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Sammy Ngubane

Image: Morgan Harlow

There are not many 21-year-olds who would leave home in South Africa to follow their dreams in Scotland, but Sammy Ngubane knows why she has done exactly that.

“I think I have guts,” she said. “I thought let me just move and see how it goes. I am 21, I just want to do everything I can as a netball player.”

When Strathclyde Sirens came calling last year, Ngubane’s dream of playing in the Netball Super League suddenly seemed possible, but that did not make the decision to leave her family in Durban behind any easier.

It was some sage words from her mother that proved decisive.

“It has been difficult for me, moving from South Africa and leaving family but it has been good, even though it’s cold!” she added. “I have been enjoying myself but missing home.

“This city is so cold! I barely go outside but I go out and see Scotland as it’s very beautiful and I am trying to learn the place and know where everything is.

“It was a big decision to make, there was a big choice to stay at home or play netball overseas. I spoke to my mum and she was like ‘Just go! Do whatever you want.’

“I thought she was trying to drive me away but she just said ‘Enjoy yourself because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’

“Everyone is supporting me to come here and play netball, so I made the decision to come here.

“It is a big change as a 21-year-old to leave home like that but at the same time, I am thinking of my career as a netball player. I am not going to stay in South Africa forever.”

Sammy Ngubane

Image: Ben Lumley

Her mum has not been the only one to offer words of encouragement, however, with Ngubane able to rely on some wise words from a South African legend and fellow Durbanite.“Back home, Bongiwe Msomi used to play Super League [for Surrey Storm and Wasps] and she advised me to just go play my netball and that I’m ready for this. She gave me advice to just enjoy it.”

Her move to Sirens is just the latest landmark in a rollercoaster few years for Ngubane, who has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks of South Africa’s national team after only first tasting league netball in high school.

But the 21-year-old is simply embracing the latest challenge after making her international debut in 2023.

“I got invited to South Africa trials and I just tried my luck,” she said. “Just being picked, just being seen has got me where I am right now. It has been a big jump at times.

“In my area, we didn’t have many opportunities for netball and I had to go outside to see how netball works, so when I got the opportunity to be scouted and people asked me to come in, I was so excited.

“I was so happy because it was an opportunity to play netball and then when I got invited to South Africa camps, it was big for me as I knew I was moving in the right direction.

“It is difficult being just 21 years old and you have to train at a certain level. It has been a big jump but I have taken the responsibility, been a big girl and filled those shoes.”

 

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Performances for the Proteas is partly behind Ngubane’s move to Sirens, with the goal attack keen to seize her chance to impress on a bigger stage week in, week out.

It is exactly what she has done in the opening weeks of the season despite a difficult start to the campaign for the Scottish side, with Ngubane posting a shooting percentage of 92% from her opening four games.

And the South African is confident the best is yet to come from both her and Sirens.

“For us as a team, we are just working on things,” she added. “We are a young group and we are just trying to find those combinations as a team.

“It has been going well in training even though we haven’t seen the results on the court that we wanted. Everyone keeps pushing every week, keeps on grinding and fixing things that weren’t working the previous week.

“For me it is just showing how good I can be. For Sirens it is just being part of that team and playing my good netball.”

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