Netball jewels unearthed from down under

• By Michael Uugwanga 

LOIDE Kanyolo, who plays goal shooter and goal attack for Afrocat Lions, is no stranger to netball fans, having been a part of the country’s junior setup and currently is one of the best shooters in the league after breaking into the first team at a young age in 2021.

The 18-year-old joined Afrocat in 2016 after moving to Windhoek with her parents, Selma Bittler (mother), who also plays for Afrocat Lions and the women’s senior squad, and her father, Dimitri Bittler, who founded and coaches the club.

At 18, she is already seen as a long-term predecessor to current sharp shooters in the country, Anna Kasper who happens to be captain of the women’s senior national team nicknamed the Desert Jewels and plays club netball for Navy. “I joined the club in 2016 because it is a family team and they (parents) taught me how to play netball. It has been an experience. I think we can finish in the top five if not third place this season.  I am part of the under-19 team. I believe that I am one of the best upcoming shooters in the country. I humbly believe I still have a lot to learn. Yes, there are other best shooters in the league like Anna Kasper whom I look up to,” said Kanyolo.

Not only has the country unearthed another desert jewel in Kanyolo but also in Sunshine Murangi (Otjozondjupa NamPol), Louise van der Westhuizen (Eleven Arrows), Johanna Hashipala (Rebels), and Mapevanguaije Tjipombo (Fatou, who are among those making a name for themselves in netball circles).

Murangi, who plays goalkeeper for NamPol, who are also vying for honours in this season’s competition, has established herself as one of the division’s finest goalkeepers.

She is already a member of the Desert Jewels team at the age of 22 after being recruited by national team mentor Julene Meyer. She previously played for the relegated side Grootfontein, whom her mother also featured for. “I joined NamPol last year when my coach (mum) was transferred to Otjiwarongo. Playing for NamPol has been a rewarding experience. Our toughest matchups thus far have been against Afrocat Lions and Navy, both of whom we defeated. Due to her expertise, Anna Kasper is my most difficult opponent. We all play comparable netball. Our main competitors are Navy, Mighty Gunners, and Namibia Correctional Services (NCS),” Murangi explained.

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