The preparations of the Spar Proteas for the 2023 Vitality Netball World Cup are taking shape, as Boitumelo Mahloko gears up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent her country at a World Cup played on home soil.
For the 22-year-old goal defender from Polokwane, Limpopo, playing for the national team is an honour.
“To be part of the team that’s going to play the World Cup in Cape Town is huge,” she told Vuk’uzenzele with excitement.
Mahloko’s dream of representing South Africa and donning green and gold was almost dashed in 2019 when she suffered a knee injury that forced her off the court for a year.
“I wasn’t able to walk or play. I had to have surgery.”
The road to recovery after surgery was hard. It required a strong mindset, discipline and the ability to focus on what lay ahead.
Having fully recovered, Mahloko now looks back with gratitude.
Reflecting on her life she recalls how she grew up in a household with cabinets full of trophies and walls adorned with pictures of her mother who was also a provincial and national netball player.
By the age of six, Mahloko was already playing netball in primary school.
When she turned nine, Mahloko was playing for Rising Stars Netball Club, which was run and owned by the now president of Netball South Africa, Cecilia Molokwane.
Mahloko never looked back and this star has been rising ever since.
She went on to captain the South Africa under-16 team. In 2017, she was the vice-captain of the under-20 Region Five Games in Botswana.
She became a Baby Proteas player from 2020 until 2021.
She joined the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Netball team in 2021. Mahloko holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UJ.
“Netball has changed my life in so many ways. I have been in one of the top schools for free due to netball scholarships.
“How I carry myself and live right now is all thanks to netball,” she told Vuk’uzenzele.
She is grateful for all the opportunities and wants other girls to also chase their dreams.
“Women need to grab every opportunity and never feel like we don’t deserve it.” Mahloko said she would like to open a sports academy one day as a way of giving her community the resources she wished for when growing up.
Did you know?
- The Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 will be hosted in the Western Cape, Cape Town from 28 July to 6 August 2023.
- Sixteen teams from across the five world netball regions will compete in the event which is played in three stages.