Nicholé Taljaard says she didn’t expect to receive the 2021 Varsity Netball Player of the Tournament award.
It was Taljaard’s fourth Varsity Netball tournament and the second time she had been nominated for the award, having been one of the best players in 2018.
This year, the Maties goal attack was nominated alongside teammate Syntiche Kabuya and UJ’s Monica Gomases, who are both defenders.
‘Getting the award means so much to me, but in all honesty, I did not expect it,’ says Taljaard. ‘When the three nominees were announced I was sure Syntiche would get it.
‘I had some good moments during the tournament where I felt really good, but it was more a feeling that the team was gelling so great and not me as an individual performing well.
‘I have been gifted with the most amazing team who trust me,’ she adds. ‘I would not have been able to play the way I did if my teammates did not trust me with the ball.
‘I can also not thank our management enough for the love and support they invested in me, and for how they believed in me, especially when I did not believe in myself.
‘I’m thankful for having all these people around me willing to support and help me be the best player I can possibly be.’
While there were no crowds to play in front of this year because of Covid-19 regulations, players on the bench were vocal during games.
‘I was part of such an amazing team,’ says Taljaard. ‘The way we supported each other during matches felt like we were indeed playing with a crowd of fans!’
Taljaard is currently playing for the Southern Stings in the Telkom Netball League. She plans to study Medical Prosthetics at TUT next year and will therefore continue her netball career in Pretoria.
‘I also hope to play for the Proteas one day if the opportunity arises,’ she adds.
By Eunice Visagie
Photos: Kevin Sawyer/Varsity Sports