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Precious Mthembu, who retired from international netball as a player over the weekend, will leave a huge legacy behind as one of the best wing defenders that has ever played the game.

Mthembu (37) made her international debut at the tender age of (22) on 26 January 2007 against England in Birmingham.

She played 97 test matches, the most by any wing defence in South Africa and the fourth most by any SPAR Protea. Who can ever forget the amazing comeback she made in 2019 at the Africa Netball Cup in Cape Town, after sustaining an ACL injury (her second) in the match against Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Other milestones and accolades in her career include:

  • Representing South Africa at the 2011 and 2015 Netball World Cups
  • Representing South Africa at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Winning the Diamond Challenge in 2012, 2015 and 2016
  • Winning the Africa Netball Cup in 2013 and 2019

Apart from the SPAR Proteas, Mthembu also represented South Africa in the:

  • SA Fast5 team (2011)
  • SA Fast5 Invitational team (2014)

Other teams she has played for:

  • Kingdom Stars (2014-2021)
  • Mermaids (2009)
  • eThekwini / KZN Midlands / Umgungundlovu (2005-2016)

In recent times Mthembu has turned to coaching with great success working with:

  • South Africa’s u20 team that won the AUSC Region V Youth Games in Maseru in 2021
  • Assistant Coach of South Africa u21
  • Currently coaching the KZN Kingdom Queens for the 2022 Telkom Netball League

On her illustrious international career Mthembu said:…I gave everything I had each time I put on the Proteas’ green and gold dress. However, I feel this is the right time to officially announce my retirement from playing international netball. I excelled in many sports that I tried at a young age, but it was when I first caught the netball bug at the age of 10, that I truly felt at home. I could have never imagined that I would play for my country so many times and in so many arenas around the world. It has been a long journey filled with greatness and challenges. It has been a great pleasure and honour to represent my country. I appreciate all the opportunities that being part of the SPAR Proteas has afforded me and I feel that the time is right to give back to the game that has given me so much. I am thankful to all the people who’ve been a part of my journey, the technical staff, managers, coaches, teammates, doctors, medical staff, sponsors and supporters. I will forever be a proud SPAR Proteas supporter and I wish the team all the very best for their upcoming international events.

Netball South Africa President, Cecilia Molokwane:It’s funny how I’m the one that actually found you, playing in the C-section when I was Director of Selections for Netball South Africa. And today, I’m the one that is saying thank you to you for giving us the time and showing us dedication, commitment and hard work. Being the person you are, humble as you are, an excellent player you were, and still is I believe. Thank you for everything you’ve done for netball and thank you for not leaving netball, you’re still amongst us in our midst, you never gave up even though my heart is sore that you never reached that 100th cap I so badly wanted you to reach. However as I always say, everything in life happens for a reason and God knows why. I wish you all the best in your new journey as a coach and I hope that you will reach all the highs of coaching. You are loved by me, you are loved by the netball family, you are loved by the continent and the world. You are such a beautiful person. Keep on being you, Precious Mthembu.

Fellow SPAR Proteas team mate and current national captain, Bongiwe Msomi:You will always remain the champ you are Precious Mthembu! An absolute legend who worked hard consistently to be the best she is! Been lucky to share so many beautiful memories with you and to spend so many years with such a champ, a sister and my gogoz especially at national level! Pleased for the kids who get to be coached by you as they are definitely learning from the best! Keep shining champ, blessings to you.

From everyone at Netball South Africa and the extended netball family. Thank you for all the magical moments, Precious Mthembu.