing the green and gold was wild and too far-fetched for me back then as I had no idea how players got there or how the system worked, but deep down it was a dream I never shared with anyone…

NSA: Now let us talk about the transition from being a player to becoming an administrator, how was that? Was it hard at all?

DC: I started my sport administration and coaching career while I was still playing, so the transition was not hard at all. Started coaching at primary schools, then graduated to high schools and progressed to Nelson Mandela University (NMU) starting at the D-reserve league, and eventually ended up coaching the first team in 2014 and 2015.

NSA: 2016/17 must have been an amazing period for you because not only did you assume the role of Vice Chairperson of USSA Netball, you were crowned coach of the year at the annual TUT Pretoria Campus Sports Awards, you were also appointed as team manager of the Students netball team, which won a gold medal at the World University Netball Championships in Miami, became a team manager, SA u-20 Netball Team Manager, to the region 5 games held in Angola, where they won a gold medal – how was that for you?

DC: Shoo…have never looked at it like this… wow… I can honestly say that I felt very blessed, very honoured and privileged, and I still do, to have been given the opportunities to serve the sport in those roles. Thanks for taking me back, we don’t always stop, look back and celebrate how far we have come. Looking back now I would say that this period offered me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow in the sport and in each role I was in. It was my first year at TUT and the award was very humbling. Looking back I guess it was a sneak preview into the plans that GOD had for me going forward…

NSA: Amongst all of this you were also the Under 21 Assistant Coach.. How did you manage to juggle all these responsibilities?

DC: It was a challenge to keep everything in check but thanks to some of the life lessons/skills (time management, planning, goal setting) that I have learned through participating in sport, I managed. I also had a great support structure at home where my family would assist with AJ when I was away on netball duty.

NSA: Can you talk to us about being at the helm as a coach for the Limpopo Baobabs in 2017?

DC: Being the head coach of the Limpopo Baobabs was a great challenge I welcomed with two hands. My initial reaction after accepting the appointment was “What have I put myself into?”…  But soon after the nerves settled, I realized that this was a great opportunity for me to be challenged, stretched and grow as a coach. It was once again an opportunity for me to play a part in the growth and development of netball in the Limpopo province. It was an opportunity to challenge the players that were in the team, to push them a little further than they had been pushed before. To inspire them and infuse some confidence in their game and it was a great feeling when we improved from being number 10 to number 8 at the end of the 2017 BFNL.

NSA: You have also sat on the bench as a coach of TUT and the Madibaz. How different is coaching at Varsity Cup level as compared to Netball League?

DC: There is not much difference because the players are more or less the same age. However there is more pressure to perform at the University as that is my full time job, my number one priority and the team has to perform well at the USSA championships and qualify to play in the Varsity netball series. Teams do not have to qualify to play in the league and it is usually based on availability of players.

NSA: In 2019 you were appointed as Assistant Coach alongside Dorette Badenhorst, can you describe that feeling for us?

DC: It was a great feeling, mixed feelings to be honest. I was nervous about the new role because it is a huge responsibility and on the other hand I was excited, honoured and humbled, and still am, as this position is one that not many get to be appointed in. I was also happy that I would be working alongside Dot (Dorette) again.

NSA: Your first assignment was playing and competing at the 2019 Africa Netball Cu which you won, how was that for you?

DC: Hehehe…so that was special. It was special because the last time that South Africa played in the Africa Cup was in 2009 in Tanzania and I was part of the SA-A team that represented South Africa in that tournament. And guess who the coaches of the team were? Dot and Proff…and of course we won the tournament and brought the trophy home with us. Now 10 years later, on home soil, coaching alongside Dot and South Africa wins the Africa Cup again…I don’t have words to describe that, it was special, that’s all I can say…

NSA: As the technical team, you did not have enough time to prepare the team but managed to emerge as champions, how did you do it?

DC: We relied a lot on our senior players and their vast international experience. We were also confident that any player in the team could take the court at any time and get the job done. One thing we anticipated was that African teams present a different challenge because they can get feisty, but most importantly they have no set plays. Our preparations were mainly focussed on what we can do best as a team and how we can take our opponents out of their comfort zone or disrupt their style of play, especially the key players.

NSA: SA played against England at the SPAR Challenge in November in Cape Town, what were some of the valuable lessons that came from there for you as an Assistant Coach?

DC: Lesson 1: we cannot count ourselves out before the game has even begun.

Lesson 2: we need to learn to be consistent in sticking to the game plan, with a bit of flexibility and adaptability as things don’t always go according to plan on the court or during the game.

Lesson 3: we have the players, we have the skills, talent and abilities to compete and win against these top teams. However we need a system/structure that can support these player and those coming after them to ensure that the team and the sport in general gets better every season.

NSA: January of this year, the team also got to participate at the Vitality Netball Nations Cup against the top four ranked teams in the world, how was that for you and the team?

DC: The Vitality Nations Cup was a good test for us. It was an opportunity to test ourselves and take stock post the world cup as all the teams at the competition had new players and some had new technical team members as well.

NSA: What do you think are some of the challenges that netball in South Africa is facing and how can we overcome them?


  1. The nonexistence of a full time professional netball league where our players can make a living from playing netball, in South Africa. We can overcome this challenge through the establishment of such a league with the help of corporate South Africa. But before going to corporate, we need to do introspection of our sport, we need to do a SWOTanalysis, we need to understand what we are trying to sell to corporate, we need to understand the value of this product that we are selling and do it well by aligning ourselves with companies and organizations that have the same values as us, companies that are looking for a product to sell its values…and in this case that product is netball, the number one female sport.
  2. The club netball structure in the country can be improved as I think we lose a lot of players who do not end up going go to a university post their high school days, and this then leads to some of the players falling out of the “system” and we are not able to trace them.
  3. We can improve the players’ development structures at grass roots level with more support from provincial structures and focussing on the holistic development of a player.

NSA: With the 2020 events calendar hanging in the balance, how are you keeping fit, safe, and sanitized?

DC: Well I have created a routine for myself which helps to keep me insane. The routine includes training in the morning, helping AJ with his school work, doing my own admin, cooking lunch, play with Sibu, reading with the kids, watching some kind of sport (a sport inspired movie, old netball games, old NBA games). We have soap and hand sanitizer all over the house as a reminder to wash our hands. We wear masks when we leave the house to go for a walk or to get some essential at the shops.

Dumisani’s Fun Facts:

Favourite Meal: Pap, chakalaka and steak.

Drink: Coffee

TV Show or Movie: Coach Carter

Song: “I didn’t know my own strength” by Whitney Houston

Book: “Destiny” by TD Jakes

Holiday: Zimbali

Quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Coach Dumisani also shares some of her training exercises with us.
Coaching from Home with Dumisani Chauke | Training Session 1-4

Coaching from Home with Dumisani Chauke | Training Session 5-10

Coaching from Home with Dumisani Chauke | Training Session 11-19

Coaching from Home with Dumisani Chauke | Training Session 20-26