31 March 2022

Recently, Baloyi and another renowned star, Condi Sibiya, represented the university at the Sunbirds Netball trials, which were held in Nelspruit on 20 March. The Sunbirds is the provincial netball team that will be representing Mpumalanga in the Telkom Netball League.

“We both did well during the first round of trials, which were held in Middelburg, and then moved on to the second stage which was held in Ermelo. We made it to the finals but unfortunately did not do so well this time.

I’m disappointed that I won’t be representing Mpumalanga at the Telkom Challenge this year,” says Baloyi who coaches a Siyabuswa campus netball team, fondly known as Lockdown 11.

Baloyi and Sibiya, who are both BEd students at Siyabuswa campus, were also part of the 2021 UMP USSA team that was crowned UMP Female Sports Team of the year at the Co-Curricular Awards.

UMPUMP is discovering local netball stars.
Making a difference

As part of its netball development programme, the University of Mpumalanga allows local netball teams to use its facilities, with the intention to ensure that the aspirant netball stars are motivated and encouraged. UMP Netball coordinator, Kabelo Mmakola, says the university plays a vital role in developing netball stars within communities.

“During school holidays our players assist netball teams in their communities. The university also organizes tournaments in which local teams can play against UMP stars,” she says.

The Nkangala Netball league games are also being played at the UMP facilities. The tournament fosters an environment in which every young star starts dreaming big and developing confidence. The UMP netball team is organized. We play a part in growing netball stars within the different communities in Mpumalanga.

This makes local players want to register at the university because they want to be part of the UMP team.” He adds that most of the teams that use UMP’s sports field are comprised of high school girls who are mostly interested in studying at UMP to be closer to the institution’s netball team." 

Mmakola adds: “The local players admire our team. This is also another strategy that has helped us attract more young players to our team and registered at the university. Youngster become fascinated by the professional conduct displayed by their mentors (UMP players).”

UMPUMP netball stars: Lerato Baloyi and Condi Sibiya.

Stars in the making

Nondumiso Mhlongo is a young player, who was inspired by former UMP netball star, Khanyi Shongwe, UMP’s former Sports Woman of the Year. Shongwe played for Benin, one of the formidable sides in Nkomazi.

Mhlongo says: “I was motivated by Shongwe. She used to interact with us during school holidays. I can say that she mentored us. When I was still in high school it was my dream to play for the UMP netball team. Shongwe used to assist us and everyone in the team wanted to emulate her. Luckily, after completing matric, I was accepted to study at UMP and this gave me an opportunity to play for the institution."

She adds: “I am very happy to be part of this formidable team; it’s like a dream come true. I will use this platform to display my skills so that one day I can become a professional player and be a part of the national team.”

Mhlongo now plays for UMP and mentors other young players from her home town in Benin, KaMhlushwa in Nkomazi.

Diploma in Animal Production student, Nobuhle Nyoni, who is from Nkomazi has also commended UMP for playing a role in developing her sporting abilities. 

“Interacting with UMP players while in high school taught me discipline. Netball teams in the communities do not have that. Most of them play the game for fun and are not competitive. The UMP players are disciplined and very professional. And this is what I have learnt and that is what you need to succeed in netball, or any sport for that matter,” she says.

Other young stars who just joined UMP and are doing well include Hullender Mabuza and Mapule Kgatla who played for Mopani Netball Team at the Spar Championship last year.

Mmakola adds that UMP will continue to groom young netball players in the local townships. "The institution and our stars inspires aspirant netball players to do great and develops their willpower to become excellent players."

@ Story Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.