Netball star bids farewell to the court, ready for busy retirement
She is the most capped netball player in the country, was named one of the top young South Africans of 2014 – and she has just bid farewell to a netball career on the court.
The 31-year-old Zanele Mdodana, known to local netball fans as Zan, has decided to shift her focus from the hustle of the court to coaching.
Mdodana, who played goal or wing defence, was born in Port Elizabeth and started playing netball at the age of 10.
She initially wanted to be a tennis player but her coach at the time suggested she take up netball because of her height.
“I’m actually a better tennis player, but my destiny lies in netball and I’ve never looked back”, Mdodana said. The netball star said her role model was onetime world number one tennis player Steffi Graf, who is the same height (1.76m) as Mdodana.
“Steffi has poise and she is a professional sportswoman who knows how to keep her life private.
“Her footwork is amazing, which is also something that is important for a netball player like me,” she said.
After playing for the Eastern Cape and representing South Africa in the Under-20 and Under-21 sides, Mdodana made her national debut for the Proteas in 2005.
She captained the side that beat Malawi 47-43 in 2012, a victory that took South Africa to the number one spot in Africa.
Mdodana was named netball player of the year in 2009, became an ambassador for Laureus Sport for Good Foundation SA in 2014 and established the Vision Girls Foundation, which grooms young netball players.
After a 13-year netball journey, Mdodana wishes she could have done some things differently and only regrets one thing.
“I would’ve told myself to grow up. You have to seize the moment in every opportunity that comes your way and also live in the moment, before it’s too late.
“I wish I had secured medals in international games such as the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
Mdodana has dedicated 21 years of her life to the sport and has an honorary degree in sports management from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
She is currently assistant coach of the university’s netball team – and has big plans for her “retirement”.
“I want to give back to sport through transforming the youth’s mentality.
“I also want to have a netball academy to assist with the growth of the sport.
“Netball needs to start competing with sports like rugby and soccer so I want to influence that in my retirement,” she said.
MOVING ON Netball star Zanele Mdodana is ready to retire