Hard work pays off for star netball players

Cleopatra Omele, right, from Khayelitsha, has been called up to the national under-21 side following trials in Pretoria last week. Shes been included in the squad preparing to take part in next years under-21world cup in Fiji. Renisha Daniels, left, from Mitchells Plain, also took part in the trials, but did not make the cut. Daniels has been included in the Cape Tornadoes side for the upcoming Telkom Netball League.

Consistency has been the key
to Cleopatra Omele’s success
on and off the netball court. 

The lanky defender had just
returned from an SA under-21
training camp, held at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance
Centre, in preparation for next
year’s under-21 world cup in Fiji. 
Four players from across the city
were invited to attend these trials,
with Omele, 19, being the only one
who made the final cut. 
Her prospects of going to next
year’s world cup in Fiji received
a welcome boost when she was
included in a squad of 16 hopefuls
that will be prepared for next year’s
world cup. 
A first year student at Varsity College, Omele already represented
South Africa at an international
under-18 tournament, in Australia,
in 2018, while at Bosmansdam
High School, in Bothasig.
Bosmansdam First Team netball
coach, Tanja Vermeulen, remembers the first time she spotted
Omele’s tall figure in 2015 like it
was yesterday. 
Upon seeing the exceptionally
tall girl walk past her classroom
door, she quickly rushed out and
shouted: “Hey Tall Girl”.
The tall girl stopped in her
tracks, turned around and walked
back to Vermeulen. 
“When I asked her if she plays
netball, Tall Girl said that she did
“My reply to her was, well, now
you do,” Vermeulen said, followed
by an instruction that she promptly
put her name on the list for netball
trials for the school’s under-19A
Fast forward five years and that
same girl is now poised for bigger
things and has her former coach
beaming with pride. 
Vermeulen says she likes to keep
tabs on her players, whether current or former and that nothing
pleases her more than to see them
excel on court.
“I love walking alongside them
during their netball career. Sometimes we all land up playing for
the same team. 
Cleo and I played
together in a Super League Action
Netball Team in 2019,” she said. 
Blessed with a combination of
height and athletic ability, Omele
has also excelled as a Western Province high jumper while at primary
“However, it’s really her strong
work ethic that got her to where
she is today,” says Vermeulen. 
“An amazing fact of Cleo is that
she only started playing netball in
2015. She had never played netball
before that and we had to train
exceptionally hard to get her to
where she is today. From never playing netball
to playing first team netball. She
worked extremely hard at every
single practise and attended every
practise session and every match,
even though she had to travel
a long distance to get home to
In terms of starting off a little
bit later than her peers, Omele
admires SA senior national player,
Phumza Maweni, who also started
playing netball late in life , picking
up the game in her mid-20s, yet
went on to achieve great things
with the Proteas. 
Maweni went from playing
social netball in Khayelitsha
to joining a club in Bellville
and ultimately getting her
national call-up at age 29,
at a time when most players
her age are at their peak
or would consider the prospect of retirement. 
Like her rolemodel, Omele,
also plays on defence and hopes
to emulate Maweni’s rise to the
top. But, unlike the veteran player,
Omele, despite her own late start,
is only at the beginning of her
international career. 
That said, she considers comparisons with Maweni, who currently plays on the Australian pro
circuit, a compliment
“I’ve been told, I remind people
of her,” the young player said,
somewhat shyly.
“Hopefully, one day, I’ll also be
part of the senior South African
side,” Omela said. 
● In other netball news, Renisha Daniels,19, from Mitchell’s
Plain, also attended the national
under-21 team trials in Pretoria,
but did not make the final cut. 
However, said Daniels, she’s
happy to have been included in
the Tornadoes side for the upcoming Telkom Netball League (TNL).
“Even though 2020 was basically
the year netball was cancelled, I
saw it as an opportunity to better
myself. I thought the year would
end horribly but actually it turned
out quite highlighted,” she said.
“And, even though I didn’t
make the naional under-21 squad,
I’m still hopeful to make the team
that will take part in next year’s
under-21 world cup in Fiji,” she
The TNL will be held in Bloemfontein next month, following
an announcement from Netball
South Africa.
Initially, the tournament was
supposed to have taken place in
May over a six-week period in three
provinces but was postponed due
to the Covid-19 pandemic and the
eventual lockdown. 
Cape Town will be represented
by the Tornadoes and the Southern Stings, which feature players
from the Winelands area. 
Cape Netball Federation chairperson, Marsha Wagenaar, said
the province have been given the
go-ahead to resume regular netball
activities subject to adhering to
Covid-19 protocols. 
“We’ve received permission
from Netball South Africa to
resume netball activities and will
host a tournament for seniors,
under-21 and men’s teams, in Bellville, in October,” she said