My name is Bongiwe Msomi, and I am a proud product of Luthayi High School, in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal. When I think back to my school days, I just remember how much fun it was to sing and shout for the girls on court – and then hear my friends and fellow pupils shouting for me once I started showing promise as a netball player.
I picked up netball in my latter years of high school, and I still look back with great joy at how proud the school was of my achievements – even after I had left, and gone on to represent my country.
It’s always so pleasing to know that you left your mark somewhere, and hopefully put the school on the map for something great.
I think the wonderful thing about this Supersport Schools campaign is that it will shed light on those schools around the country that are less known.
Luthayi is in Hammarsdale, in between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. To us, growing up in the area, the competition around school sport was as passionate and lively as any other area in the country. We lived for sports days, and playing against friends who lived in the same area, but went to other schools.
It’s funny looking back now, because for the longest time, my teachers all thought I was a bit naughty! I really wasn’t, but I hung around what you might call the cool kids. So, by association, they assumed that I was naughty, too!
Having grown up in the area near Luthayi, and gone to Mnxolweni Primary School, it was a pretty straightforward decision for me to go to Luthayi in high school. My older sister was already there, and it was the closest school to us.
I remember being extremely nervous about my first day of high school. Believe it or not, I was really shy as a school girl. I was quite content going to class, and then waiting quietly at break-time to get back into the next lesson! I’m sure some of my friends now must have thought I was a bit weird back then.
When I look back at actual schoolwork – which is why we go to school – I really used to enjoy Maths. I won’t go as far as calling it my favourite subject, but I always looked forward to it because of the teacher. Mr Tshabalala, or ‘Oupa’ as we called him, always made each lesson fun. He just looked like someone who was really enjoying his work, and he made sure you paid attention. If you didn’t, you could get a hiding from him!
But, often, he would find a funny way to introduce some complicated new formulas to us in a way that we could remember.
It was a very sad day when I heard that he had passed on a few years ago, because he made my time at school so much more memorable.
I also enjoyed Biology, with Mr Khomo, because it dealt with a lot of things that we came across in everyday life.
I actually was a late bloomer in terms of netball. I only really got into it in grade 11 and 12, and the coach initially didn’t want me on the team because he thought I was one of the naughty ones at school!
It’s funny now, because he’s still my coach, and we work together on my Legacy Foundation. He is one of the most important people in my life, and we still laugh at how it all started.
How I actually got into the game was also pretty crazy. I had gone to watch some of my friends training, but they were one short. I was there, and borrowed talkies that were too big for me. But, despite the initial challenges, I was really keen to come back and try this interesting sport. Once I got into it, and dedicated myself to training, I started to show real progress. I made my Districts team, and then the KZN team. There wasn’t too much of a fuss at school, though, because quite a few people had done that before me. I would say that people started taking notice of me when I made the national team, and I was suddenly missing classes and tests because I was away on national duty.
When I look back, the most enjoyable aspect of playing netball for us was the support we used to get from the rest of the school.
They would be very close to the court, and they used to sing our songs so loud that it must have been intimidating for schools from outside that Hammarsdale area.
Our biggest rivals, though, were from the same neighbourhood.
In fact, they used to train with us after school, because there was only one facility available for a few schools. So, weird as it may sound, we used to train with each other all week, even though we went to different schools.
So when it came to playing against our friends from other schools, the games were even more intense!
ePhezulu High was one of our biggest rivals, because we knew so many pupils from there. Ukusa High School was also a school in the area that we would have great matches with.
Another rival, who actually used to beat us more often than not, was Thandaza School. They were very tough. But we looked forward to those battles on the court.
I just loved the songs that the school used to sing for us, because they were inspiring – and you just didn’t want to let them down.
To this day, I still go back to my school and see them, because they played such a massive role in what I became.
School sport opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed, so I will always be proud of being someone who went to Luthayi High School.