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Phumza Maweni (38) stands as one of the most experienced defenders in world netball. Her incredible journey began in June 2014 when she made her debut against Scotland, and her dedication led her to achieve an impressive milestone, her 100th test during the 2022 Africa Netball World Cup Regional Qualifiers.

Throughout her career, Phumza has left an indelible mark on the netball world, excelling as a key player for the SPAR Proteas. Her talent has taken her to incredible heights, competing in not one but two Commonwealth Games and being a member of the SA FAST5 Team. She even ventured beyond South Africa’s borders, making her mark in Australia’s Suncorp Super Netball and the UK’s Netball Super League.

Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Phumza has been a regular standout for the Western Cape’s Southern Stings during the Telkom Netball League. Her remarkable journey continues to flourish as she gears up for her third Netball World Cup appearance, building on her previous participation in the 2015 and 2019 tournaments.

Maweni’s story is nothing short of extraordinary, and her presence on the court continues to inspire players and fans alike as she etches her name in netball history.

As the team readies itself to face the world in Cape Town, we caught up with Phumza for an insightful Q&A session.

What does it mean for you to be part of this team for another World Cup?
“Oh, man, it means a lot. It is huge for me to play at home and be part of this group. It is just so amazing. I think it has been good. The setup, behind the scenes, the support, it’s amazing. I think we are so privileged to compete in front of our home fans. So, I think it is the thing that I will never take for granted, playing in South Africa.”

What would it mean for you as a team and as a player if you could get a podium finish?
“I think we are pumped. I think it is possible. Everyone talks about it and there is no pressure. We are such a nice group. So, we can just go and enjoy the game and deliver the best netball in our country. So, I think we have a chance to be honest, I do not see anything to stop us.”

How is the vibe in the camp?
“It is amazing. This group is such an amazing group. We created a great culture in this team. We’re always excited to see each other. We are looking forward to what lies ahead and what we can do better as a team.”

Any teams or players in particular that you’re looking forward to facing?
“Definitely Jamaica. People always tell us about Jamaica. No, there is nothing scary (about them) because we have played against them before. So, for us, especially me, it is nothing new. It’s the same people that play the game. I can just go back and review what I did well against them and then continue with the new skills that I have. We are good to go.”

Netball fever struck the country and Africa as a whole; how does that make you feel?
“It is huge. I think the World Cup as a whole gave the people, the community, a chance to know us as players and to understand exactly what netball looks like in our country and to respect us as players as well. There’s a lot of recognition. When you go to the mall, people do know exactly who you are. We never got this attention from the community before. I think the small things that happened behind the scenes that gave us a platform for the community to be involved and be part of this group and to be part of this journey to the World Cup. It is amazing. I think the community is closer to us now than ever before. I know I am not going to play for myself, but playing for the people who are watching me, for the fans. Obviously, I must play the best netball and deliver the best. So that someone who’s watching me can learn something from me. I am really looking forward to just going and enjoying the netball.”

South Africa start their Netball World Cup campaign on Friday 28 July 2023. Some key dates and times:

Preliminary Fixtures Stage 1
Friday 28 July
16:00 Opening Ceremony
18:00 South Africa vs Wales

Saturday 29 July
16:00 South Africa vs Sri Lanka

Sunday 30 July 
18:00 Jamaica vs South Africa

Preliminary Stage 2 fixtures to be announced closer to the time. Watch South Africa’s matches LIVE on SuperSport Variety 4 and SABC Sport.