5 South African Athletes On What Pushes Them Forward

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Profile

Being a strong woman in sport requires more than just skill or luck. It requires resilience, determination and that willpower to break barriers. It means defying societal norms and shattering stereotypes that limit women’s potential. These five South African athletes (and proud Under Armour ambassadors) display courage, grit and confidence at every step of their competitive journey. Here’s what fuels them.

Tatjana Schoenmaker – Professional Swimmer

“Becoming a professional swimmer wasn’t some overnight success story or immediate achievement. To this day, it continues to be a daily effort shaped by sacrifice, passion and unwavering commitment. Looking back – you truly start to realise that your success story is shaped by so many things. It came with missing important events, birthdays and family gatherings. It came with a sense of knowing that every stroke in the pool would bring you closer to your dreams. It’s the countless hours spent travelling far and wide to attend training camps, pushing through exhaustion and fatigue. All for the chance to improve and excel and reach the level of success that you set for yourself.

“The path to greatness is not just about the end goal of celebrating your achievements, it’s also about celebrating all the small moments along the way, too. Those fun team training sessions, those late-night family catch-ups, those memorable moments when you get to represent your country. And let’s not forget that ultimate honour of being able to sing the national anthem at the Olympic games. It’s about immersing yourself in the pool, day after day and finding solace in the water’s embrace. Being the best requires sacrificing the ordinary for the extraordinary. And in the end, it’s those sacrifices that make the victories all the more meaningful.”

Nthabiseng Mothusi – Professional Netball Player

“Netball is the kind of sport that teaches you how to be patient, communicate effectively, as well as thinking fast on your feet. However, it’s also the type of sport that teaches you to go after what you want. To fight for possession, to dominate your space and stand firm in your position. My career as a netball player has been filled with many highs and lows, including some challenges. But I’ve embraced them with unwavering determination and mental toughness. As an Under Armour athlete, we have this mantra, “Protect This House”, which is something I so passionately feel applies to my career in terms of my sport, but also my personal life. After battling through two major knee injuries, the words ‘defeat’ and ‘giving up’ were never part of my vocabulary.

“Instead, I became a living example of what true perseverance looks like. As I took on the role of captain, I quickly realised that it goes beyond the skills and tactics on the court – I needed to protect my team, protect my health, protect my skills and also protect my role as a leader. It demanded something deeper – a true test of my character. In the face of adversity as well as the character I’ve built and the example I’ve set for those around me, I’ve risen above any challenge that comes my way. My career has taught me that true greatness lies in the ability to overcome obstacles and uplift others.”

Robyn Moodaly – Professional Football Player

“My journey as a woman in sports and as a football player was shaped by a deep-rooted love and passion for the game itself, knowing that no obstacle would deter me from following my dreams of one day perusing a career in football. I discovered my love of football and began playing at the age of 7 alongside my cousins. In a time when there were no girls’ teams available, I fearlessly joined a boy’s football team, breaking barriers and defying expectations. For me, even at such a young age, this was the pinnacle of my future and set the tone for what lay ahead. I believe that success is a result of what you put into the task at hand which is why I believe my journey has been shaped by my passion and unwavering work ethic.

“As a footballer, I have honed my skills and developed a deep understanding of the game which has fuelled my love of the sport to new heights and allowed me to embrace my journey as a female footballer in a male-dominated sport. My journey is not over and my story is yet to be told and with the backing of an incredible family, the Banyana Banyana team, my Under Armour family, as well as all the coaching and training staff, I hope to rise even further than ever before.”

Sasha-Lee Petersen – Professional Netball Player

“My career has taken me to many new and interesting destinations, each of which have taught me valuable life lessons. As a professional netball player, my passion for the sport has not only introduced me to a world of endless possibilities. It also transformed me from that once shy schoolgirl to a confident netball star. My journey has been all about connections – from the girls I have been fortunate enough to coach, to the teachers that have coached me. They all have played a significant role in my life and still do today. My role in sports and as a sportswoman, is to continue my journey by helping those less fortunate to be able to experience and have access to what I did as a scholar and experience a sport that so positively changed my life.

“Since playing professionally, I have been fortunate enough to journey into commentary and coaching. This has shone a light on a new aspect of the sport. Netball, beyond being a sport, has been a profound teacher in my life, imparting valuable life lessons that extend far beyond the court. Through every pass, every shot and every move, netball has ingrained in me essential qualities and values that have shaped my character. The game has taught me the value of teamwork and collaboration, trust, communication and support. It taught me that success is not achieved through individual brilliance alone but through the collective efforts of a united team. Netball has given me more than just a game. It has equipped me with the tools to navigate life’s complexities with grace, resilience and a deep understanding of the power of teamwork. But more than that, it gave me friends, family and people who will remain in my life forever.”

Nomvula Khuzwayo – Fitness Guru

“As an empowering figure in the world of fitness, I am deeply passionate about uplifting and celebrating strong, powerful women in sport. For me, it is not just about what happens within the confines of a gym or workout studio. I believe in nurturing the mind, body and soul of every individual, including my own, to foster true transformation. As an advocate for women in sport and fitness, I believe that true transformation is a holistic experience, where every aspect of our being is uplifted and strengthened. I am immensely grateful to be able to support and guide others along this transformative path. It is not just about me imparting knowledge and expertise; it is a mutual exchange of growth and inspiration.

“To me, physicality encompasses much more than mere exercise or running. It is about discovering a profound connection within oneself that may have been hidden or overlooked. Unleashing one’s potential during the journey of transformation can be a truly beautiful and rewarding experience. It is a path that I have personally walked and continue to traverse today. In my role as an empowering strong figure in fitness, I am not just a trainer; I am a mentor, a motivator and a steadfast source of support. I believe in celebrating the achievements and resilience of strong women in all avenues of sports and fitness, helping them recognise their own power and encouraging them to shatter barriers and exceed their own expectations.”

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