Their unbeaten run this season, and boasting a total of five provincial players in their first team squad, is fast allowing Khayelitsha’s Cleopatra Omele, 15, and her Bosmansdam High School teammates to cement their position as one of the top netballing schools in the area.
With their intention of establishing a training academy programme at the school in the near future, they may soon be able to lay claim to that title outright.
Although they all qualified for various age groups, the four provincial players selected in 2016 all don their school’s colours in the first side. With two of the four making it to the Western Cape side that will compete at the national championships at the end of the month, the team is a force to be reckoned with.
The first step was making it onto the Western Province sides, as Cleopatra and teammates Jaime Harris, 13, Haigha Groenewald, 15, and Chi-Chi Adetshina, 15, were all able to do across various age-group teams.
Standing head and shoulders above her teammates, Cleopatra, who had to be coaxed into the sport by her coach last year, also graces the WP team, at the under-16 level, as a goalkeeper.
“There is a lot of competition in my position and a lot of schools like De Kuilen and Brackenfell have really good goalkeepers. It’s not easy because all the girls are really tall and that is what the selectors are looking for.
“This was my second time making the WP team. I know I must work as hard as I can and I just want to win as many games as possible when we play Boland,” she said.
Bosmansdam principal Danie Human believes the success the players are seeing on the court and other sports fields comes from a dedication from the various coaches at the school, who are all teachers, as the school believes in an in-house approach to coaching.
“All coaching is done by our staff members. They don’t receive additional remuneration for their time, they do it because they care about the well-being of their pupils and have a passion for what they do.
“The success of our first team netballers has been in no small part due to the hard work their coach, Tanja Vermeulen, has put in over the past few seasons. Ms Vermeulen is a Western Province player herself and has done wonders for our netball programme.
“We feel that we are establishing ourselves as the go-to netball school in the area and, in 2017, we will be launching the Knights Netball Academy, under the supervision of Ms Vermeulen. We wish our girls well for the various provincial tournaments they will be taking part in in the holidays and know they will make us proud,” he said.
Haigha and Chi-Chi then trialed for Western Cape and made the sides at under-16 and under-15, respectively.
“Once we made the WP team, we were called together with girls from Boland and SWD. The selectors chose 21 girls from each age group, who were then divided into three teams that will take part at nationals,” said Chi-Chi, who runs out in the pivotal position of centre for her school but has been selected on wing attack for WC.
“I am looking forward to the competition and getting a chance to meet some of the senior players, who usually come out to support at the nationals. My goal is to one day make one of the top teams in the country and play to the best of my ability,” she said.
For Haigha, this is a chance to show that she has what it takes to play for the SA junior sides. With national sides being selected from under-17 onwards, she has another year to play before she is eligible for those squads and it will be a crucial year of development for the young netballer.
“It takes a lot of commitment to make it onto an SA team. I really enjoy watching the under-18 trials and it’s my dream to make that team one day.
“I think my strength is my shooting ability and being able to draw the defence when I am on wing attack to open the court for our shooters. I think the WC team has a good chance of winning the national tournament or at least making it to the finals,” she said.
As Western Province players, Jaime and Cleopatra also have something to look forward to when they tackle provincial rivals, Boland, in the school holidays, but, as Jaime points out, there are other focuses before those matches kick off.
“I am looking forward to playing against Boland but at the moment we are busy with exams so I am concentrating on my schoolwork first.
“To get onto the WP team we had to go through four rounds of trials playing in mixed teams with girls from other schools so it can get tough the further you go. I made it to the under-14 side and am glad to be on our school’s first team,” she said.