In this Power of Recognition series, we delve into the prolific career of Ministerial Award recipient, Spar Proteas captain and Golden Fireballs Division 1 Telkom Netball League winner, Bongi Msomi, who is paving the way for future stars through her legacy programme.
Msomi, who guided the Fireballs team to their first-ever Division 1 Telkom Netball League title on Sunday, 19 June 2022, is on a mission to use to her expertise to ensure that the youth has access to both education and sport.
The Bongi Msomi Legacy Project currently runs three programmes including an upskilling project, academic support program and the BMLP League.
Apart from assisting the youth, Msomi is also upskilling coaches and is looking to upskill umpires this year.
The #GAL2021 Newsmakers recipient has been widely recognised and awarded for her contributions both on and off the court, saying: “It is something that I cannot put into words to make one fully understand what it’s like to be honoured for doing what I feel is my responsibility to those looking up to me!”
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Msomi chats about her role as SuperSport Schools Ambassador and reveals those who have supported her journey to date.
Bongi, good to catch up with you! We understand that you have been ploughing back to develop the next generation of stars. What are you currently working on?
The Bongi Msomi Legacy Project announced its own Academics Support called BMLP Academics Support Program. The aim for this is to educate every kid out there (those who need assistance) to understand their academic options based on their field of study and APS score (points).
Most learners, especially from rural areas and townships, are not aware of the application processes, registration, and bursary options for tertiary institution education which leads to them not furthering their studies. We saw the need in assisting as best as we possibly can, and we already have a group of more than 30 learners we are helping, and these numbers grow on a daily basis as more people become aware of the program.
We also host our BMLP League Tournament in Hammarsdale and this is one of our big projects we’ve been working on. The idea is to create a space where we will educate athletes through sport (netball) and this platform allows us to gather as many young athletes as we can in one space through our program. It is open to anyone who would like to join, and it is for free. Following this will be the next dates for the league with all other relevant information which will be shared on our BMLP social media platforms.
Last but not least, we have the BMLP Upskilling Program where we create opportunities for the players within our organization & structure to learn and grow, also to experience the other side of sport (Administration & Coaching).
BMLP now has 5x Level 1 coaches, 1x level 2 Coach and myself with a level 3 coaching certificate – all coaches are accredited by Netball South Africa. All 7 of our coaches were fully funded by BMLP and they all assist in growing our program and giving back to the community. They also play vital roles within our various programs.
Please tell us about your role as SuperSport Schools Ambassador and what has been your highlight moment to date as you engage with the youth.
Being a SuperSport Ambassador is being the light and hope for up-and-coming super stars. My role is to be involved in SuperSport Schools plans, programs and to advise and give ideas that would assist and empower the generation to come through sport.
Also, to promote the SuperSport Schools programs and give as many people a chance of being part of such an amazing platform.
So far, my biggest highlight has to be the St Andrews and St Stithians Festival which happened recently. These festivals made me realize how much of an impact elite/professional athletes can have to up and coming athletes. It also made me realize even more that this is where and how talent is identified and nurtured. SuperSport Schools have been fantastic in broadcasting such events and reaching out to the masses. I have never seen such before and it is great to say, this is only the beginning.
In your opinion, why is it important for athletes to give back whether it is through financial support, coaching or mentorship?
I am a product of someone who was fully supported through my sporting journey (through financial support, coaching and mentorship) from school to where I am today. I know exactly what this does to an athlete as it is something I will forever strive to do in hope of changing someone’s life for the better. I honestly believe mine did.
There are a number of athletes out there who have the talent and just need guidance and motivation and I can only imagine if they could get the support from the people they look up to, what that can do!
The knowledge and experience the athletes gain in their journey is priceless. Sharing these together with all the stories, challenges, and their struggles sends a true reflection of what being an athlete is to the generations to come.
This is the reason I started the Bongi Msomi Legacy Project and whether we were funded or not, I was going to start it, because at the end of the day, it is my responsibility to guide and groom the next generation.
What more can we expect from you in terms of your Bongi Msomi Legacy Program?
BMLP Upskilling Project – We upskilled our coaches last year (all NSA level 1, 2 and 3) and we looking to upskill umpires this year and will also ensure the team is upskilled in First Aid.
