Former Protea on a Netball Mission

It’s early morning, but the early birds are there too, eager for professional instruction at Elize Kotze’s Raloka netball training facility. Gauteng North netball coach Elize Kotze is on a mission – she wants to empower the girls and women of South Africa through netball. Kotze, who has been appointed by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) to promote netball in Africa, says she believes netball has the ability to change lives.

Former national netball coach Kotze leads the way.“Netball put me on an aeroplane for the first time in my life, and gave me the opportunity to travel and see places I would otherwise not have seen,” says Kotze, who was vice captain of the Proteas team that won the silver medal at the World Netball Championships in Birmingham in 1995.

Since 2001, Kotze and her husband Martin have run a netball training facility “Raloka” on their property near Pretoria, and more than 3 500 netball players and coaches visit the facility every year to have what Kotze calls “the ultimate netball experience.”

Raloka, which means “to play”, started with two netball courts and 20 bunk beds. It can now accommodate 200 players. There are four all-weather courts and two grass courts, a swimming pool and an adventure and obstacle course for team-building exercises.

“I have seen girls who come to Raloka with no confidence leave with stars in their eyes because for the first time in their lives they have been told they are someone,” she says. “They won’t necessarily become great netball players, but I believe the Raloka experience helps them to find their place in the sun.”

The game is physical, but winning is all theory. Students listen attentively as the finer secrets are explained. But although she has influenced thousands of young women over the past 10 years, the former coach of the SPAR Proteas women’s national netball teams wants to do even more.

“Just about every girl in South Africa has played netball at some time,” she explains.  “After soccer, netball is the sport with the most participants in South Africa, and I want to see it receive the status and profile it deserves, not only in South Africa but in Africa as a whole.  I believe Africa is a sleeping netball giant that just needs to be awakened.”

Who’s first? The girls get their chance to analyze a colleague’s example. As Ifna representative, Kotze plans to take the game to places where it has not been before. “I want to organise street netball in the townships and weekend netball coaching clinics in supermarket car parks.

“My aim is to help develop coaches in the most remote areas, distribute equipment throughout the country and spread the gospel of the game that changed my life and gave me opportunities,” concludes Kotze.

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Kass Naidoo

Kass Naidoo

Passionate sports broadcaster and founder of gsport4girls

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