PRINCESS Jo Prins at Maties Sport’s glamour event where she won the Sportswoman of the Year award. Photo: Francois Lombard

Prins crowned Sportswoman of the Year

BY KESIA ABRAHAMS & HELÉNE LEONARD

Jo Prins has made 2019 her year. The Stellenbosch stu­dent qualified for the un­der-21 South African Netball team, joined the Protea squad and she was recently awarded the Cape Winelands Netball Player of the Year. According to Prins, however, the Maties Sport’s Sportswoman of the Year nomination came as a surprise.

“I rocked up at Maties Sports Awards and I looked at the sports pamphlet and on the last page I saw a picture of myself, by Sports­woman of the Year and then I was like, ‘I am so honoured. It is so cool to be nominated’, and by the end of the evening they called my name, announcing the Sportswoman of the year, and I was so shook.”

However, a win is a win. Prins’ netball journey has been a long one. She was just five years old when she first picked up the ball, but she sealed the deal in grade four when she decided that she wanted to be a Protea netball play­er.

“I kind of always knew that this was something I was passionate about and that it was something I wanted to do,” Prins said.

Due to her exceptional sports­manship, Prins received ample bursary offers from universities all over South Africa, but she decided on Stellenbosch University (SU) because she felt it would strength­en her netball career. SU also of­fered her the best bursary out of all the institutions. On top of that, she just likes the town and its people.

“I love Stellenbosch, it’s a great town. My friends are here and it’s pretty.”

Prins is currently decompress­ing after a tiring, yet a phenome­nally successful season.

She joked about using her Mat­ies Sports Awards winnings, a whopping R 10 000, to register for Maties Netball next year, but after being a member for six years, she is unsure of her future with the club.

“I love this club, the club has been good to me, but what does the future hold?” Prins said.

The development of Maties Sports was a big talking point at this year’s Maties Sports Awards, which took place on 16 October, and according to Prins, many dis­cussions were about how much the club has grown, especially with regards to the increasing involve­ment of women at the club.

She, however, says that she would like to see the club improve even further, especially where bur­sary equality between the sports­men and sportswomen is con­cerned.

“Equality and bridging the gap of getting the same amount would be great. Just a little bit more mon­ey into women’s sports would be great,” Prins said.

Although Prins has been a big feature at Maties Sport for a long time, that is not where she spends all her time. She is a final year ed­ucation student who has a love for children and would ideally like to teach grade five.

But teaching is apparently not her first choice. Prins aims to use her platform to pursue a career in the fashion industry and she signed with a modelling agency called The Management on 11 Oc­tober.

This, however, doesn’t seem to be the end of her netball journey. “I am finishing my studies this year, so I am branching out. But I will definitely still play netball. The goal is to try and make the World Cup 2023 team.”

This year’s World Cup team in­spired Prins and she feels that net­ball has come a long way in South Africa. In the previous World Cups, according to Prins, the Pro­teas would end up in fifth place, but this year’s semi-final playoffs against Australia was a big step for the team and South African netball in general. She says that the inter­est in netball has grown tremen­dously since the Proteas’ stellar efforts in Liverpool.

“People would come to me and say like, ‘oh my word netball is so cool’, and then I would say, yeah, that’s why I do it. Sponsors are ac­tually waking up and seeing that it is a sport to get involved with.”

Prins seems excited about this shift in netball’s fortunes and sees herself playing a part in it. For her, every person’s journey is different, and she strives to inspire young girls to always try to be the best version of themselves.

“Never compete with the per­son next to you but rather with the person you were yesterday.”

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