Sunday, July 3, 2022

Can van Dyk sprinkle some gold dust on Botswana’s senior netball team?

Within South Africa’s netball fraternity, Jaguars netball club coach Jenny van Dyk’s lust for gold medals has made her the ‘King Midas’ of the country’s netball coaches.

Not without cause! Her achievements as a coach for Gauteng Jaguars, TUKS netball teams, as well as junior teams can make even the most ardent of Thomas’s believe. Not a year has passed without her winning gold since 2010.

As a glimpse into her capabilities as a coach, she led Gauteng Jaguars to their fifth consecutive Telkom Netball League title in 2021. It was also her fifth consecutive title as a coach. In that same year, her team won gold in four of the five national team titles they competed in.

The other teams she led were TUKS who won the University Sport South Africa (USSA) title and TUKS under 19 team won the Twizza national championships. She also led the Tshwane junior netball team to win the national under-19 tournament title.

Add her impressive educational achievements to boot and it is easy to see why van Dyk is so highly regarded. A Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences holder specializing in Sports Psychology, she has also completed multiple courses related to high performance and athlete management.

Now as she comes into the country in secondment as the senior national netball coach, Botswana netball will be hoping van Dyk’s Midas Touch will turn the country’s potential to gold.

Interestingly, van Dyk, who has been with the team for a short while now is already relishing the challenge. Speaking in an interview, the coach said while she has seen lots of talent, she now has to add some necessary ingredients to make as talent alone is not enough.

“I watched some of their games last year. What I can say is that definitely the talent aspect is there. But talent is never the deciding factor,” the coach observed.

She said if the local girls have to improve, they have to have some attitude and discipline, be willing to put in the hard hours and work as well as have a desire ‘to do it.’

“I can see the hunger in there. I can see that they want to be a part of something special. And that for me is what is exciting me the most,” van Dyk enthused.

The coach said ever since she was seconded to Botswana, she has been interacting with the athletes most and has already put all of them in a training programme. Though still based in South Africa most of the time, she says technology enables her to train the athletes even from home.

While she believes it will be a tall order to get the local lasses to qualify for the World Cup, van Dyk said the challenge drives them and gives them hope and a new energy. 

With training camps already having started to prepare the team for the qualifiers, van Dyk said finances permitting, she wishes for the team to go to camp in Pretoria for proper training.

“We would like to take the girls to South Africa to train at the University of Pretoria. We are really hoping to get the funds allocated to get them there so they can train in the right conditions to prepare them for the matches,” she explained.

As she seeks to get the locals to qualify, van Dyk is also driven by a personal desire to coach and compete at the highest level, being the netball World Cup. She said if she manages to help the local girls qualify, she will be willing to be with them throughout the journey.

She is however well aware that such decisions will be out of her hands and will require for more conversation and negotiation to be held. In the meantime, her main focus is seeing to it that Botswana does well at the Africa qualifiers and make her third appearance in the netball world cup.

Whether such will be possible will however depend on more than van Dyk’s Midas Touch. It will also depend on whether the powers that be in Botswana are willing to fully support the team, more especially with much needed finances.

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