Netball Proteas skipper Bongi Msomi calls time on illustrious career

Sithembiso Dindi Sports Reporter
Spar Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi during the Vitality Netball International Series match against England at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on December 9 2023 in Nottingham, England.
Spar Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi during the Vitality Netball International Series match against England at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on December 9 2023 in Nottingham, England.
Image: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for England Netball

South African netball stalwart and Spar Proteas skipper Bongi Msomi says the conversation around her retirement was an awkward one and she is glad she was not forced into making the decision.

This after Msomi, who turns 36 in January, called time in her illustrious career that has spanned more than a decade at the top.

Born in Hammarsdale, just outside Durban, Msomi started playing netball at the age of 16 and made it to the national team set-up in 2008 when she received a call-up for the Junior Proteas (SA U21 national team), which she captained in 2009.

She graduated to the senior national team in 2011 and went on to take part in four World Cups including the 2023 edition at home.

As she has shown no signs of slowing down and has been fortunate to avoid serious injuries in her career, some would have expected her to continue playing for the national team at least for another year.

In the world of sports where sometimes athletes are forced to retire, Msomi said this was purely her call and revealed she was still in demand and recently declined an offer to play abroad again.

“I honestly wouldn’t wait for anyone to tell me that, and even if it were to happen, I would say it’s probably in a better time,” Msomi said.

“I’ve played netball locally and internationally and even this year, I had an offer or a pre-offer to go and play which I declined because obviously I have a full-time job.

“I’m not in a position to go overseas and play netball.

“Like I said, I have achieved as much as I could and just wanted my time,” she said.

“I want my time to look after myself, to enjoy who Bongi is outside being a netball player and I have to appreciate Netball South Africa for the love and support throughout the journey.

“And to date, even when I had to mention that this will be happening, the conversation was actually a bit of an awkward one because I don’t think anyone probably anticipated it.

“If they did, it would be a different story when you anticipate than when it’s happening. It’s really my call and I’m glad I have the chance to call it myself because some players don’t even get that chance and I actually did.”

Msomi will not be completely lost from the sport as she has already ventured into the coaching space, currently working for University of Johannesburg (UJ) as a manager and coach.

During her career, Msomi had stints abroad, playing for Wasps and Surrey Storm in England and Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia.

She represented her country at the Commonwealth Games three times and finishing the 2019 World Cup in fourth place remains one of her proudest moments.

“I am so grateful that I can make this announcement with a full heart, knowing I leave the Proteas and South African netball in a very healthy space. I am eternally grateful to all the coaches, colleagues and teammates who have played instrumental roles during my career — there are too many to mention, but you know who you are,” she said.

“I would like to make a special mention of coach Norma Plummer, who took lots of time away from home (at her age) to be such a great influence in our country. You are such an inspiration to me, and you definitely kept me going on the court much longer than I thought I might have.

“From you, I learnt how to lead selflessly, as well as to see, love and understand the in-depth part of coaching, and to appreciate the sport even more. Thank you for everything you've done for netball in our country. You and your team have been awesome.

“A massive thank you must go to Netball SA for backing me and for respecting me as the Proteas captain over the past years,” Msomi said. 

“To this end, I look forward to being able to give more of my time and attention to the Bongi Msomi Legacy Project and various community outreach projects and grassroots development, particularly in places such as my hometown of Hammarsdale.”

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