Kamogelo Maseko is living her wildest dreams. Being drafted as part of the 24 Netball South Africa contracted players is what she views as her biggest achievement in netball so far, however, the Soweto-born still has big dreams of making her name on world netball.
Although her sport of choice was football in her early years, the lack of a girls' team at her school nudged her towards the court and she has never looked back.
“All the girls were playing netball so I chose netball because of peer pressure. When I got to high school I had a choice and I chose to continue with netball because of the journey that I had gone through in the seven years of my primary school,” says Maseko.
Netball SA’s move to contract players also allows them to focus on being better athletes by putting in more work on the court and training but also this helps makes easier the lives of players by not having to worry about income and financial obligations.
“Being contracted is the biggest milestone in my netball career because it’s done for the first time in our country. Being contracted also means that we are getting paid which means I can also be able to provide at home. I never thought I would be able to achieve something like this at this age. Contracts always have pressure for one to perform, you are expected to perform. The contract is a way of the federation to show that they appreciate,” she says.
The Gauteng Jaguars player became one of the youngest players to debut for the Spar Proteas when she took to the court during a test match between South Africa and the Malawi Queens in 2020. She was 18 years old. As the 2023 Netball World Cup is approaching, the 20-year-old would like to be a part of the historic team that will play in the global competition on home soil, however, she understands that getting into the final 12 will not be an easy run.
“The growth that I have had in the past two years has made the difference. It’s going because I don’t have the international experience of a World Cup and of the first world country teams like Australia, New Zealand and England. Honestly, it’s about consistency at this point and hard work. For the upcoming tournaments (Diamond Challenge and Quad Series) we have been working hard as a group in Stellenbosch, both full-time and part-time, so to get an opportunity to play in one of those tournaments would really be a good foundation for me especially given that I don’t have the international experience. It would change a lot of things in terms of my game but we will see,” she explains.
“A lot of my achievements came at an early age. I would say to any athlete, you must always be prepared, and work so hard so that by the time the opportunity comes, you are ready. When I was in Grade 8 in high school, I made a five-year goal plan, and being part of the national team was part of the goal only to learn that five years later I would be part of the team,” she adds.
The cancellation of the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup in Fiji due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, deprived players like Maseko to get a taste of international netball at the junior level. The mini training camps hosted by NSA and Proteas coaches, Dorette Badenhorst
exposes players like Maseko to experienced players like Lenize Potgieter, Ine-Mari Venter, Phumza Maweni and Bongiwe Msomi to learn from.
“We have been building a connection, she (Lenize) has been so patient and the biggest lesson that I have learnt from her is to always set goals for yourself. She always sets the goal to get a 100 per cent average, being around such talent as Ine-Mari and Lenize is influencing me positively and I am gaining a lot of knowledge from being with them,” she says.
Even with the contracts from the national federation, playing professional club netball is still a dream for many. The former Gauteng Golden Fireballs player also aspires to catch the eye of overseas teams, whether in the Vitality Super League or the Suncorp Super Netball.
“If I am consistent in my playing, discipline and commitment to my country, then fingers crossed, I will hopefully make it internationally,” she says.
Her former club ended her current team Telkom Netball League dominance in the final of the competition. The Jaguars were out to win their sixth consecutive title however the Dr. Elsje Jordaan-led side broke the hearts of the Tshwane team to win their first-ever title. She crossed floors after moving from Joburg to Pretoria.
“It was very hard because there were expectations given the team’s winning culture and dynamics. Expectations were high and the pressure to perform. We lost in the final and that was a bitter pill to swallow especially because we had been consistently working hard in all our games. But I achieved my goal and got two player-of-the-match awards throughout the tournament. It was very hard but I enjoyed every moment of the TNL,” she remembers.