#TuksNetball: Lenize Potgieter on balancing academics and netball

Posted on June 17, 2016

Known to her friends and family as Linny, Lenize Potgieter is not only a student at the University of Pretoria, she is also a professional netball player. Potgieter was born in Pretoria but grew up in Pietersburg, Limpopo, with her family. She started playing mini-netball at Laerskool Pietersburg when she was eight years old and was immediately put into the goal shooter position because she was taller than her teammates. At that time, Potgieter could scarcely imagine that she would one day have a career in netball.

Last year, Laerskool Pietersburg honoured the Spar Protea goal-shooter by naming their netball courts after her.

The first time Potgieter actually considered netball as a potential career was when she joined the TuksNetball team in 2014. That same year, she received her call-up to play for the Spar Proteas. 'At first, I couldn't believe it. It was a huge achievement for me. I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to play for a national team, but I suppose the coach saw potential in me,' she said.

Potgieter shared the news with her family first as they are her greatest supporters. 'My dad is my biggest fan. Sometimes he comes to at my matches unannounced to surprise me,' she said. Her mother does the same for her younger brother, who is an aspiring rugby player, and provides Potgieter with emotional support.

She spent a couple of months in the United Kingdom playing for Team Bath in the Superleague, but This TuksNetball player did not allow this to affect her studies. She and Karla Mostert, goal defender and wing defender for the Free State Crinums, were spotted at the Euro Netball Championships, whereupon she was approached to play for Team Bath. Potgieter ended off the Superleague with an 87% shooting average for Team Bath, who placed third in the Vitality Superleague. Potgieter also plays for the Gauteng Jaguars as goal shooter in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League.

Once she agreed to play for Team Bath Potgieter immediately informed her TuksNetball Team Manager and Coach. 'Last year I spoke to Professor Human and told him that I want to continue my studies while I play netball in the UK.'  The lecturers sent the Sports Science student all her assignments by email and she had the option of attending her lectures via Skype. She communicated frequently with her lecturers, who were very supportive and sent her study guides. When Potgieter returned to South Africa she was not behind in her work and she was able to write supplementary tests.    

Her advice to aspiring female athletes is that they should never underestimate themselves. 'It doesn't matter where you come from. If a girl from Pietersburg can be a Spar Protea and even play in the Superleague, the same is possible for anyone.' Potgieter adds that it is the responsibility of an athlete to train harder than their competition and always have the discipline to do the extra work.

Potgieter can be seen in the early mornings and mid-afternoons on the TuksNetball courts with her ball in hand and wearing a headset. That is because she believes that it is her duty to work hard to get those shots for her respective teams.


- Author Mmane Boikanyo

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