Bronwyn’s Back – And that’s Good News for Netball
In May 2003, it appeared that Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan’s netball career was over. The charismatic captain of the Spar South African team which was on a tour of Australia ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right leg.
She flew back to South Africa heavy-hearted in the knowledge that once again, she would miss the World Netball Championships in Kingston, Jamaica.
Bronwyn missed the 1999 World Championships in New Zealand after an attack of bronchitis prevented her from taking part in team trials. Although she went to the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, she was not part of the official team – she was one of three junior players taken along for experience, and to provide enough players for seven-on-seven match practices.
South Africa went on to win the silver medal in Birmingham, beating New Zealand in the semi-finals, and losing to Australia in the final.
But four years after her cruel injury, and after extensive surgery and rehabilitation, Bronwyn is back. She was named captain of the SPAR national team to play a three Test series against Malawi in July, and all being well, is almost certain to lead the team to the World Championships in Auckland in November.
“It’s been a long haul back,” said Bock-Jonathan. “Four years is a long time, and there were times when I wondered if I would ever make it back. I’m thrilled to be back in the team, and feel very honoured to be named captain again.”
Even though it has taken her a long time to get back into the team, Bronwyn has not been idle. She has been working on her PhD, which will be submitted in October. She already has an impressive academic record, with two Honours degrees, in Psychology and in Sports Science, and a Masters degree in Sports Science.
In 2004, she was one of five winners at an international Young Researchers Seminar in Innsbruck, Austria.
Her research for her Masters degree focussed on High Performance in sport, and her doctorate looks at the effect of movement programmes and movement competency on the self-esteem and resilience of teenage girls – a topic of great importance at a time when the growth in teenage pregnancies, particularly in the Western Cape, is assuming alarming proportions.
Bronwyn believes psychology is very important in every sport.“At an elite level, we are all physically fit and well-prepared. What is most important at that level is mental toughness. The team that is better prepared mentally is the team that will prevail,” says Bronwyn.
She believes netball in South Africa has gone through a metamorphosis since 12 white players went to Birmingham and won the Silver Medal.
“Those players had been together for a long time. They had just been waiting for the go-ahead to take part in those championships, and once they had the go-ahead, they were prepared and they were hungry.”
She says netball is not yet totally transformed according to the needs of post-apartheid South Africa. “I think we have to find a balance between talking, and having meetings and putting those things into practice.
“But the problem is we need continuity. The coaching staff and the squads have changed a number of times since 95. There are valid reasons for this, but until we have continuity, we won’t win the big games – the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. We need a four-year plan, and we should be planning now for 2007.”
Bronwyn’s life isn’t just netball, though. She has a 20-month old son, Jordan, who is the joy of her life. Her husband, Marvin Jonathan, has just been recalled to the South African baseball team, so juggling their sporting needs is something of a balancing act.
But the good news is Bronwyn is back, and that can only be good news for South African netball.