Sanmarie Visser persists with her netball dream

On the corner of Ds Abrey Beukes Drive and Jan de Klerk Way in the suburb of Oosterville you find the words: “Persevere and Conquer”. This is the motto that learners of the Duineveld High School in the sizzling Upington see every day. This is what Sanmarie Visser of the North-West University (NWU) does on the netball court every day.

From Keimoes to Upington, where she matriculated in 2021, from the Northern Cape to Potchefstroom in North West, where she is a third-year student in BCom Marketing at the NWU. From a discus athlete to the 2023 Varsity Netball Player of the Tournament. And now she has been named the best defender during the Africa Qualifying Rounds for the 2025 Netball World Youth Cup. Persevere and conquer.

“Very few people know this about me,” she says about her discus roots. This was the sport for which she received a bursary from the NWU, but at the last minute she decided to pursue her netball dream. “My heart was given to netball.”

The university was prepared to accommodate her, and now they and Sanmarie are enjoying the fruits of this decision: “I cannot be more grateful towards the university. If it had not been for them, my path would have been completely different.”

She grew up in a very sport-loving family, she explains. Mom and Dad always loved rugby. “In Grade 1 I played netball for the school’s E team. Then it improved somewhat,” she jokes. She worked hard, and loved playing with her friends.

“Playing for each other. Getting together at tournaments. You build a family on the netball court and those people always remain your friends.”

E team? And who would have thought that she only started playing in the unfamiliar position of goal defence in 2022? Because last year her phone beeped …

“Varsity Netball sent a message to say which three players had been nominated as Player of the Tournament. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be me – it was a great privilege just to have been nominated.”

Later her phone beeped again. Great news to be shared: “The day I got the call to hear I had been named the Player of the Tournament – wow, it was a dream come true. You work so hard, and then to get that recognition … I can just say thank you to everyone, like my friends, family, coaches and supporters who were all behind me, because I definitely did not do it on my own. It was for everyone who had stood by me through difficult times.”

To her it is netball, the whole day, every day, 24/7.

“Netball is about the team in which you are playing, the experience you get, the person you become. You learn to handle pressure, process it and perform under pressure. That makes you who you are,” she says.

She has already shown her steel for the Junior Proteas this year. There is also a Varsity Netball series beckoning. This year she is helping to coach the netball team for the women’s residence, Wanda, and do not forget the studies!

It is a lot irons in the fire for this girl from the north. She laughs when you refer to her origins: “That world is extremely harsh. Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas. It is incredibly hot. People do not want to visit those places a second time. That was to my advantage. I do not think I can describe to anyone what it feels like to run 10 km in the heat of Upington. But it makes you strong. It teaches you character. It gives you character. This contributed to my success.”

It taught her to persevere. And to conquer.


Sanmarie Visser

Submitted on Tue, 04/02/2024 - 08:43