THE STRUCTURE OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE IN NETBALL
By: Puleng Maphisa – 01 September 2023
Vaal University of Technology netball star, Nompumelelo Khumalo is a vibrant force on and off the netball court. Known by her nickname ’Structure’, her journey is an inspiring narrative of determination, passion, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As she navigates the world of netball, Nompumelelo is a living embodiment of the belief that challenges are opportunities for growth.
From the outset, it’s evident that Nompumelelo is not just a sportswoman, but a complex and relatable individual. She introduces herself as “the girl who loves people but also struggles with socializing.” This simple admission immediately draws us into her world, where authenticity is a cornerstone of her character.
Netball, however, is Nompumelelo’s true passion. She thrives on competition, embraces challenges, and has an aversion to failure. Her chant, “I would rather try and fail at something than not try at all,” echoes a philosophy that fuels her every step. For her, the pursuit of greatness is not devoid of setbacks; rather, it’s a testament to her courage to venture into the unknown.
Nompumelelo’s journey is deeply rooted in her upbringing in KZN Esikhawini, nestled in the heart of Empangeni. Here, she embraced her Zulu heritage and her love for netball was ignited during her school years at Skhulangemfundo High School. It was there that she encountered a dedicated coach, Mr Cele, who instilled in her the foundations of the sport. With his guidance, she learned that success is often a product of discipline, hard work, and the willingness to learn from different coaches, a lesson that she carries to this day.
This journey of growth wasn’t without its challenges. Late training sessions, lack of transportation, and even encounters with dangers didn’t deter Nompumelelo and her fellow aspiring athletes. Their unwavering dedication and belief in their abilities were their guiding lights.
Nompumelelo’s unwavering faith in God, reflected through her favorite verse Isaiah 60:22, sustains her in moments of doubt. She firmly believes that God’s timing is always impeccable, and this perspective resonates through her journey. Her faith fuels her resilience, propelling her forward despite the challenges she faces.
Beyond the court, Nompumelelo’s academic pursuits are impressive. While studying Safety Management, she continues to represent the (VUT) Netball at University Sport South Africa (USSA) and various tournaments. Her ability to balance academics and her passion for netball speaks volumes about her discipline and time management skills.
Her journey in netball is marked by notable achievements, including representing her province in the Telkom Netball League (TNL) and being a crucial part of the Umhlathuze Eagles, her local team. The positions she plays, wing attack (WA) and center (C), exemplify her strategic acumen and her vital role in steering her teams toward victory.
Nompumelelo’s journey reminds us that success is often the result of inspiration from loved ones. Her mother’s tales of netball’s allure planted the seeds of her involvement in the sport. Her most cherished memory dates back to 2011 when, at the tender age of 14, she won a silver medal at the SALGA games. This accomplishment, earned in the presence of a large audience, symbolized her potential and set her on a path of self-discovery and growth.
Her journey hasn’t been devoid of trials. Playing on live television for TNL posed unique challenges, subjecting her to the scrutiny of a wide audience. Yet, Nompumelelo persevered, relying on her training, trust in her skills, and the mentorship of her coach to overcome the pressure.
In her leisure hours, Nompumelelo finds solace in family conversations, outings with friends, and hobbies like watching movies and traveling. Her advice to aspiring athletes is rooted in her journey: cultivate discipline, set clear goals, and approach each challenge with unwavering determination.
Her journey speaks to the transformative power of sports, where the court becomes a canvas for personal growth. As she participates in the Telkom Netball League and vies against South Africa’s top players, she exemplifies the principle that with dedication and sacrifice, success becomes attainable.
Beyond personal triumphs, Nompumelelo envisions a legacy that dispels stereotypes and promotes women’s roles in sports. Her hope is for future generations to see the potential in every individual, regardless of their height or gender.