Khanyisa Chawane of South Africa looks on during the semi final match between Australia and South Africa at M&S Bank Arena on July 20, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Khanyisa Chawane lost her mother when she was 14 and six years later the family’s house in Bushbuckridge burnt down, but the 23-yearold netballer is a shining example of someone rising above adversity.
Chawane was one of the younger members of South Africa’s squad at the Netball World Cup earlier this year and the centre is the understudy to Proteas captain Bongi Msomi, but she nevertheless impressed with her determined attitude whenever she got on court during their phenomenal run to the semifinals.
“Difficult circumstances don’t determine who you will be or where you will go, you can use them to become a better person and example. I love netball because it is an escape, but you also learn life lessons from it.
“For example, when you’re behind in a game but you still win, it teaches you that no matter how far away you are from your goal, it is always possible. Netball opens a lot of doors and it’s helped me become a person I never thought I would be,” Chawane says.
Born in Tzaneen and educated at Hoërskool Ben Vorster, Chawane played every code of sport she could in primary school, but her netball prowess showed midway through high school.
“At primary school you can’t really tell what your strongest sport is but I started to get serious about netball at high school. It was a school focused on sport so I had to choose. My mother was a great netballer in her time, and I get my talent from there. Then I made the SA U-17 team and I knew I had a future in netball,” Chawane says.
Leadership also features strongly among the many gifts Chawane has; she has a BSc in Geography and is currently completing her studies in agrometeorology at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.
She was the captain of the Hoërskool Ben Vorster team, the Limpopo U16s and then the SA U21 side.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve always had leadership qualities but I’ve served under a lot of leaders from whom I have learned so much – people like Karla Pretorius, Maryke Holtzhausen, Lauren-Lee Christians and Bongi Msomi now too. I’m still learning a lot from them.
“Whenever leadership does come, it is such a privilege and I just focus on serving, trying to be consistent and performing in any circumstances. That’s what makes a good leader, your actions in the present, it’s not always necessary to talk so much, you must lead by example. And treat people how you would want to be treated,” Chawane says.
She is being groomed for greater things in local netball and she has racked up a string of domestic honours on the way to her Proteas debut in 2018.
The international stage is tough for South Africans, most of whom are amateurs, and its vital that some sort of professional local league is set up if the Proteas are to maintain their progress.
“It was really amazing playing on the bigger stage, to go up against the best players. It was a great experience and it was great to perform against the top teams. To perform the way we did at the World Cup was a big move for the Proteas and I don’t think any team will look down on us again like Australia did when they came out with their bench players, they know we will be hard. It said a lot about our depth and our future, and of course the 2023 World Cup is here so we want to bring it home then.
“It helps having more domestic tournaments, with the Telkom League, the USSA tournament, Varsity Cup and the Spar National Championships we have netball all the year round. It teaches you to be competitive at all times, it challenges you to be at your best all the time, so that played a big part in our success. It’s going to help even more though if we can improve the intensity at these tournaments, that will help us compete even more at international level. For example, I play all four quarters of almost every game here, but I just play two at international level because of the intensity – it’s just so much higher.
“So we need a professional league,” Chawane says.
It’s nevertheless an exciting time for our netballers and with England, the team that beat the Proteas 58-42 in the bronze medal play-off at the World Cup, coming to South Africa for three Tests in Cape Town at the end of November, they should be back in the limelight soon.
It’s going to be a stage on which the tenacious Chawane is going to shine more and more.
For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.
BACK TO CITIZEN BACK TO PREMIUMJOIN PREMIUM
The Citizen. All rights