Last October South Africa beat England at netball for the first time in 12 years, at a Tri-Nations tournament in Port Elizabeth. Before the game, the Proteas head coach Elize Kotze was asked what surprises she had in store for England.
She said that she was bringing Zanele Mdodana back into position.
Mdodana – who had missed out on a tour to England shortly before due to injury – didn’t disappoint.
She shone in front of her home crowd, which included her family and friends in a game that the Proteas eventually won 39-37.
The 30-year-old Mdodana remembers the moment well. “I remember the hunger – I was so hungry to play.”
It’s with the same hunger that Mdodana hopes to tackle the Commonwealth Games in July and the Netball World Cup next year (should she make the SA team) before finally hanging up her boots.
It has been a long and illustrious career. Mdodana made her Proteas debut in 2005.
She went on to represent the country in the under 20 and under 21 national teams, and later in the senior team, of which she was captain as well as vice-captain. In 2012 she captained the Proteas to a 47-43 win over Malawi, which inaugurated South Africa as the top netball team on the African continent.
“I’ve been to the Commonwealth Games, I’ve been to the World Cup, I’ve captained the side, I’m the most capped player in the side – it’s time for me to shift focus,” she says.
That shift in focus will be directed toward the Vision Girls Foundation that she initiated in 2011 to mentor young underprivileged girls at her church who want to play netball.
“My coach saw me when I was 10 years old. I see so much of me in them – they are absolutely talented, they have natural skill, they are thin, tall and so brilliant but they don’t realise how brilliant they are. I need to instil that belief into them.” — Fatima Asmal