Sanmarie Visser: “My Only Aspiration is to Play for the Proteas”

U21 Proteas player Sanmarie Visser was a keen athlete from an early again, and now pursuing a BCom Marketing at NWU’s Potch campus, the award-winning sports-mad netballer has her eye on playing for the national team in the near future. All Photos: Supplied

Born into a sports-loving family, Sanmarie Visser’s passion for netball was evident from the very beginning, and having already caught the eyes of the U21 Spar Proteas selectors, this NWU-Potch BCom Marketing student has her sights on representing South Africa in the senior national team.

Choosing netball as her primary focus over a promising talent for cross country and field athletics, Visser has achieved remarkable success, receiving Player of the Match awards and even the coveted Varsity Cup Player of the Tournament award in 2023.

Speaking with Tlamelo for this interview, Visser shared her journey from her small-town beginnings to playing for the North West Flames and NWU, and reflects on the challenges she has faced, her admiration for fellow sportswomen, and her ultimate dream of representing the Proteas.

Visser acknowledges the crucial role of Telkom in sponsoring the Netball League and its role in empowering women in the sport, and shares her experiences of overcoming challenges, balancing studies and netball, and her admiration for South African sportswoman Karla Pretorius.

Join us as we delve deeper into Sanmarie’s story!

Sanmarie, thank you for chatting to us- Please tell us about yourself and where you are from?

I was born in Upington, Northern Cape, and finished high school there. We are four children in my family, two brothers and a sister, and we all love sport. From a very young age, I competed in athletics, netball and cross country. My competitiveness increased with every match, game and race. I am currently a third year B. Com Marketing student at NWU and netball is a very important part of my life.

When and where did your love for sports begin and why netball?

I was born into a sport crazy family. My father played rugby till he was 45 years old, and my mother played netball, even when she was pregnant with my eldest brother. Since I can remember, my two brothers always had a ball in their hand, and our TV was always on a sport channel. 

My whole family love sport, and my parents motivated and supported us a lot. From U12 I was a SA athlete in discus and middle distances, as well as a provincial netball player till the end of my matric year. I had to choose between athletics and netball when I went to NWU in 2022. The choice was easy, because netball has always been my first choice. I have a passion for netball. I sleep, eat and play it!

You play for the North West Flames and NWU, what has been some of your highlights playing for those teams?

It was a great privilege for me to play for the Flames and NWU from my first year on. Something I will always remember was the first time in my first year on a Flames weekend when we stayed with all the teams in one hotel. It was like my little-girl dream came true to stay at the same hotel with all the senior Proteas.

It was amazing for me to receive a few Player of the Match awards in my second year in both the TNL and Varsity Cup tournaments. The highlight of my career thus far was when I received the Varsity Cup Player of the Tournament award, in 2023. I never thought, in my wildest dreams … Again, another dream came true!

The friends you become with your teammates are also amazing. You spend most of your time with them, on or off court.

What are your thoughts of the work that Telkom is doing on sponsoring the Netball League?

It is great that there is a loyal and dedicated sponsor for netball that promotes the sport and empowers women across the country. 

They invest in the development of the sport at various levels, and they create opportunities for women to excel, and help inspire and uplift several netball players.

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

I came from a very small netball playing province. We were always the underdogs at big tournaments. For me, to catch the eyes of the selectors and scouts, was a huge challenge. Through very hard work and total dedication to my dream I overcome a lot of challenges to be where I am today. 

“Netball, like any competitive sport, can also be mentally challenging. You have to face pressure from high-stakes matches, expectations, and intense competition. Maintaining focus, dealing with stress, and overcoming setbacks are crucial to perform.”

Playing netball at a professional level also requires significant commitment and dedication. You must maintain a good balance between training schedules, physical conditioning, traveling and your studies. You must manage these aspects, alongside personal life.

When you look at the Netball leagues outside of South Africa, where do you see the best work being done to promote Netball to the youth?

For me according to the media, it looks like Australia and New Zealand are doing a great job, but personally I feel that SA is right up there with them. 

Who is the one South African sportswoman you admire, and what makes her contribution in national colours special?

Karla Pretorius is my role model since I was a little girl. She made her debut for the Proteas in 2011, and still is a Protea. 

She has the ability to read the game, and is rock solid on defence. She became also the first South African to play in Australia’s Super Netball competition, and I think she is world class!

Every netball player aspires to play for the national team: If you had to play for a team other than South Africa, which team would you love to play for abroad, and why?

At this moment my only aspiration is to play for the Proteas, but the ultimate dream will be to play for the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia.

Netball SA has been making big moves in signing players on contracts, what’s your take on the work of the organisation and how important is it to give players contracts?

It is a great motivation for netball players. You can’t be a professional if you still need to work an eight to five job to keep ends meet. A contract gives you the ability to focus 100% on being a professional sports woman. 

What is your greatest career ambition?

At this moment of my life, my greatest goal is to become a Spar Protea. It would be a dream come true and a great reward for my hard work and total dedication to netball.


Main Photo Caption: U21 Proteas player Sanmarie Visser was a keen athlete from an early again, and now pursuing a BCom Marketing at NWU’s Potch campus, the award-winning sports-mad netballer has her eye on playing for the national team in the near future. All Photos: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: “At this moment my only aspiration is to play for the Proteas.” All Photos: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: “Netball, like any competitive sport, can also be mentally challenging. You have to face pressure from high-stakes matches, expectations, and intense competition. Maintaining focus, dealing with stress, and overcoming setbacks are crucial to perform.” All Photos: Supplied

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