An ACL is one of the leading injuries that can end an athlete’s career. It can also sidline a player from their favourite sport for a long, long time, and at times, players never return the player they were before the injury. They tend to shy away from hard tackles or one-on-one encounters which may lead to an aggravation of the injury.
However, UP-Tuks’ Shadine van der Merwe is an exception. She didn’t let her injury get her down. She was determined to come back stronger. The Tuks skipper even got a national call up with the Spar Proteas to represent her country in several competitions this year, as well as playing in the World University Netball Championship. Although she would have been happier being the Varsity Netball champion, winning the Varsity Netball Player of the Tournament is evidence that one can make a comeback after experiencing such an injury.
“I’m truly blessed to be back on court,” she said. “It was a big setback for me to hurt my knee at last year’s Varsity Cup. It’s a privilege to be back on the court again. The year has been filled with a lot of ups and downs, it hasn’t been one of my best years. I had to endure the students World Cup and seniors. I did it in an emotional way,” she said.
Van der Merwe said that playing for the University of Pretoria is a privilege and naturally she was devastated about their loss in the final against NWU-Pukke, especially after having a 100% win rate in this year’s Varsity Netball leading up to the final.
“We need to maintain our focus to the end. Our time will come. The Player of the Tournament is a bonus for me. On the one hand playing for my university is enough. If it wasn’t for my team mates, I wouldn’t have been nominated for player of the season,” she said.
By Busisiwe Mokwena, Daily Sun/ Sunday Sun Sports Reporter