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.”