Namibian netball’s great ambassador

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From the very beginning, former Black Africa and national senior netball team pocket-size centre, Annie Mosiane-Kalamoh, was destined for greater things – demonstrating talent and ball handling wizardry way belying her tender age when she entered the fray at a fairly young age while other children would be more comfortable in engaging in the popular hide and seek escapades in the dusty streets of Katutura.

Annie ranks among the most successful athletes in the modern era representing her country on no less than two occasions at the prestigious World Netball Championships in Sidney, New Zealand and Birmingham, England in 1993 and 1995 respectively. She made her senior debut in her maiden season in topflight competition, a remarkable feat indeed.

And a star she certainly was, as can be attested by her remarkable appearance in two separate editions of the quadrennial All Africa Games in Harare, Zimbabwe (1995) and Greater Johannesburg, South Africa (1999). She was deservedly voted ahead of other noted netballers from the African continent as the best netballer of the continental multi-sport games where Namibia finished third behind hosts South Africa and Malawi.

At the peak of her time on the netball courts, the slippery cat-footed Annie used to torment the opposition at will showing quick hands and unbelievable vision as she almost single-handedly steered Black Africa to dozens of triumphs in the competitive Central Netball League and the highly contested national club tournaments across the length and breadth of the country.

Annie Mosiane-Kalamoh
Annie Mosiane-Kalamoh

 

WINDHOEK – The name Annie Mosiane-Kalomoh is held in high esteem in netball circles locally and throughout the Southern African region, where she is not only remembered for her antics on the netball courts but as a great ambassador for Namibian netball.

A product of the notorious Gemengde section in the Katutura Township – this sports crazy lass proved to be a very competitive sprinter during her school days at both Emma Greef Primary School and Ella Du Plessis High School – showing her competitors a clean pair of heels in the 100m and 200m sprints.

Annie’s genes dictated that she would be a netballer of note as her mother Europe  “Suster” Mosiane, was an uncompromising netballer with Black Africa during her heyday.

In addition, her younger sister Helen “Ouvrou” Olifant, cousin Tumi Mosiane and elder daughter Keshia Kalomoh are all credible netballers in their own right and currently ply their trade with the all-conquering Black Africa outfit.

During a successful netball career spanning over a decade, Annie won everything there was to win in the game of domestic netball, a silver medal at the All Africa Games in Harare, Zimbabwe (1995) and a bronze medal at the All Africa Games in Greater Johannesburg, South Africa (1999).

Born in Windhoek in 1971, the stocky athlete defied the odds stacked against her as she easily outsprinted athletes much older and taller than her on the athletics track. “To be quite honest, I must confess I did fairly well on the athletics track, but the most worst scenario is that the times we clocked were unfortunately never recorded in those days, and as a result one is unable to measure your genuine strength against the current athletes,’ recalls Annie with a wry smile on her baby face.

Inspired by her netball playing mother Europe, Annie resolved to concentrate her energy on the game of netball and joined her childhood team Black Africa at an early age where she first started in the team’s second strings.

“The competition for places in the starting line-up was very tough since there were highly talented netballers like Albertina Monde, Ingrid Louw and Marietjie Pieters among others, so it was quite difficult to break into the first team. For us as youngsters we had to wait anxiously and patiently until some of the older generation gradually got touched by age.”

Annie eventually got her big break under the tutelage of departed veteran politician Danny Tjongarero who turned a fairly average Black Africa outfit into a formidable unit.

 

It was not long before she started to enjoy more game time under the guidance of Tjongarero and went on to surpass all expectations when she was called up for the national senior netball team to represent Namibia at the World Netball Championships in Sidney, New Zealand in 1993.

Subsequently, Annie was to enjoy more success when local netball guru Nico Smit took over the coaching reins at the Gemengde-based outfit following the untimely passing of Tjongarero.

“What was most pleasing is the fact that he (Nico) was a very honest and humble mentor and more importantly, consistent with his squad selection. He was not influenced by loyalty and sentiments and would always pick the best team, primarily based on the player’s performance and dedication during training sessions.”

Among her countless accolades in international netball, Annie also represented the Namibian senior netball team during Malawi’s Independence Celebrations.

She was to be joined by her younger sister Helen, better known as “Ouvrou” in netball circles in subsequent internationals. The two Mosiane siblings formed an unbelievable telepathic combination alongside the equally dangerous pair of Hilma Ipinge and Kapena Tjihero.

The two sisters found themselves in the same squad when Namibia featured in historic two test encounters against the visiting Malaysian squad and the Tracy Neville-led England senior netball team at the Unam netball courts. (Tracy is the twin sister of former Manchester United/Everton FC and England international Phil Neville).

“I really enjoyed my netball under the mentorship of Smit because he was absolutely phenomenal. He brought a new dimension to the local game and for some unexplained reason always managed to get the best out of his protégés, including me.”

Annie went on to represent Namibia on various occasions in the highly competitive Zone Six regional competitions where she always came out with flying colours – propelling her country to regularly finish among the top two netball playing nations adrift of continental powerhouse South Africa in many of their duels.

 

Her virtuosity on the netball courts did not go unnoticed as she was deservedly voted Black Africa’s most valuable netballer in three successive seasons during her flourishing playing career with Aunt Ricky’s untouchable Babes.

“Truth be told, the competition was extremely tough in those days as both Wanderers and United proved to be tricky customers to deal with, notably the latter since they were doubtlessly our biggest enemy but we somehow managed to bring their dominance in domestic netball to a premature halt. There were also very good teams around with Tigers and Orlando Pirates also boasting great players in their armoury.”

Annie minced no words when quizzed to describe the current state of Namibian netball and put the blame on the declining standards squarely on the shoulders of the seemingly endless squabbling in the All Namibia Netball Associations (ANNA).

“There seems to be disharmony among the powers that be in Namibian netball, which I’m inclined to attribute to pure arrogance and far-fetched egos. I still believe we have the required talent to reclaim our rightful place among the best netball playing nations not only on the African continent but internationally as well.”

She pulls no punches and blames Namibia’s lukewarm showing in international competitions of late on what she cites as habitual inadequate preparation and poor planning ahead of major international competitions.

“Our progress is constantly and massively hampered by unnecessary infightings among officials and unless this problem is arrested without further delay – I’m afraid the game of netball will remain a much sought-after delicacy for stray dogs.”

Annie is the incumbent head coach of Black Africa netball club and is excited about the available talent on display. “As it stands, our netball is on the right track considering the vast interest and talent displayed by a significant number of Otjiherero-speaking girls, but they need to dramatically change their attitude and approach while the need exists for them to demonstrate serious commitment towards the cause because they certainly possesses the required talent to compete at the highest level.”

By Carlos Kambaekwa

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