AS Netball Namibia’s secretary general, Imelda Nerongo is playing a pivotal role in steering the sport code to greater heights, sourcing funds and equipping players, coaches and umpires with relevant skills. Nerongo, who started playing netball at the age of seven, says that lack of finances prevents her team from rolling out projects that could make netball the sport of choice countrywide and place the country in top rankings regionally and internationally. Apart from being a fun sport, Nerongo says that netball disciplines children and has proven to be an effective tool to prevent teenage pregnancies as young girls take pride in the sport. Nerongo says that netball also contributes to a learner’s academic performance.
In an interview with Confidente recently, Nerongo talks about her plans; challenges and advantages of netball.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I am an energetic young lady who is very ambitious and a workaholic living the peak of a multi-dimensional life. I am very positive about every aspect of my life and thrive on taking up challenges, and believe I am winner in any instance. I like to balance my professional, family and sport life. Sport life gives me exposure, fun and de-stresses me while the fulfillment I get from sport is a total contributor to my wellbeing. My favourite past-time is with netball friends and family. I also like to travel and to watch TV series.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
My father is my biggest role model; he taught me discipline, to follow-through on projects, loyalty and to be honest. These qualities are a true reflection of how I was brought up. In projects, work and teams and general roles I have played in life whilst growing-up; I have always been known as a team player or team leader who can be entrusted.
What triggered your interest in netball?
My interest in netball started at the age of seven. I had no choice as it was the only girl sport at our school at the time and it was compulsory to part-take in sport. Then I realised the potential I had, being a tall goal shooter of the team, meant I controlled our winnings with the contribution of the entire team, these were ecstatic moments especially when we won. I soon became captain of the teams I played in from primary to high school level. At university I was the chairperson of netball, and this sparked my interest in management of the game and activities.
How did your post as Namibia Netball SG come about?
The board of Netball Namibia is appointed through elections, at the time I was serving as the Secretary General of the Khomas netball region and received nominations from regions to serve as the SG, after elections during the National AGM, I was endorsed as the successful candidate. It came as no surprise as I believe my contributions in Khomas region`s administration did not go unnoticed.
What are challenges facing the sport code?
Many sport codes are financially stripped, we are not financially stripped, we operate from a negative balance, and with this balance it is very difficult to successfully implement development projects in the regions, nationally and or within constituencies. We have plans in place but need money to execute these plans and to bring netball to all.
What are you currently concentrating on to improve the sport of netball?
In the past there was administrative infighting that led to the withdrawal of many sponsors that were on board then. The objective of the board is to establish effective governing structures throughout the regions and within our board, in order to entice companies to come back on board. Once we have managed that and with a little funding we can enable regions to run full throttle leagues, to run different competitions and to develop grassroots level netball within the region. Our national team has fallen on the ranking table, therefore we are trying to strategise on how best we can pull-off maintaining a good ranking, and our vision is to be 20th best in the world and 3rd best in Africa. One of our methodologies in place now is to follow a similar route like South Africa, hosting local international ranking matches, inviting power houses like Uganda and Malawi and Zambia and to play them on Namibian soil. The more matches we play the better our ranking. We also want to be the sport code of choice, therefore we are working on projects that will include males in the game, the girl-child as well as netball for all-where we will concentrate on enticing the middle-aged to over 40s to continue playing netball as role models for the younger generations. Our biggest programme now is the coaches and umpires’ framework project which is aimed at enhancing the game of netball through ensuring that our coaches and umpires are nationally certified to handle the game of netball and to train our players. Finally the promotion of the sport remains our biggest goal, netball is a sport of discipline, by playing netball from a very young age could be an effective tool to prevent teenage pregnancies. Young girls that take pride in their sport, will take care in not getting pregnant whilst they are actively playing. Additionally it has so many advantages in contributing to a learner’s academic performance as well as overall discipline towards his or her studies.
As SG, what is a typical day like for you?
Being SG is a voluntary job, which I need to prioritise amongst my fulltime job, studies and family role, how I manage only God knows. But I do. On a daily or weekly basis I respond to emails, enquiries, submit reports, submit information requested by the Sports Commission and attend meetings. It is a merry-go round, and a full-time job on its own.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to take up the sport?
I encourage any young girl out there to find meaning in life through netball. It means the world to me, and I can attribute so much of my milestones as a result of being involved in this sport. It’s fun, enjoyable and a sport you will fall in love with.
What don’t people know about you?
I am a wife and a mummy of a 10-year-old boy. Netball also takes priority in my life, I started my own club, Vixens Netball Club as an opportunity to allow other players to be inspired by the group of players that are in the team who like me manage homes, studies and play for fun. We additionally also mentor girls in the team to take-up further studies, as we found that there are many talented players, who because of circumstances cannot advance in their game. There are so many opportunities for girls to play international but these can mainly be gained through study scholarships-which means you need at least grade 12 and entry points.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
My fun is on the court, nothing beats netball. Otherwise I travel with family.
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