On a warm evening at a high school in Kuruman, a group of determined women are running the track across the grounds. They are part of the Kuruman Netball Club, and started running as a replacement for netball.
When Covid-19 and the lockdown hit, sport came to a grinding halt and many athletes, used to a routine of fitness and camaraderie with teammates, found themselves without both.
“My saving grace was the sport,” Jo-Mari Jacobs, the wing defence of the team points out.
Jacobs, who suffered a great loss in her life, had the team’s support to help her through the difficult time.
“It is a healing process. You never get over it, but you learn how to cope.
“When it comes to any other scars someone could have in their personal life – doing an activity brings improvement, it’s a good outlet, emotionally.
“You get the support you need from everyone. You won’t get pushed out, we pull you in and work on it.”
These netball players quickly learned that they enjoy the running just as much. They track the kilometres they conquer on an app to test their ability to improve on time and distance.
“I think what we are doing now is for ourselves,” the coach and chair of the club, Antoinette Husselmann, says.
“It’s still a team sport, but it’s different. You’re in competition with yourself.”
The club members also began to participate in virtual runs in aid of various charities, the last being in support of gender-based violence awareness.
“It’s for charity, so you’re paying attention to the physical side, while also supporting a worthy cause,” says Jacobs.
The women also joined Run Walk for Life (RWFL) in Kuruman in February and will be participating in its next virtual run from 1 April to 30 April for awareness surrounding prostate cancer.
The pandemic might have been a speed bump, but it was no mountain for them, as Husselmann puts it.
“If you are a coach, you can gauge your standards by what your players achieve – and if you see where we were and what we have accomplished, I’m very proud of them.”
This group will continue to run for a cause, even as the restrictions on sports have been relaxed.
It is a part of their lives now, but netball is not far from their minds.