How Vimbela bounced back after long-term injury

I’m still a work in progress, says defender

- By Athenkosi Tsotsi

After surviving a career-threatenin­g injury, Spar Proteas stalwart Zanele Vimbela is happy to be fit again and play elite netball.

In 2020, when playing for the Golden Fireballs in the Telkom Netball League, Vimbela suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which ruled her out for the whole of the following season.

The injury set her back as she could not join the Strathclyd­e Sirens in England’s netball league.

Even though she spent most of the season out, she did not lack any suitors in UK’s Netball Superleagu­e.

She was snapped up for the 2022 season by Loughborou­gh Lightning who were the defending champions.

She made 22 appearance­s in the season which in June as the team from Yorkshire lost out in the semifinals of the playoffs to Manchester Thunder.

After the UK season concluded, she hooked up with the Proteas at the Birmingham 2022 Commonweal­th Games and was part of the core that got contracts, making her an integral part of the team.

At the weekend in Pretoria, Vimbela was in the team that won the Spar Diamond Challenge, in which SA beat Scotland 54-36 in the final.

Being back on the court is something the tall defender is not taking lightly considerin­g how the rehab process of getting back to full fitness drained her mentally and physically.

“I’m still a work in progress, I have been through a tough time with rehab going through the injury,” said Vimbela speaking to Sowetan.

“Mentally it was challengin­g; you want to have the best preparatio­n to get into the team, especially when netball is evolving in terms of the game.

“It requires a high level of mental strength and physical preparatio­n, in terms of what you need to do to get back into the court,” she said about her journey to being fit.

The 33-year-old from Aliwal North shared what it takes to play at a top level.

”Getting there is hard enough, but staying there is harder. You have to be so consistent, you can’t drop the ball... It’s hard work, putting in the extras where you lack or know where you need to improve.

“It’s tough, but that’s what you’re there to do, that’s your job. That’s the level of competitio­n that you’re playing. You have to set the standards, and you can’t drop the ball.”

 ?? /REG CALDECOTT /GALLO IMAGES ?? Zanele Vimbela is relieved to return to action.
/REG CALDECOTT /GALLO IMAGES Zanele Vimbela is relieved to return to action.

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