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As we wrap up this Women’s Month, we close it of with a conversation with the Chairperson of the 2023 Netball World Cup Board, Patience Shikwambana.

How does it feel for you to assume this role of the Chairperson of the 2023 NWC Board?
I feel great, I am deeply humbled and honoured for this opportunity to lead the Board as its Chairperson. When I got the news about my appointment, it was only excitement and I was over the moon for such an honour and the confidence in me, as this is the biggest highlight in my career. It’s the first time that I have been appointed as a chair for a Board, so I had to Tova (pinch) myself and say it’s a dream come true. This achievement to me is by God’s Grace and hard work.

How much of a responsibility is this on your shoulders?
It’s a huge responsibility, we are talking girls and women in sport here, and therefore it’s a mammoth task, because the Netball World Cup is coming to South Africa and the continent for the first time. We have hosted a number of world class events with excellency and pride and one would think the same is expected of us to be responsible and to maintain the standard. Our overall responsibility is to provide an oversight role, strategic direction on financials and budget matters, monitor and evaluate the state of readiness of the World Cup and to ensure a seamless delivery of the event.  And to also appoint the LOC and report back to key stakeholders.

As a Chairperson, what would like to see happening with this World Cup?
It starts with leadership and integrity, as a Board we must lead, be in unison by putting our heads together towards a winning combination for the delivery of the World Cup.

We also need to have the rest of the world glued to watch the World Cup. To assist in turning netball professional as the only biggest women sport in the country. To make an impact to our country’s economy by providing opportunities to the disadvantaged sectors i.e. youth, women and people from townships and rural areas.

The World Cup must leave a legacy and therefore we have to ensure that our fundamental interest is changing the lives of netball players and a girl child from all corners of the country i.e. Cape Town to Mutale and further to Africa being to Cairo. We also have to demonstrate to the world that as women and the country, we are capable to host the best World Cup. The focus must be on who we are and what we can deliver. Let this event open doors for women in sport and create worthwhile partnerships and commercial opportunities.

What progress have you made as a board leading to 2023?
Subsequent to our appointment, the Board hit the ground running. As a collective, these are our milestones:the NWC 2023 NPC Company has been registered, the Cabinet Memo approved and signed, this is affirmation of Government support and contribution to this event, Board Terms of Reference developed and approved, interrogated the committed resources, this was critical so that the Board develops a clear strategy based on the set objectives the committed  revenue,  hosted an induction workshop, all of us equipped with what it means to be on the Board of Directors and to be ethical leaders of integrity, identified and listed key policies needed, three priority ones already  developed and approved, the Western Cape Government is leading very well on the domestic legacy programme which is refurbishment of netball courts in Western Cape, launching the NWC 2023 Cape Town Logo, the launch of the NWC2023 website, we also celebrated ‘Two Years to Go’ by announcing the dates of the World Cup which are 28 July – 6 August 2023. The NWC2023 board has begun the process of recruitment by advertising positions for senior management i.e. Tournament Director and Head for Finances, with government in the lead, hosted the inaugural IMC Technical Meeting and lastly shared our two years plans ahead of 2023.

What are some of the challenges that you are dealing with as a board?
It’s more the catch up since we lost time on some key obligations due to COVID-19. It is expected of us to change the gear to ensure we start ticking all the deliverables as per the timelines set.  Key is the appointment of the Operational Team to accelerate the implementation of tasks at hand.

What does success look like to you?
There is a phrase that says “the secret of your success is hidden in your daily routine.” With that said, success it’s being a dedicated and committed servant and making a difference in people’s lives. Nothing fulfils [me more] than seeing people prosper and grow in their lives due to your contributions and respect to any human being. Success equals people, solution and [and to be] empathy driven.

What would you tell young girls who are inspired by you and may want to follow your footsteps?
In my Xitsonga phrase we say Mintirho ya vulavula (meaning actions speaks louder than words) to all young girls and women out there, there are lessons learned from our parents and families that keeps us going. In such moments, I only remember my late mom (Niniwe Nwa Nxumalo) and grandma (Aziah Nwa Sambo) who continuously said go to school and be educated because no one will take away your education or certificate. By the way, my grandma always reminded me that in her era, if she was given an opportunity to go to school, she would have received distinctions and be a great leader in the society thus her encouragements. My mom, very smart, committed and dedicated women in her work. She was given a nickname “Sebenzani” (hard worker). Charity begins at home and if one remembers the teachings no one will miss her destiny. My parting shot to the young girls is “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”. Just always remind yourself of your strength, talent and beauty because nothing can dim the light which shines from within…