Male participation in netball on the rise in Thembisa

Image of Olian Mampuru playing netball
Olian Mampuru playing netball

By Dumisani Hlatswayo

Phomolong – Most people are still intrigued when they see men playing netball. But seeing men playing netball has become a norm in Thembisa. Olian Mampuru Thobejane is another passionate netball player from Phomolong Section. The 35-year-old player studied in Phomolong primary school and matriculated at Masiqhakaze secondary school. He has been playing netball for 18 years now, and there is no sign that he is about to retire anytime soon.

Thobejane credits playing netball for his self-discipline, and staying away from trouble. “Looking back on how I grew up, a lot would have gone wrong, but netball kept me away from the streets. I think netball is not just a sport, it is a life orientation,” he said.

Thobejane has played for several teams in Thembisa, including the Chasers Netball team and Ekurhuleni Netball District. But things have not always been smooth for his netball career. There were several challenges that Thobejane has to navigate.

“The biggest challenge was funding and sponsorship. You have to travel to training, games, and national championships. And you’d need the right shoes. Most companies are still reluctant to support male netball. It is still a predominantly female sport, and it’s quite a struggle to get support especially knowing that netball is a non-paying sport for males,” he said.

Thobejane makes sure that he trains hard. He said he constantly works on his fitness, which involves body conditioning and training three times a week. “I usually reserve weekends for game days, both leagues and tournaments, and eat healthily,” he revealed.

His future aspirations include representing the country nationally and nurturing young talent locally. “Just like football, I would love to run the country’s biggest netball academy. I would love to get our children off the streets and on the court,” he concluded.

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