Kagisano Mawela: A long serving champion

Gazette Sport reporter GOSEGO MOTSUMI finds out that there is more to netballer Kagisano Mawela that meets the eye.

Just like most athletes Mawela started playing netball at primary school in 1991 when she was doing standard 3.  “Back then netball was the only sport that was more suitable for ladies besides volleyball. I was mainly into athletics and I saw netball as more interesting in terms of skills, rules and the fitness level that one gains,” she said.

Some of her achievements include a gold medal in the Under 19 Skies tournament in Australia, silver medals for all the BISA games she has played, bronze medals with the Under 21 and Senior National teams. Locally she has received gold medals with BDF CATS (Debswana cup, Spar league, Choppies tournament and many more) and silver medals with Notwane club.

Mawela is a gifted athlete, a highly effective defender with a fine record at international level and major competitions. Commenting on her proud moments, Mawela said, “Every game is important to me and they all give me a very special memory but if I were to choose one, it would be the match between Botswana and Singapore in the World Championships hosted in Singapore, 2012. Even though it was not the final match, it was a very important opening group game. I was awarded the player of match by the president of Singapore, Tony Tan Keng Yam. We won and were placed 3rd in the group.”

She brings a great sense of timing, ability to read play and pinpoint accuracy to the team, which all adds to her repertoire in the shooting circle. “As a defender I make decisions of my move, my opponent’s move and the pass that is coming. Therefore, my aim of defending off the player is to gain possession of the ball from the attacking team through an interception. While defending off a player, I am aware of my opponent’s movements, but the ball is the focus of my attention. I position myself so I can drive hard to cut off an incoming pass. The element of surprise that defence brings is strength, the attacker becomes uncertain, which can increase their error rate,” she said.

Giving tips on what interested individuals can do to prosper in the sport, the BDF Cats player said, “Your level of fitness and ability is an important factor when looking to start playing netball. What makes a good netball player includes qualities such as the knowledge of the rules of netball, 100% concentration for the full game, strength and stamina to keep on going and to never give up. Good reflexes, quick decision making skills, good judgement, anticipation and ability to read the play, agility, ball control and  good vision all make a balanced player and so are  safe hands, strong accurate passes, a risk taker determined to succeed and a team player  (there is no ‘I’ in netball).”
She also highlighted that she believes in learning from others and that every athlete who does something good motivates her. Players like Kgololesego ‘Freedom’ Diraditsile who played netball until she passed the age of 40 years is Mawela’s role model because of her dedication.

Commenting on Botswana netball’s growth she said, “Netball has grown and continues growing looking at the performance of the national team at world championships. For a country to qualify is through hard work and improved structures by the Association and the commitment they have towards the sport to bring along sponsors too. Even though we are still behind in terms of development, I do believe in some few years to come netball will be one of the sport codes that will raise the Botswana flag high in terms of bringing medals, more so that we will be hosting the world youth games in 2-3 years to come.”

However, Mawela currently has a knee injury that has sidelined her for four months of which the league would have finished by then but is looking forward to playing next year.