At the age of 22, Nicholé Taljaard (BSc Sport Science) has a netball career packed with remarkable achievements. After joining Maties Netball in 2016, she made the Western Cape Southern Stings squad, as well as the South African u/21 Baby Proteas squad for the first time.
Taljaard was also invited to train with the Protea netball squad earlier this year. For this year’s Varsity Netball competition, the talented player is enthusiastically embracing the role of Maties netball team captain for the first time. Preparation for the fast approaching competition has been well underway, and Taljaard expresses the confidence she has in her team and their performance.
“My personal goal, as captain, is to try and bring out the individual strengths of each player in the team. If [this] could take place, I feel like the team should be able to win by a large margin. We are such strong individual together, [especially when we] elevate each other and each other’s strengths.”
Even in her confidence, Taljaard anticipates a few challenges for the upcoming season. “Our attacking side is very young, where our defence is the more experienced side. [As] we are a younger side, [we] need to keep up the tempo and carry over strengths [of the defence] to
Taljaard emphasises her role in helping her team overcome these challenges by motivating them and regulating their head spaces before and during a game. “I try to get positive quotes in and positive personal experiences so that the team can feed off of positive outcomes and build off of that.”
The netballer’s initial reservations about being team captain quickly dissipated as her term started. “It means a lot to me knowing that I need to play an important role in the team now, not only on the court but off the court as well. I enjoy the challenge.” The team will be demonstrating their skill and preparation in their first match of the season against NWU on 26 August at Coetzenburg.
Taljaard, Stephanie Brandt, Jo Prins, Kgomotso Ithlabanyeng and Sasha-Lee Petersen (all from Maties) made the cut and have bee drafted into the national squad. The selection took place at the National Championships in August.