FOR the better part of her early life, Sibekezelo Ncube envisaged a professional life in track and field as she was a talented sprinter.
Between 2012 and 2015, Ncube was a sprinting protégée at Msiteli High School in Mpopoma as she used to represent her institution at provincial and national competitions.
Blessed with a towering frame, the young sprinter certainly had a bright future in track and field but that all changed when she suffered a knee injury while in training.
The 21-year-old’s dreams of representing the country at international competitions were swept away as the injury curtailed her sprinting career before it had even really lifted off.
“Suffering a knee injury really hurt; it appeared my whole world was crumbling because you know being an athlete, the last thing that you would want to experience is getting the slightest discomfort on your knee, groin or ankle,” Ncube told the Daily News on Sunday.
“For me, it had a very huge impact on my athleticism because I went for a whole good year writhing in pain and I’m sure I would have done wonders in athletics had it not been for this career-ending injury.”
While track and field was her number one love, Ncube had used her free time to play netball as a leisure pursuit.
It was during that year in pain dealing with the knee injury that Ncube gravitated towards netball again.
“While I was trying to come to terms with the handicap, I would spend most of my time watching the other girls play netball and that’s how I developed a strong interest in the sport,” Ncube said.
“Four years ago, I tried my luck in the sport inspired by the now-retired national team shooter Pauline Jani; she’s not very tall but a very athletic and an assured shooter by birth.”
After a period of despair, netball turned out to be Ncube’s saviour as it has opened up doors and given her a career to look forward to.
She is now on the books of Zvishavane-based Platinum Queens after joining from Goldreef in 2019 and is also on a scholarship at Sobukhazi High School where she’s completing her ‘‘A’’ Levels.
“With the help of my coach Sibonginkosi Tshuma who polished the gem in me at Unshaded Netball Academy, I then got a scholarship at Sobukhazi and I will forever be grateful to my coach for identifying and nurturing my talent,” Ncube said.
Despite the positive outlook netball has provided in Ncube’s life, she needed to seriously convince her mother that this is the direction she wanted to take.
“My dad has been supportive right from the start but my mum disapproved of my netball passion because she did not trust any sport after that injury I had in athletics,” she said.
“She believed netball was more dangerous and I could get an injury worse than the one I got in athletics.”
In her first season with Platinum Queens in the Rainbow Amateur Netball League (Ranl), Ncube helped the side finish in second place and is now hungry for more success.
“Success does not come on a silver platter; you have to work hard for it and believe in yourself.
“To those who want to pursue both academic and sporting careers, strive to find a balance for the two because all of them are equally important in shaping your life,” she said.
“When we grow older, we are bound to move into other sectors which require standard education, thus, it is prudent to make sure you also focus academically as there is always life after netball or any other sport.
“Education is not an obstacle but a complement to the sport.”