BMLP Academic Support Program – We would like this program to grow where we can provide academic bursaries to students who are unable to get funding through the different schemes. We want a higher pass rate at schools which allows all our players entry to tertiary education. We are extremely adamant on moulding student-athletes, and not just athletes.
BMLP League – With this inaugural league in Hammarsdale, the hope is to take it to all the provinces (if allowed) with an annual national tournament that hosts teams from different provinces fully funded by BMLP and its partners.
The ultimate goal for BMLP is to have our very own academy, where we house, educate and train young student-athletes so that they create a better future for themselves and their families. The academy will also offer job creation for those who come up through the program. This is something we are always working towards and getting there through baby steps.
You have earned recognition on various platforms from the Momentum gsport Awards to being announced as African Athlete Ambassador by World Netball. Please tell us about the power of recognition and what it means to you when you are honoured for your contributions to sport both on and off the court.
It is something that I cannot put into words to make one fully understand what it’s like to be honoured for doing what I feel is my responsibility to those looking up to me! I have never participated in sport to be recognised but to enjoy what I am doing and making sure I do it with integrity, honesty and respect, whether that is in netball or my personal life.
I also understand that hard work and dedication is required in all that I do, if I want to be the best version of myself.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to stick to my principles and character throughout my journey which is not always easy but always felt it is the right thing to do.
Who are the people you would like to thank for walking your journey with you, which has seen you become is beacon of hope for many young girls in South Africa?
There are so many people who I would like to list here, and the list would include a number of teammates, coaches, managers, my community, my supporters, mentors, departments and sponsors for various reasons! I constantly look back and appreciate everyone I work/worked with and can proudly say I always had and still having the best time as the journey continues.
Allow me to be bias and say thank you to my mom, dad in heaven, Thisha, my partner and my whole family and friends who closely experience, especially all the hardships with me, but fully back me up so we all appreciate the good times.
All these people played and still play a huge role in my career. Grateful for so many recognitions including being part of Roc Nation Sports International. The Roc Fam plays a huge role in looking after Bongi on and off the court which allows me to live my dream, fully focus and be the best I can be with their support – especially for my family and my project as well which are very close to my heart.
The 2023 Netball World Cup preparations are well underway which has seen the likes of SuperSport, Telkom and SABC join hands to broadcast the global showpiece. What were your initial thoughts when it was announced that the three had come together to ensure that there will be ample media coverage?
This gave me goosebumps!!! We understand the impact that major broadcasters have in growth of sport especially for netball which is semi-professional. This gives hope and the road to becoming professional seems realistic and much easier with all the support presented.
After all, one wants choices to be part of positive change. Even if it is not me initially making positive impacts like these in netball, the wish is to leave the space so good for the ones after us that they get to enjoy the seed planted in our time.
Credit to Netball South Africa and all involved for a job well done. Not forgetting the old and the current Spar Proteas Team (all management involved) for their efforts in ensuring certain standards are met at all costs.
With South Africa hosting the event, is the team feeling any pressure to win the World Cup and how are you as a leader of the team making sure that you keep the team focussed on the plans put in place?
To be honest, the Commonwealth Games at this stage is the main focus from the players’ minds. At this point, the hard work is being put in to ensure that we have a good go at the Games, then to get excited about the big one! Sport teaches us to take everything one step at a time. It is very important that we practise not to be at World Cup before we are actually there.
Having said all of this, of course we are excited about the World Cup being hosted in our own backyard. Feeling pressure is normal. We understand the magnitude of the event being hosted in our home soil. With the sponsors coming on board, assisting us in certain aspects of our preparations (which is highly required), it is the commitment and hard work that we are willing to give to ensure that we are well prepared when the time comes.
What is your greatest ambition for netball in South Africa?
Firstly, for it to turn professional and for netball to be a tool to holistically develop the player, child, athlete and coach. The future of an athlete goes beyond sport but the fundamentals of this development starts now.
Photo 1 Caption: Spar Proteas captain, Bongi Msomi, previously pictured on the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards stage where she was honoured with a Ministerial Recipient Award. Photo: gsport