Local netball talent selected to represent SA in Australian tourney

2018-02-02 13:30
Alexandra High School netball player Kwanele Mchunu (17) will be flying off to Australia as a member of the South African under-18 netball team representing the country at the International Schools Netball Tournament in May.

Alexandra High School netball player Kwanele Mchunu (17) will be flying off to Australia as a member of the South African under-18 netball team representing the country at the International Schools Netball Tournament in May. (Ian Carbutt)

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Local netball talent Kwanele Mchunu (17) is getting ready to jet off to Australia where she will be representing South Africa at the International Schools Netball Tournament in May.

The Alexandra High School Grade 11 pupil will be flying to Australia with the under-18 South African netball team.

The Lidgetton-born rising sports star was scouted by Alexandra High and offered a sports scholarship to study at the school in 2016.

Her fees are now being sponsored by the Phumlani Njilo Foundation, founded by local businessman and former Alexandra High pupil Phumlani Njilo.

Kwanele said she started playing netball when she was 12 years old at Jabula Combined School. “At the beginning I didn’t really like netball. I remember that the netball team would always walk past my home on their way to practise and I would follow and watch them play. One day the coach invited me to play centre position and I guess she saw potential because she decided to keep me on the team where I played defender,” she said.

On receiving her scholarship to Alexandra High, Kwanele said it was a “dream come true” as she had always wanted to attend Alexandra High and stay at a boarding school. “Boarding school has been fun, it’s like home away from home. I can easily strike a balance between netball and my books as everything I need is close by and I have all the necessary support,” she said.

Kwanele was awarded her International Honours in netball in June last year after she was selected to play for the South African under-18 team. “It came as a huge surprise to me. There were so many girls from all over the country and I was selected out of so many people.”

The young talent said she had mixed emotions about representing SA at the international tournament. “This will be my first time leaving the country and I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I am happy about going overseas but also scared because I feel like there is so much pressure as I have to work hard, practise and make sure we represent our home country well.”

The head netball coach at Alexandra High, Thembi Mlotshwa, said Kwanele’s achievement was significant for the school and they were extremely proud and happy for her.

“In actual fact it is such a humbling experience because this has never happened at Alex. It is also a great achievement for KZN as a province because we have three girls who made the SA team and are going to represent us in Australia,” she said.

Mlotshwa said only three KZN girls made the SA team, with Kwanele being the only pupil in uMgungundlovu District. The other two are from the Amajuba and Pinetown districts.

“We are trying not to put too much pressure on them but the bottom line is that they are representing SA and they must represent us well. I am keeping a close eye on her to make sure she is fit and in shape for the tournament,” said Mlotshwa.

Kwanele’s excited ward councillor in Lidgetton, Sithembiso Nkuna, said heand the entire community, are very happy for her.

“Kwanele is a very good example to girls of her age. She stands a chance of going to greater heights and she is an asset that we pride ourselves on.”

Nkuna attributed Kwanele’s realisation of her talent to the ward level sports programmes that exist in the community, and emphasised the importance of such platforms as they give youngsters the opportunity to showcase their talents.

If all goes well with Kwanele’s funding, which she is currently seeking, she will be flying to Australia in May.

The young netball player said after completing her matric she plans to study sport management while she continues playing netball.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  netball

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