Net­ball star bids farewell to the court, ready for busy re­tire­ment

CityPress - - Sport - RE­ABETSWE MASHIGO re­abetswe.mashigo@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: CHRIS­TI­AAN KOTZE / PHOTO24

MOV­ING ON Net­ball star Zanele Mdo­dana is ready to re­tire

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