Lerato Bonokwane Aims for Top Coaching Role in Softball

by | May 6, 2022

North West Senior Ladies Head Coach Lerato Bonokwane aims to become one of the top coaches in South Africa.

The Sports Science graduate from Ikageng in Potchefstroom, coaches softball in the local area and at schools.

She believes that being an athlete in the country is one of the biggest opportunities one will find.

Some of her highlights include representing NWU (Mahikeng Campus) at Nationals and being appointed the assistant coach for SA’s national junior ladies team in 2017.

Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Bonokwane chats about her journey and shares advice for aspiring athletes.

Lerato, thank you for chatting to us. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Thank you for having me. My name is Lerato Bonokwane and I am from Ikageng, Potchefstroom. Born 1987, 25 December. I am a mother to a beautiful 2-year-old prince named Omosa. A graduate of Sport Science. I am a member of North West Softball Association (NWSA) and currently the Head Coach of North West Senior Ladies. I coach softball in my local area including schools as well. In addition to that, I am the Assistant Coach for South Africa’s National Softball Junior ladies’ team.

When and where did your love for sport begin?

It began at Primary level in 1996 at the age of 9, where I played multi-coded sports.

When did you start to love softball in particular and did you play?

Initially I was a baseball player and played softball in seasons. I fell in love with softball at North West University (Mafikeng Campus). I am still playing for Ikageng Black Panthers softball club that is part of the running league of the province run by NWSA.

What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

Some of the challenges I have faced are:

Visibility and respect.

The struggle to balance the demands and desires of family life. Lack of training facilities. Not having support from home. Lack of playing equipment.

I have always taught myself to use what I have and learned how to multi task. Also taught myself not to give up and make use of every opportunity I get in life.

What are some of your highlights?

Playing for the University team during Nationals and in 2017 during National Schools Summer games where I was appointed as the Assistant coach for South Africa’s National softball junior ladies’ team.

In your opinion how is the state of softball in the North West Province?

The province is growing every year. Last year we (NWSA) launched softball in Taung and it was a success. We have 16 teams currently playing league side within the province run by NWSA.

Who are some of the sportswomen you admire and why?

Regirl Ngobeni: Educator and Banyana Banyana Goalkeeper. Former varsity friend.

Dr Koketjo Tsebe: Practising Clinical Psychologist. Works in UNISA and also team psychologist for South Africa’s National softball team. She serves as a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) High performance psychology working group.

They both have balanced sports with academics and they’ve been top performers in class while involved in sport. They’ve always kept balance and pursued their goals by not giving up.

What does it mean to be an athlete in South Africa, playing sport that isn’t popular?

Softball is a huge sport with different great opportunities. One of the biggest organizations, we fall under is Softball South Africa (SSA). The organization fund developing provinces to run their leagues in preparation to the National Provincial Championships (NPC).

Being an athlete in South Africa is one of the biggest opportunities one will find. Women are setting the bar high and more girls are participating in sport more than before.

This gives great opportunity for players because softball is part of the Olympics. So this is a big moment for the country.

You recently came back from the National Provincial Championships in Cape Town. How was the experience?

It was a beautiful experience especially leading the team as the Head Coach for the first time. I’ve learned a lot and willing to learn new things on this amazing journey. This has also contributed positively to my growth.

What is your greatest ambition?

To pursue my goals in Coaching and becoming one of the top coaches the country has ever had.

And, to leave a mark for the coming generation.

What is it that people do not know about you?

I am softer and shy than what I look.

What do you think media can do to amplify softball?

To have the same volume like our soccer and netball.

To have sports shows that make women needed and valued.

Have a 30 minute softball slot weekly so that people can be more aware of the sport and take interest.

Apart from coaching, what keeps you going to continue playing?

The love and respect I get from young players, it is the look in their eyes that makes me strive more and motivates me more to help them become good athletes.

If you weren’t playing softball where would one most likely find you?

In a classroom recruiting athletes to join softball.

What is your advice to aspiring athletes?

Your social and economic background do not determine your future.

Hard work and determination will get you further in life.

Never doubt yourself and do not limit yourself when you want something that will benefit your growth.

Remember there is something powerful inside of you, use it.

Last one, education is the most import key to every door in life, make use of it.

 

Photo 1 Caption: North West Senior Ladies Head Coach Lerato Bonokwane aims to become one of the top coaches in South Africa. Photo: Supplied

 

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