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The world is currently on lockdown and so is sports globally. We took time during this period to have a chat with one of the best talents in South Africa, SPAR Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi and find out from here what she has been up to during this time.

Netball SA: Thank you very much for your time Bongi, how have you been dealing with the lockdown?

Bongiwe Msomi: I am one of the very fortunate ones who can continue working from home during this lockdown. So, I have been keeping quite busy with work, training, and a bit of fun stuff when I need a break.

NSA: From a playing point of view how has this affected your game?

BM: To be honest, I am enjoying my training now as I get to adapt my training program to how I am feeling on the day and without the pressure needing to be ready for a competition or tournament.

At this point, I cannot really tell as we have not had any competition.

NSA: Let us take a journey down memory lane, how did you get to play netball?

BM: From watching friends from the side-lines at training. Literally stood there with no idea of me being on the court training or playing, whilst I was enjoying watching training as usual, I was called to fill in a WD position. There were 13 girls at training that day for our high school team (Luthayi High) and when Mr Mncwabe (my netball coach, who was my Zulu teacher from grade 10) wanted the girls to play, he couldn’t really work on what he wanted to work on and needed WD position to be filled. One of my neighbourhood friends asked him to ask me to play.

He was not happy to do that as he believed I was one of the naughty girls at school. Hahaha I was not naughty I believe, but when he explained later, I understood..! I used to get out of the class every time they call sports learners and claim to be one of them. Get to the field, especially on athletics day and wouldn’t even know which one to join as I was clueless in all then would end up having to hide or run away from the teachers so they don’t send me back to class. I think I remember doing this and telling one teacher I do high jump lol! I was on the spot and had to give an answer so high jump it was! I know I know I know… lol

After filling in, I was asked to join the next training session and it all started from there.

NSA: Besides netball, what other sport did you play?

BM: Nothing really. I remember joining a group back home for basketball games but literally, not much rules, so no one was as bad. Probably for about two months then I stopped. I think I struggled hahaha

NSA: Do you think that leaders are born or made? You captained the South Africa under 21 back in 2009 and now the SPAR Proteas.

BM: Personally, I think a bit of both! In my case, if I must really think about it, my dad was a leader in our community in many aspects and my mom (mother of 8 children), is my pillar of strength. I also have a wonderful mentor in Mr Mncwabe, my netball coach who reinforced what my family instilled. I was very shy and reserved (to an extent, I still am), however, through the opportunities I had, I have grown to be more confident and more expressive on how I feel. I might have gotten some of my qualities from my parents, but I also believe that through my upbringing and experiences in life, it has shaped me to be the person I am today.

NSA: You have been part of the SPAR Proteas for the past 11 years now and how has that experience for you?

BM: Amazing! An eye opener, challenging, Inspiring and humbling. A life changing experience! God, I am grateful.

NSA: What are some of your memorable highlights as a SPAR Proteas player?

BM: The highlight for me is every time I get to wear the Spar Proteas kit and represent my country.

NSA: In 2015 you moved to the UK and played for the Surrey Storm and later moved to WASPS in 2017, how did those moves come about?

BM: I received and inbox message on fb from Tamsin Greenway asking me to join them at Surrey Storm. At first, I really thought it was one of those scam messages, so I did not really pay attention to it! after a little while, I googled her and find out she was the amazing person she is J. With my coach, we agreed to reply and show interest to her proposal and it was the best big decision I have ever taken. Tamsin moved to coach at wasps and again gave me an offer. Both these times (Surrey Storm and with Wasps) we were champs and besides that, what a wonderful coach, player, and person she was for me. All the other opportunities came after my time under her leadership and I will be forever grateful.

NSA: Can you also tell us about your stint in Australia for the Adelaide Thunderbirds?

BM: Amazing to have been offered a contract to play in Australia. It was awesome to be part of such a great and professional environment and to date, I really am pleased I had that chance. Probably not the best in terms of being on court and playing, I do rate it as one of the most challenging experiences I have heard so far in my netball career. In saying this, really learnt so much from it and met some wonderful people who taught me a few things on and off the court.

I met Erin Bell (former Samsung Diamond player) and through her netball project, she used to invite me to be part of her program for the day. From there, Erin gave me the idea of having my own netball program hence the Bongi Msomi Netball. She believed I had a lot to shared and really had respect for what I could offer… I appreciated that.

I was also involved to one of the amazing netball clubs in Adelaide (contax netball). Amazing people from our first meeting. To date we somehow keep in touch.

Despite the tough times as an Adelaide Thunderbirds player, I still openly loved being there in many ways. The people I worked with, the club, the things I learnt on and off the court, the resilience and bravery he

art of mine is forever grateful. The bring it on attitude was revisited after that. Hahaha

NSA: In 2019 you earned your 100th international cap at the World Cup against Fiji, a game you won 90-35 – how was that for you?

BM: It was pretty special. Especially at the court when we had to run in for the match and the team made sure my entry was different. I never really played to count caps, I know I use to bother Nisha because I would not pay attention to it so that day, until we got to the court, was just a normal game day. I cannot even remember if during the day I remembered. Spending time with Phumza, she also would not really pay attention to it just made my day as normal as I wanted it to be. But yes, it was just a different feeling when it was all celebrated at the courts and back at the hotel… I shed a tear or two hahaha!

NSA: Top four finish was the best display by the team at the world cup, as a captain of that team, how is that feeling for you?

BM: Top four finish was great! But what was more special for me was the way in which the SPAR Proteas have grown over the past few years. So close to even playing a final! Goodness! What A Team!

Credit to Norma and Nicole for their wealth of knowledge shared with us! And of course, the whole team management and to Netball South Africa for putting the amazing support team together. And not forgetting the valuable support from our sponsors. Might not have been a medal or a trophy but from then, Netball in our country has reached a whole new level and hope we can only grow from here. Super pleased!

NSA: How was winning the 2019 Africa Netball Cup in Cape Town after a 10 year absence?

BM: It is was awesome! It was great to see that we could carry our performance from the World Cup through to Africa Netball Cup under the new coaching duo in Dot (Dorette) and Dumi. The growth within netball, especially in Africa is becoming great competition and you cannot take any games for granted. The battle against our African sisters have become something special which we look forward to. Always great to compete, let alone to win at home.

NSA: You decided to come home and start coaching the University of Johannesburg netball team. How has the transition been for you?

BM: I did not get much time to settle in. From World Cup, to playing SPAR National Champs and then straight to starting work at the University of Johannesburg. It was August already and had to select and prepare the team for Varsity Cup. In saying this, it is the best decision I have made, and I look forward to growing in my new role. Really love my work and the amazing athletes I get to engage with.

NSA: Will you be participating for any of the TNL teams in 2020 as a player?

BM: That was the plan until Covid-19 and the lockdown arrived.

Bongiwe’s Fun Facts:

Favourite Meal: Mutton samp and beans

Drink: Passion fruit and lemonade

TV show or Movie: I am not much of a TV person, but I enjoyed watching a movie called No Good Deed

Song: Gospel Songs (lots of them) and Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

Book: I cannot sit still for long period so reading and TV are not my go to.. hahaha

Holiday: I have never been on a holiday. Every time I have travelled, it has been for netball

Quote: If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 13: Bongi Msomi, captain of the SPAR Proteas takes to court for her 100th match during the Vitality Netball World Cup match between South Africa and Fiji at M&S Bank Arena on July 13, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)